Photo courtesy: USA TODAY
NEW YORK -- A diva may be measured not just by how she acts under duress, but how she dresses.
Mariah Carey, who last Sunday injured her shoulder while shooting a music video, turned up Saturday night at Central Park's Great Lawn in a dazzling, form-fitting white gown by Natalia Danilova -- and matching sling. Carey had only recently left the hospital, but she was set to perform as a guest of the New York Philharmonic at the Major League Baseball All-Star Charity Concert, benefiting relief efforts for Hurricane Sandy.
Carey made her first entrance a few minutes late, leaving the Philharmonic and its music director/conductor Alan Gilbert to cool their heels after performing Randy Newman's suite from the 1984 baseball-themed film The Natural. But the singer was gracious, noting what an honor it was to perform with the orchestra.
"I'm not in the best of health here," she said, pointing to her "fanciful" sling: "It was us getting creative." As a finishing touch, she draped it in a feather stole -- by Gucci, no less. "Is this working? Do we like it?" she rhetorically asked the crowd, who roared its approval.
Carey sang two numbers before intermission, a husky, impassioned My All and Looking In. She noted that the latter was a more obscure entry from her 1995 album Daydream: "This requires a bit more stability than I have right now," she said, then started in her airier voice, later encouraging "people who know it" to "sing along."
Ending the mini-set in equally dramatic fashion, she asked her fans to "wait for me. I love you madly. I love you madly."
When she returned, Carey was all in black, sling included. "I'm sorry if I was a little emotional before," she said. "I'm in a tiny bit of pain."
A spokesperson for Carey said that the singer was "actually in a lot of pain," with "bruised ribs, dislocated shoulder, temporary nerve damage in her arm." But she rallied again, delivering her current single #Beautiful in a robust alto embellished with her trademark coloratura high notes near the end.
She again thanked the Philharmonic, and another supporting musician: her longtime colleague and former fellow American Idol judge Randy Jackson, who was playing guitar.
The concert, which fans attended for free -- sponsors provided the funds to Sandy Relief -- also featured a guest appearance by former New York Yankees manager Joe Torre, who narrated Casey At the Bat accompanied by the Philharmonic. Other musical selections nodded to baseball and/or New York, among them a sumptuous piece from Leonard Bernstein's On The Town and a suite from the recent Jackie Robinson tribute movie 42.
Carey, a native New Yorker herself, wrapped the concert with a song she said felt appropriate, Hero. "God bless you," she told the crowd and, not to be upstaged, exited before a fireworks display brought the evening to a close.