By CONNIE CONNOLLY
Nov 23, 2017
EASTON — Little did Rabbi Peter Hyman know when he helped a Texas teenager transfer to a prestigious music college that one day he would see him onstage at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.
“To see someone you know walk out on stage and just kill it brought tears my eyes,” the rabbi of Temple B’nai Israel in Easton said.
When David Adam Moore debuted last month at the Met, he sent tickets to Hyman to thank him for his pivotal role years ago in helping Moore achieve his dreams.
At Temple Emanuel in Beaumont, Texas, where Hyman served as rabbi, the organist hired Moore, then 18 years old, as a cantorial soloist even though Moore was not Jewish.
The young man’s talent so impressed Hyman that he helped arrange for Moore to get a scholarship to Oberlin College’s Conservatory of Music in Ohio, transferring there after two years studying voice at Lamar University in Beaumont.
“I had just done a performance at Lamar University, and (Hyman) was there, and he told me the congregation had come through with the scholarship,” Moore said. “When he told me that, I was really blown away. I had put on a whole fundraising recital, and I think I raised $500. I was just looking under every rock I could trying to scrape together the money to make this happen.”
Hyman said he simply facilitated the means for Moore to further his education.
“An extremely wealthy and generous fellow I knew, who wasn’t a member of the (Temple Emanuel) congregation, arranged for David to get a small scholarship and help him get to Oberlin,” Hyman said.
“I said, ‘Rabbi Hyman, how can I ever thank you for this? How can I ever show my gratitude?’” Moore said. “And he said off the cuff, kind of laughing, “I just want two tickets when you make your Met debut.’ I said, ‘You got it.’
“And we both laughed, because the idea that I could get into a major conservatory at all seemed like something out of my wildest dreams. So the idea of actually having an opera career and having a Met debut someday was completely off the scale.”
“To any singer worldwide, the Met is generally regarded as the top opera house in the world,” Moore said.
“David called me in August and said, ‘Rabbi Hyman, you may not remember me. My name is David Moore, and I used to sing for you in Beaumont. You arranged for me to attend Oberlin College,’” Hyman said. He hadn’t seen Moore “since he left for Oberlin.”
“He told me he was debuting at the Met and said tickets would be waiting for me,” Hyman said. “I cried because, you know, it may be one of the most remarkable moments in my life.”
Moore said, “The comment he made about the Met was so off the cuff at the time that once I reminded him, he remembered. So yeah, it was pretty amazing, because I just called him out of the blue.”
Hyman, along with his friend Marcia Shapiro of Easton and his sister Debbie Geller of New York City, attended the performance of the “The Exterminating Angel” on Tuesday, Nov. 14.
Moore, as Col. Alvaro Gomez, was one of the principals in the opera by Thomas Adès. According to www.metopera.org, the opera “is a surreal fantasy about a dinner party from which the guests can’t escape.”
The opera, Hyman said, was “weird, very modern, dissonant and cacophonous,” and Moore had “chops that could kill a horse.”
Moore is grateful for all the help he got from many quarters.
Calling his quest for Oberlin a “group project,” Moore said, “My father had a huge hand in it. The cost of Oberlin was well beyond the means of my family.” Even with scholarships, there was a “good-sized gap” that involved student loans and “real sacrifices from the family.”
“My father took two extra jobs. He was playing with a top-10 country western band at the time — he was a bass player and backup singer with Tracy Byrd, who was touring the country at the time. So Dad would play for a stadium full of people, and then he would run out to the front lobby and sell T-shirts to make extra money for my tuition at Oberlin, and he ended up becoming the relief bus driver.”
“As my career developed, with every good thing that’s happened, I’ve always thought back to my dad, and to Rabbi Hyman, and to my voice teacher from Oberlin and a handful of other people who have all contributed to this,” Moore said.
“There’s a broader message than just what happened to me,” Hyman said. “I’m rarely speechless, but this just blew me away.”
“The rabbinical literature says that a mitzvah (good deed) leads to another mitzvah,” Hyman said. “It’s not about the payback, but the opportunity to do what’s right, what’s good and impactful at the moment.”