Today turned out to be a very low key day - it's now past 9pm and I have been listening to "Ebben, ne andro lontanoaria" - the aria from "La Wally" ... performed by Wilhelmenia Fernandez from the 1981 cult classic film, Diva. This film resonated with me when it first came out and I saw it at the Theatre of Living Arts on South Street. I remember being brought to tears by Wilhemenia's performance, as so many others were as well. It triggered another memory - that of December 1984 when Mayor Goode had announced that Ms. Fernandez (a local girl gone good) was to perform at the lighting of the Christmas Tree outside City Hall ...
My friend Larry was a big fan of the movie Diva as well and a big queen to boot (literally and figuratively) - not to mention a big pothead ... I remember going over to his basement apartment on Juniper Street - he had a fireplace which was ablaze and we had some warm cocktail of some sort - like a hot buttered rum or some such (being it was winter and cold) ... we 'prepared' for our trip over to City Hall and when we got there we pushed our way to the front ... there was this beautiful tree ... it was huge, especially from our unique perspective (keep in mind it was about 6pm and everyone else there was probably just getting off work and on their way home - and here are two queens all toasted and ready for the Diva to perform just for us!)
Goode said his words and introduced various city folk and finally introduced Wilhelmenia ... she came out dressed in the most amazing winter coat - lush red fabric complete with a matching hat - she said a few kind words about her hometown and then proceeded to sing a cappella to the audience... with the very first note, Larry and I turned and squeezed each other's arm as she began to perform one of the most haunting renditions of Ava Maria. And while she sang this beautiful song - the whole crowd stopped - everyone was transfixed on her voice. I never heard the city so quiet at rush hour before or since. And, if that wasn't enough - before she got a minute into the performance, snowflakes began to flurry upon us. Just enough to make that evening one of the most magical moments I've ever had.
If you've never seen Diva and/or have no idea what the aria from La Wally sounds like ... visit the site for the new Aria Condominiums, since they use her rendition of the aria (which is from the Diva soundtrack) as their musicbed for their website: