Opera Singers Sarah Joy and David Miller Hit the High Notes with their FiDi Pad
Take a peek inside the performers' warm, modern 35th floor two-bedroom -- a reflection of their eclectic tastes and their affection for one another
For some couples, decorating a home can set the stage for an operatic melodrama. But for tenor David Miller of the Armani-wearing quartet Il Divo, and his wife, soprano Sarah Joy Miller, who most recently portrayed Anna Nicole Smith in the hit opera Anna Nicole, the experience meshed as easily as a double aria. Mostly.
They set the tone of their 2,100-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bathroom Financial District condo with an untitled Bruno Monvoisin painting that they bought together. The surreal piece, accented with shades of teal, purple, yellow and garnet, was the very first artwork they hung. “When we first moved in here, we had nothing,” Sarah Joy says. “David went on tour almost immediately after and he said, ‘Go get some decorative items, or at least a couch or some chairs.’ So I went and bought this.” She indicates a mustard-colored, high-backed easy chair. “When he came back from tour a couple of months later, he immediately detested this chair.”
“It’s just such a shocking color,” David says. “When I walked in, I said, ‘What is that?!’”
“But the color is in the picture,” Sarah Joy answers in defense. After that incident, the couple decided to shop together. “We went to ABC Carpet & Home and he found that chair.” This time, Sarah Joy points out a throne-like, purple-and-tan paisley-patterned seat with a cut-out headrest. “I thought it was an eyesore. But he loved it. Now that those two chairs are together, I think they both work really well. It’s sort of a picture of our marriage right there.”
That was the extent of their decorative disagreements. “I have read and heard that renovation and redecorating is the biggest test of a marriage,” David says. “We dealt with it pretty well.”
“You definitely learn a lot about each other,” Sarah Joy adds. “We’re both imaginative and we’re both artists. By the end of the meetings with our designer [Amy Aidinis Hirsch], we would be discussing crazy things like building a fort on the balcony.”
No fort, however, stands on either of the two balconies — all the better for the light to stream into the 35th floor pad and for the sunsets to color the walls with intense pinks and oranges until nightfall.
The couple found the apartment together a little more than six years ago. Set inside the former JPMorgan headquarters, and remodeled by Philippe Starck, the 42-story skyscraper sits across the street from the New York Stock Exchange. When first hunting, the Millers zeroed in on downtown but never imagined that they would end up living among the bulls and the bears. Now they have embraced the neighborhood’s charms, like quaint, cobbled Stone Street and go-to restaurants such as Ulysses Pub, Mad Dog and Beans Mexican Cantina and Adrienne’s Pizza Bar. Their favorite attribute, however, is the pedestrian mall in front of the Stock Exchange. “Once all the tourists and businessmen go home at the end of the day, it’s empty,” David says. “It becomes a dog park of sorts, everyone comes out with their animals.” The Millers are no exception: They come down with Cosmo, their Maltese/Havanese mix, to mingle with other dog owners. “In the summertime, sometimes people will even come down with full glasses of wine.”
Another neighborhood plus: taking advantage of Max Delivery, which specializes in one-hour grocery deliveries in the downtown area. David is enamored with the company’s organic produce, saying, “It completely blows FreshDirect out of the water.” As the one who cooks most often, he enjoys whipping up dinners on the fly. And true to good opera lovers, the duo enjoys Italian cuisine the most in their custom kitchen, renovated a year and half ago. A white marble island became the focal point, opening up the space that once held high cabinets, isolating the cook. Another important improvement: All of the surfaces were raised four inches higher than standard so that the statuesque couple could feel more comfortable while prepping.
The dining table comes right out of a Manhattan apartment real estate manual: It has wheels, to be easily rolled out of the way when they have people over and want to open up the space. Lanterns with red tassels hang aloft, playing up a vaguely Asian theme throughout, while a shiny Steinway bridges the dining and living areas, one of the first big-ticket items they purchased together. The neighbors receive a delightful earful when the duo uses it to practice singing. “You can hear us all the way down the hall,” David says. “Even in the elevator for a few floors.”
In the living room, the couple’s collaborative taste, best described as “whimsy modern,” do blend well. A sparkly, round chandelier, reminiscent of a disco ball, lends a chic and casual grooviness to the room. They bought it together in Lee’s Art Shop on 57th Street off Broadway, just a few blocks from the Broadway Theater, where the couple first fell in love during Baz Luhrmann’s production of La Boheme. David played Rodolfo and Sarah Joy was the understudy for Mimi, and according to the “Vows” column in The New York Times, “On the first day of rehearsal, as they sang the passionate duet ‘O soave fanciulla,’ their eyes locked.” That was in 2003; they moved into the apartment in 2007; and they married in 2009.
Another piece of art in the living room, on the opposite wall of the Monvoisin painting, brings them back to their early days of courtship: They picked up a quirky painting of three ostriches from a street vendor in Paris, where they became engaged. There are also various pieces that David brought back from his world tours, most notably a reclining Buddha from Malaysia, which he feels perfectly reflects the couple’s style. “He’s totally chilled out and having a good time,” David says. “He’s got all his bling and sequins going on, but he’s totally durable. He looks fancy but he’s made of painted wood.”
Crystals hanging from the drapery above the bed in the master bedroom are constant reminders of their magical wedding day. “The crystals were actually a part of the scenery at the altar of our wedding,” David says. “We had a florist build an arbor, and the crystals were hanging from the trees.” Their other favorite piece in the bedroom: a ceramic zebra that watches over the room from atop a bureau. “Our designer wanted us to get rid of the zebra,” Sarah Joy says, laughing. “We said, ‘No, we are keeping the zebra.’ He is like another pet to us.”
The second bedroom, used as a study, is currently filled with suitcases as David packs to leave for a five-month world tour with Il Divo, starting in Asia and traveling through the U.S., Europe, Russia and the Middle East. While he says that leaving home is always bittersweet, the couple will reunite on certain legs, meeting halfway — just as they did in home decoration.