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Subject: A Memory of Early Tatiana Troyanos (LONG - Pt. 1 of 2)
From: Paul O'Neill <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Paul O'Neill <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 22 Aug 2002 01:22:55 +0100

text/plain (104 lines)

Greetings, friends!  What follows is quite long, but I think the story
should be told at this time.  I am usually a lurking member here, so please
indulge my rather long-winded remembrances as a rarity.  I think that you
may appreciate the glimpses it will afford, if you have the patience, of a
very young Tatiana Troyanos, during her formative years, in some wacky
repertoire, to say the least!

Like many other opera lovers I have met, I came to opera slowly, through a
series of Broadway shows, original cast albums, and the full canon of
Gilbert and Sullivan operettas.  When I was in the eighth grade, I played
Pooh-Bah in my grammar school production of The Mikado, and that sealed my
fate.  For the next several years, I tracked down every other G and S score
I could lay my hands on, and drove my family wild with endless repetitions
of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company recordings, taped off of the Boston FM
stations onto reel to reel tapes.  Like another lister, my family eventually
bought me a complete opera recording and gave it to me, praying a fervent
novena that it would find fertile ground in the Savoyard wasteland between
my ears. (It did.  It was the Sutherland-Bergonzi-Merrill Traviata, for the
curious.) But that is another story.

In 1964, I had almost reached the pinnacle of my G&S feeding frenzy, when
the Boston Globe announced that the legendary Martyn Green was to give
two weeks of live, fully staged performances, as part of that summer's
Boston Arts Festival.  Mr. Green was to direct both productions, as well as
performing The Lord Chancellor and Jack Point, two of his signature roles,
in Iolanthe and The Yeoman of the Guard.  I could barely restrain myself.

The article went on to say that Mr.Green would be surrounded by a cast of
young artists from the New York City opera, but that meant absolutely
nothing to me, that summer.  My date with my operatic destiny was still a
couple of years away.

Two years earlier, Mr. Green had brought a professional production of HMS
Pinafore to the Arts Festival, and I had seen it on my family's television,
in our own living room, when WGBH televised it live!  Ah, the good ol' days.
In the cast of that 1962 Boston Arts Festival was Jeannette Scovotti, as
Josephine, noted Mahlerian, Eunice Alberts, as 'Die Kleine' Buttercup, and
Mac Morgan as Captain Corcoaran.  I wonder if a videotape is gathering
dust in the stations archives?

(To digress for a moment, Beverly Sills apparently performed quite a few
G&S roes during her long 'appreticeship', before hitting the big time.  In
one of her two books, there is a list of the G&S roles she performed.
Is there anyone on the List who remembers her in Gilbert & Sullivan?
I wonder what her Rose Maybud or Patience may have been like?(!)

I knew that Martyn Green had been making fewer and fewer appearances for
several years. I half expected that he might only be a shadow of his
legendary self, due to advancing age and the much publicized loss of a leg
in a freight elevator accident a few seasons before.  But, I had devoured
his various books and had learned several of the operettas through his
recordings, and I was one determined lad.  I tracked him down during the
week before the opening of the season, when they were in rehearsal in
Boston's Horticultural Hall, a great old brick exhibition space, most often
associated with the annual Boston Flower Show, just adjacent to
Symphony Hall, (and by the same architect.)  Armed with an arduously
self-typed letter of introduction, I presented myself at the orchestral
run-through with the full company.  I'm not sure anymore what I hoped to
accomplish with my letter.  I think it had something to do with wanting to
audition for him, to unleash my 16 year-old bass-baritone upon him and
to spellbind him with my nimble staccato feats in the weightier patter
songs. But! To 'my amazement, my surprise', I was invited into the very
reverberant hall to await my moment to speak with Mr. Green at the

Entering the hall during the 'March of the Peers' chorus, with a full brass
band hidden among the orchestra, I felt like I was entering Valhalla, even
though I was not yet familiar with that precise concept.  Martyn Green
thrilled me and it was with something way beyond fascination that I
watched him step back from the proceedings to assume his directorial duties
in the scenes in which he was not actually performing.  But, the quality of
the other principal roles was what really grabbed my attention, particularly
in that sort of acoustic, like a gigantic tiled shower!  I cannot recall all
of the singers without my old programs, which are packed away just now,
but the leading roles for both Iolanthe and Yeoman, were cast in the
Savoyard tradition.  That is, the prima donna, Carol Bayard, and the
lead, William Ledbetter, and most of the other representatives of G&S's
vocal 'fachs', were cast in both operas, in the parts which fit their vocal
profiles, in the grand tradition of the creators of their roles at the Savoy
in London.

I looked around for the 'portly old  battleaxe contralto-type' of singer,
traditionally cast in the 'Katisha' roles, but had no luck finding her in
such a young company.  But I was not prepared for the Fairy Queen who
arrived during the First Act finale!  A lovely young woman, with flowing
dark hair and the most flashing Mediterranean eyes I had ever seen.  But
when she launched into her 1st lines in the exciting finale, ('Oh cruel one
to separate two lovers from each other!') I'm sure my jaw dropped onto my
chest.  I had been raised on the hooty old English contralto sound from the
1950's Decca sets of the D'Oyly Carte.  Here was this magnificent plummy
voice, with a spitfire attitude and led by her blazing eyes, taking centre
stage!  It ruined me for the D'Oyly Carte sound, forever.  During the break
I wandered over to this singer as the company milled about, taking light
refreshments before beginning the 2nd act.  She seemed almost as young as
me!  I was knocked out.  She told me her name was Tatiana Troyanos, and the
music in her saying of her name, made it impossible to ever forget, for this
impressionable16 year old.

End of Part One

Paul O'Neill
Co. Galway, Ireland
(formerly of Massachusetts)

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