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The soprano-Martha Stewart connection

November 7, 2009 | 10:00 am

Susan The New Mexico-born, Texas-raised mezzo-soprano Susan Graham has many fans. Among them is American housewife extraordinaire, Martha Stewart.

The singer and chef met in 2008 when Graham was performing on opening night at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. The Met had invited Stewart, an opera lover, to the celebration as a guest, and it was Graham’s job to interview Stewart during intermission. “We made a cocktail together in the Grand Tier Bar,” says the opera diva of her first meeting with the domestic diva. “When you’re talking to Martha Stewart, you really have to make something.”

The two ladies instantly clicked and since then, Graham has appeared on Stewart’s cooking show two times, both in the last year. Last January, Graham chatted with Stewart about her gala performance at Carnegie Hall in honor of Marilyn Horne's 75th birthday, while concocting cod with escarole and lemon and escarole salad with apples and pecans. “The first time I was on the show, Martha asked me to talk about different voice types, such as the difference between a soprano and a mezzo soprano,” Graham says.

In May, Graham, who described herself as a “bad cook,” returned to Stewart’s kitchen once again, this time to help the host prepare a lemon-frosting-covered Mother’s Day cake. “During our interview, Martha asked me questions about my upcoming concert with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra while I was frosting an angel food cake badly,” recalls the opera singer of her second date with the chef.

A YouTube clip of the singer’s Mother’s Day appearance on the Martha Stewart Show certainly suggests that Graham’s culinary skills are not quite on a par with her vocal ones. In the clip, Graham looks like a younger version of Stewart. They both wear pastels, smile a lot and have almost identical shiny blond bobs. Where they greatly differ on screen is in their frosting acumen.

Graham is unlikely to develop a second career as a gourmet chef. “I wouldn’t go as far as to credit Martha with turning me into a cook,” Graham says cautiously.  But the odds of the gravely-toned Stewart becoming a professional singer are perhaps even slimmer.

On a different note, read my story about Graham's upcoming concert performance of Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas" and a lively chat with her and conductor Nicholas McGegan, on the Los Angeles Times' Entertainment site.

-- Chloe Veltman

Photo credit: Peter Da Silva/For The Times