Posted by: Josey | April 14, 2010

The New York City Opera: Madama Butterfly and Memories of Mom Didi

“The granddaughter of an opera singer…” my bio reads. Mom Didi would beam when telling me she had blessed me with a gift, the ability to sing. And because of that gift, we always shared a unique connection, one that perhaps only two singers could understand. I remember Mom Didi rehearsing the lines of “Look Over There,” a sentimental tune from La Cage aux Folles, which she sang at my cousin’s Bar Mitzvah. I sang “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” to her and my Poppy Davey at their anniversary party once; she applauded the loudest. And “Memory” from Cats we sang together. I still can’t hear any of that music without missing her, and “In My Life” by the Beatles makes me think of her, too, though I don’t know if that reaction is experience-based, or simply lyric-driven. She was an incredible cook and hostess, and she’s top of mind while I whip up her kugel, her chili, any recipe really, and when I light the candles before serving meals to friends, even casually. But music will always be our strongest bond.

Three weeks ago, I cashed in on an old Valentine’s Day gift from Jeff: IOU tickets to my first opera—by no coincidence, Madama Butterfly. Fully aware that I’d be overdressed, I donned my favorite floor-length, Maraschino cherry-colored gown and an up-do. We headed to Lincoln Center in New York City and took our seats. And, from the first row of the second ring, I admired the dramatic costumes, the glowing set. I listened to the voices soar, imagining a young Mom Didi on that stage doing what she did, what I do, best.

Thelma Miller, affectionately known as Mom Didi, standing



  1. Dear Josey,
    How beautiful and how true. I am so very proud of you and the beautiful words you wrote. In case anyone is wondering, your words could not possibly be more accurate.
    I hope that one day we can come to New York and listen to your beautiful music, it would mean so much to me.
    I love you,
    Auntie Judy

  2. Thank you, Auntie Judy! I love you, too!

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