I bought myself a glass of wine while I waited. As I ambled back to my seat, a rather large, middle-aged woman (she certainly didn't look 64!) asked if I am a singer. I asked how she knew, and she responded that I look like a singer, the way I carried myself.
We introduced ourselves. Then I asked if she is a singer. She gave me one of those long stares suggesting disbelief. Then, after a pause, she confirmed that she, too, is a singer. "Where do you sing?" I hasten to add that there wasn't the least bit of haughtiness as she explained that she has sung in many places, including Covent Garden. "Oh, are you in the chorus?"
She smiled. "You really don't know who I am, do you? Look me up on YouTube. You'll find lots of clips. Just put in my name. Elizabeth Connell, C-o-n-n-e-l-l. Or better yet, come to my next opera —" and she gave me details of a production the following month at Royal Opera.
I've gotten smiles telling that story to opera colleagues, all of whom knew Elizabeth Connell. I felt the fool for not knowing such a distinguished and important singer. I just had no idea that a year after I met her she'd succumb to cancer.