A voi tutti, salute!
Enzo here, with his weekly "blast-from-the-past" inquiry. Given all the
hoopla about booing on the list, I decided this week's topic would be someone
well-acquainted with the practice: the American dramatic soprano Nancy Tatum.
A search in the Opera-L archives reveals numerous eyewitness accounts of a
disastrous Norma given in concert at Carnegie Hall, with Elena Suliotis in the
title role and Tatum as Adalgisa. The booing directed at these two divas
seems to have reached epic proportions as the evening progressed. But more on
Nancy Tatum was born on August 25, 1937 in Memphis, Tennessee. She studied
voice with Zelma Lee Thomas and Samuel Margolis, as well as her husband, Wiley
Tatum. She made her 1963 stage debut as Aida with Oper Saarbruecken. In that
same year, Tatum won the Gold Medallion at the International Opera Competition
held in Sofia, Bulgaria. Prior to singing, she worked as a secretary.
Tatum made her debut at La Scala on February 18, 1966 as Senta in Der
Fliegender Hollaender, with Franz Crass in the title role, Karl Ridderbusch as
Daland and Claude Heater as Erik. Wolfgang Sawallisch was the conductor.
This performance was her one and only appearance at La Scala.
Tatum made her San Francisco Opera debut on November 4, 1969 as Leonora in La
Forza del Destino. Her colleagues on that occasion included Carlo Bergonzi as
Don Alvaro, Ingvar Wixell as Don Carlo, Giorgio Tozzi as Padre Guardiano and
Renato Capecchi as Fra Melitone, with Giuseppe Patane conducting. In his book
on the San Francisco Opera, Arthur Bloomfield described Tatum as "a large and
cheerful soprano who offered gorgeous head tone and less than ideally jelled
Tatum made her Metropolitan Opera debut on October 4, 1974 in the title role
of Turandot, with Lucine Amara as Liu, Franco Corelli as Calaf and James
Morris as Timur. Alberto Erede conducted. As with La Scala, this was her one
and only appearance with the company.
Tatum debuted with the New York City Opera on September 21, 1975 as Turandot,
with Catherine Malfitano as Liu, Ermanno Mauro as Calaf and Richard T. Gill as
Timur. Julius Rudel conducted. Tatum made further appearances with the
company in the same role during the next few seasons.
The notorious Carnegie Hall Norma with Suliotis and Tatum occurred on November
9, 1967. Reports of the evening indicate the two ladies bombed in rather
spectacular fashion--and there are more than a few remembrances in the
archives (have a look: they make for fascinating reading.) Apparently, there
were many legendary divas in attendance, including Maria Callas. When the
booing reached its zenith, Regine Crespin reportedly stood up and began
shaking her fist at the sopranos' detractors. What a circus!
In addition to the venues mentioned above, Tatum also appeared with the
leading opera companies of Buenos Aires, Vienna, Brussels, Montreal,
Vancouver, Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, Nancy, Nice, Paris, Rouen, Strasbourg,
Toulouse, Athens, Berlin, Bonn, Dortmund, Duesseldorf, Essen, Hamburg,
Mannheim, Munich, Stuttgart, Amsterdam, Budapest, Parma, Bucharest, Geneva,
Zurich, Zagreb, Cincinnati, Dallas, Hartford, Houston, Memphis, Minneapolis,
Pittsburgh and San Antonio.
Her repertoire included Leonore in Fidelio, the title role in Norma, Alceste,
the title role in Iphigenie en Aulide, Santuzza, Donna Anna, La Gioconda,
Lauretta, Tosca, the title role in Genoveva, Ariadne, die Kaiserin, Odabella,
the Ballo Amelia, Lady Macbeth, Abigaille, Desdemona, Kundry, Sieglinde, the
Siegfried Bruennhilde and both Elisabeth and Venus in Tannhauser.
As far as I can deduce, Tatum made only one studio recording: an aria recital
for the Decca label. Reviewing her performance of "Un ob die Wolke" from Der
Freischuetz for the out-of-print Opera on Record, Alan Blyth describes Tatum
as "too off-hand," concluding that the recording is "little more than a
souvenir" of the soprano's career. Tatum did make several operatic films for
ORTF TV, including Der Fliegende Hollaender, Turandot, La Forza del Destino
Well, that's all I can find on La Tatum. What does the Opera-L community
think of this obscure soprano? Anyone know about her current whereabouts,
activities? All opinions, both positive and negative, are welcome.
Rembrances of in-house experiences are particularly encouraged.
My thanks to all in advance. Have a great weekend!