BY Charlie Richards
September 01 2009 1:45 PM ET
How does that feel for you?
It's a lark because I can get away with saying anything about anyone!
When did you start doing your work for the Met?
I got tried out in the 2006-2007 season and I was too astonished and dumb to be scared. I almost said no -- I'm so glad I didn't! I was just so intimidated. I did four shows that season, and at the end of the season they called me in and I thought they were calling me in to say, "Well, we liked what you did, so could you do two or four next season?" but what they said was, "We like what you did, so would you like to be the weekly commentator?" I'm going into the third year now.
In general, we all know the stereotype of the "opera queen." Why do you think opera appeals so much to gay men?
That is the eternal question, isn't it? I really don't know, I mean, being one to whom opera has always appealed, and I now sort of feel like the Jesus Christ of opera, going around and spreading the gospel to 10 million people a week on the radio, I can't tell you; I think, of course, for the same reason that Judy Garland does ... this kind of ultraromantic, flamboyant art form that's kind of real but at the same time kind of mythical and superreal, I think because it involves glamour, and I think because it involves heartbreak and at the same time there is an element that I think is inexplicable -- I think it is as inexplicable as the reason people are gay.
How did you meet your husband, Hans?
I had a very long relationship with someone who's a very dear friend now, for 25 years, and I broke it off because someone else I had been friendly with and I got together. This was really the love of my life, but he decided he needed to live in Europe. He left and it was very difficult for me, and I went into a deep depression and was not considering meeting anyone new. But I kept being bothered by this student of mine to meet this guy who was a singer. He was a big guy and he wasn't really my physical type, and I kept saying, "I really don't want to do this." She kept nagging me about it, and finally I agreed to write to Hans. So I wrote to him, and we started to write to each other, and we started to write and write -- I know that e-mail is very seductive, so I was very wary of it -- but this soprano was a very aggressive Korean Dolly Levi; she invited Hans to New York for Thanksgiving in 2006 and left for Europe with her husband and left him in her apartment and left me to sort of be his New York chaperone -- total setup! And it worked! He was 38 at the time and I was 60, so he knew about the age thing, and I knew that he was fat ... but it just didn't matter and it all happened. I'm very grateful for it. I got out of my depression and he got back to singing.
Tell us a little about the wedding in Amsterdam.
It was just amazing. It was a huge event -- there were 550,000 people. The city of Amsterdam decided to have the mayor marry five gay couples because of Canal Pride, which is their Gay Pride, combined with the 400th anniversary of their settling of New Amsterdam, which is now New York, which was this year. Mayor Cohen was to marry five couples, one of whom would be American and one of whom would be Dutch. They ended up having 15 applications and they chose five of us. He [Siff's husband, Hans] had a wonderful screening interview in which he charmed everybody and sang. He is ultracharming. The part that the city did was amazing: there was a wedding boat with the mayor, the five couples, the event team, the vice mayor, a city councillor, and champagne and food. The wedding boat said "I do, I do" with two little Dutch boys kissing and two little Dutch girls kissing. They wrote for the mayor five separate speeches so that each ceremony had sort of a different feel to it, so you didn't really feel like you were at a mass event, even though you're on this boat and you look out and the canals and bridges are teeming with people. When we did the vow thing and he [Cohen] asked me, "What is your answer?" I meant to say, "I do," but I said, "Oh, yes!" and there was this huge roar.