Ruthie didn't miss very many of Julio Bocca's performances during his decades with ABT. Haglund became fast friends with her when we kept showing up in the same side box at the Met Opera House. Under five feet tall and in her 80s with the energy and sass of a 20-year-old, she would go to the stage door every night to greet Julio and tell him how happy his performance had made her. Occasionally she encountered him near Fairway's on the Upper West Side where they both lived and she would be floating on Cloud 9 weeks later.
Years after Julio retired, Ruthie's eyes still lit up when his name was mentioned. "There will never be another Julio," she would say with a tinge of sadness. "He was one of kind."
When we met at Carnegie Hall for a Hvorostovsky or Jonas Kaufmann recital, she was eager to re-live Julio's performances and lament his retirement. She had all the videos and even limited edition photos by Nancy Ellison who probably photographed his career the most and the best.
Ruthie passed away a few years ago. But tomorrow night at the Tribute to Julio Bocca at Lincoln Center on the occasion of his 50th birthday, she will be looking down from the Sixth Ring to applaud this beloved artist. She wouldn't miss it for the world.