Home Music Aretha Franklin Discovers Opera American Idol at Lunch

Aretha Franklin is in New York on her annual holiday. And on Tuesday she got serenaded at lunch.

The Queen of Soul stopped in to Brasserie Ruhlmann in Rockefeller Center with friends for lunch and got a surprise.

“I had a wonderful waiter,” she told me. “He said, You know, I sing the same songs you do.” He didn’t mean “Respect” but Puccini’s “Nessum Dorma.”

“I told him to show me, but sing low. Instead he really opened up. And he’s very talented. You should get over there immediately.”

The waiter in question was Don Catrone. Here he is singing “Nessum Dorma” on YouTube:

The folks at Brasserie Ruhlmann are thrilled. “Everyone clapped,” the manager told me. “And she was very nice. That’s what made it special.”

And Aretha? Still tweaking her new album, looking forward to a release soon.

Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. He wrote the Intelligencer column for NY Magazine in the mid 90s, reporting on the OJ Simpson trial, as well as for the real Parade magazine (when it was owned by Conde Nast), and has written for the New York Observer, Details, Vogue, Spin, the New York Times, NY Post, Washington Post, and NY Daily News among many publications. He is the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
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