Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Married to the Maestro – the Prelude

Having grown up surrounded by opera singers and musicians, I am most comfortable in that world. About 10 years ago I was invited to a dinner party hosted by opera singer friends. “Come and meet this wonderful young Conductor, Jacques Lacombe, from Montreal,” they said. “He’s really creating the most amazing international buzz.”

Equally at home with the ballet, the opera and the symphony, Jacques Lacombe was indeed in demand all over the world. We hit it off immediately, sharing our love of opera, ballet and, bien sûr, all things French.

He was in Philadelphia to conduct a series of operas for the Philadelphia Opera Company and, being single and very attractive, was causing quite a fluttering of hearts among the Ladies – those who sing and play, and those who lunch and support those who sing and play.

When he left, Jacques and I kept in touch by e-mail.

Not long after that, my husband and I attended a superb performance of a perennial French favorite, “Werther,” at the Metropolitan Opera in New York with Jacques in the orchestra pit and the fabulous French tenor, Roberto Alagna, in the title role. Trust me, Ladies, Roberto is even more handsome in person and quel charme !!

This was not the first time I had heard Jacques conduct, but there was something special about this performance -- an enveloping sensuality about his conducting that totally swept me away. Jacques is not a man to reveal himself easily, but it was there in the music. You could feel it. I soon found out that, like the title character, Werther, Jacques had fallen madly in love.

And the object of his affection was a young American beauty with an impish grin and a drop-dead body. How could a man resist?

In March of 2003, while Jacques was again in Philadelphia to conduct a run of operas (Verdi’s “Macbeth”), he found himself sipping a solitary drink at the Brasserie Perrier one evening and pretending to be engrossed in a book.

Suddenly, he noticed a stunning young woman nearby engaged in exactly the same activity – solitary drink, open book, you get the picture.

Their eyes met and she began to laugh. “You’ve got to be kidding,” she said, glancing at their books. “Excuse me?” he replied, pretending not to understand what she meant……………..although, clearly, he did understand.

They had dinner together and a year later, Janet and Jacques were married. The sound of feminine hearts breaking could be heard all over the world.

A few months later at a dinner party hosted by the same couple who had introduced me to the Maestro, I met the Maestro’s wife and history repeated itself. Janet and I hit it off immediately, sharing our love of shoes, shopping, shoe shopping and, did I mention shoes???, and anything that comes out of an orange box tied with brown ribbon.

The Lacombes are a much sought after international couple. To my delight, Jacques was named Music Director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra two years ago, which means we get to see them a little more often than once or twice a year. The couple now divides their time between Montreal (where Jacques has been Music Director of the Orchestre Symphonique de Trois-Rivières since 2006), New Jersey and the rest of the world.

Over dinner a few months ago, Janet and I were chatting about just what it takes to be the perfect traveling companion to a globe-trotting Maestro.

“You know,” I said, “I think my readers would love to read about your experiences. How would you like to do an interview with me for my Blog?”

“I’d love it,” she replied. And so, over the next few months, we e-mailed back and forth. “Married to the Maestro – Part 1” will be up and running next week, in which Janet talks about what to pack and where to find the world’s best tomatoes.

Check out "Married to the Maestro -- Part 1"

Check out "Married to the Maestro -- Part 2"


  1. How exciting! This makes for a great story and I am glad you are sharing it with us today. I can't wait to hear what the beautiful Maestro's wife has to say. I am already guessing our lives are very different... but if she, too, loves anything that comes in that orange packaging with a brown ribbon, then I know I would like her ;-) Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  2. You might be surprised, Véronique, that your lives are not too far apart. Wait and see. After all, you share a love of orange boxes tied up with brown ribbon.

    I now have a Pavlovian response to the color orange. (sigh)

  3. Sounds very interesting, M-T! I loved your story about Ted Bessell wanting to buy you a drink! I loved that show as a little girl...I really wanted to look exactly like Marlo (except for the times that I was wishing I looked exactly like Barbara Eden of "I Dream of Jeannie"!) Those shows bring back great memories.

    Thanks for sharing your story in my comments. You're a fascinating lady!

    Cindy at Notes in the Key of Life

  4. I don't know about my being fascinating (you'd have to ask my husband about that), but I do know that I have had the great good fortune to know some very interesting people in my life.

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