Monday, November 24, 2008
O Night Divine
Fifteen years ago this coming January, I walked into the Colón Language School in Hamburg, Germany. There I was placed in a beginners' German language class. In came a group of gabby, cute people who clearly new each other. A few were American, one was Japanese, one from somewhere in Great Britain -- Wales, it turned out.
The group turned out to be performers from "Phantom of the Opera" which was the most popular musical in Germany at the time. The actors and singers came from all over the world. The musical was performed in German to the same exacting Andrew Lloyd Weber Standards as the West End and Broadway productions.
The group was fun. Did they study their German? Sometimes! But we ended up making a habit of lunch after class at one of the local restaurants on the pedestrian street where the school was located.
Ellen Bullinger, one of the Americans and I became friends and shared many funny and dear and difficult moments together over the next couple of years during her contract in Hamburg. In total, I think I saw Phantom 6 times -- so many times that I was almost able to sing along -- in German.
Ellen went back to the states after her contract was up, and I moved on to Italy. We lost touch, but destiny brought us together in a very unbelievable way. In 2002, Micha and I were in New York City for a Christmas visit and we were walking on 34th Street. The streets were black with people, wall to wall, as is always the case right before Christmas in Manhattan. Suddenly Micha says, "Hey, Ellen!" And there was Ellen, we almost walked into each other. None of us could really talk -- we were all in complete shock.
Ellen sent me her Christmas CD's and tried to keep in touch with me. I did a lousy job returning the favor-- with all of the upheaval in our lives with moving to Italy I was bad, very bad, at maintaining contacts. But destiny has intervened again, this time in the form of Facebook. So now we are back to our " hello, dahling" relationship, which makes me very happy.
Ellen is performing her Christmas Concert, O Night Divine this year in Manhattan at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle, 60th and Columbus, Manhattan on December 16th at 8 PM. For those of you who are in or near NYC that week, stop in for something very special and beautiful. Ellen has the voice of an angel and is especially fond of Christmas. And be sure to give Ellen a hug for me.
You will enjoy a very special evening if you go! Here's Ellen's MySpace where you can hear some of her music...