The memories are so vivid; snatches of conversations like pieces of movies - instructive, adventurous and always humorous.
"Opera? Me? Never happen," I said. "I just can't do it. The last one I saw was La Bohème with Pavarotti and it just didn't work for me. Not that I'm one to talk but, but how was I supposed to believe that Pavarotti was starving?"
Anthony calmly reassured me. "No, this will not be like that. You are going to like this opera. You are coming to see Madama Butterfly, which Carolyn and I are directing. We are making it for the 21st century." Carolyn, of course, is Anthony's wife, who choreographed their version of one of Puccini's most famous operas. How could I argue with that?
As it turned out, here was an opera that spoke to me in a way that Anthony's movies did. It was about real people who expressed their emotions in a powerful and moving way. They were not there just to sing. I was transfixed. That opera was a combination of all his passions rolled into one amazing experience, and it defined our relationship - the brilliant intellectual willing to take time to educate the kid from Queens.
I'm not sure when I can watch Truly, Madly, Deeply again, the movie that introduced me to him. My acquisitions executives in England passed on the film; two weeks later an assistant at Miramax named Anne Greenhaul called me herself and said: "You must see this movie." So I screened it. I laughed and I wept. And celebrated. By the morning I tracked down the director, Anthony Minghella, and called him.