Do you have any Valentine’s Day traditions?
Ailyn: Oof! Not yet, but probably writing a love letter would be a really nice idea.
Matt: Staying out of the doghouse.
Did music play a role in your love story?
Ailyn: Matt and I met at IU while studying music and vocal performance. I think it would be fair to say that we bonded over the love of German and Lieder Class.
Matt: Long before our love story began, we met while in school at Indiana University. We were in a production of Cosi Fan Tutte together, she as Despina and I as Don Alfonso. But we probably got to know each other best during the summer we both attended the German for Singers program in the German School at Middlebury College. Back at Indiana, knowing that she was a generally smart and talented singer, like many at that big school, I attended her senior recital. That is when I truly saw and heard her glorious voice and natural talent and realized that she was definitely the real deal. After that, it never surprised me to hear how quickly her career was taking off. After I graduated and left IU, it wasn’t until about 15 years later that we ran into each other at P.J. Clarke’s across from the Met after she had sung a performance of Micaëla in Carmen, her debut there, and I had just sung Filippo in a concert performance of Don Carlo nearby. Conversation was nonstop and effortless as time passed unnoticed. We always say it was fate, because I was standing right by the corner of the bar where she couldn’t possibly have missed me when entering the restaurant.
What is a piece of classical music that is especially romantic to both of you, and why?
Ailyn: On a visit to Budapest, Matt and I were invited by the Director of the Orchestra to take a private tour of the Opera House before it closes for renovation. While we walked on the stage, Matt was inspired and burst into the suave and seductive first lines of Mozart’s “La ci darem la mano” from Don Giovanni … you know! … The duet when Don Giovanni is seducing Zerlina! Matt was irresistible and I joined to sing Zerlina! The tourists who happened to be there applauded us and we kissed! That, for me, will always be the romantic hit in my book
Matt: I don’t know if this counts, but my heart lights up when I hear her sing “L’heure exquise” by Renaldo Hahn. Her “Ô bien aimée” stops time. Then, of course, there’s Johnny Hartman and John Coltrane doing “My One and Only Love.” For me, it’s the definitive recording of the song. When we were first reconnecting and on the phone a lot as she was working in Europe, I sang that song to her one evening. She liked that. And I liked that. The first of many building blocks.