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Subject: A Memory of Early Tatiana Troyanos (LONG - Pt. 2 of 2)
From: Paul O'Neill <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Paul O'Neill <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 22 Aug 2002 01:24:14 +0100

text/plain (76 lines)

Part Two of Two:

I wish now, of course, that I had been better versed in operatic vocal
matters those many years ago, ('When I was young and.... ',  Basingstoke!
Don't get me started.)  But, I knew my Gilbert and Sullivan, and Troyanos
must have darkened the voice considerably to portray those commanding Dames,
The Fairy Queen in Iolanthe and Dame Caruthers in Yeoman of the Guard.
With hindsight, I've often wondered why she wasn't cast as Phoebe in Yeoman.
It would have been the more natural choice for a young singer with so much
verve and spark in her.  But, who could have seen the incredible flowering
of her career, which was just about to happen?  No one knew, yet.  It
probably seemed perfectly right, to bring such a rich sound to those two
gratifying roles.  Neither show was broadcast, so there seems little hope
that a tape recording will ever turn up.  Troyanos, herself, seemed to enjoy
the performances themselves, once the rather disorganized rehearsal period
had ended.  Now, mostly, I am glad to have had the opportunity to hear and
to observe her at close range during her early galley years as she seized
the roles tossed to her and explored her instrument and her potential.
These performances took place in July and August of 1964.  I suppose that
someone here must know how quickly her success in Hamburg followed upon the
summer nights that I witnessed.  She used some of her backstage time to
study a score or two she kept in her bag beneath the dressing table in the
ladies' tent.  I can't help but wonder if she was performing the immortal
lines 'Henceforth Strphon cast away rooks and pipes and ribbons so gay...'
and then retiring to her dressing table to pound 'The Devils of Loudon' into
her head!

Over the next couple of weeks I was able to come and go, almost at will, to
the remaining rehearsals and many of the performances, thanks to the
kindness of the young Ms. Troyanos, who introduced me to the house personnel
in charge of general growling, at the backstage entrance.  She talked with
me several times and I suppose she saw the starstruck puppy-love ricocheting 
around in my eyes.  With her help, I managed to see the critical final rehearsals 
for both shows, which were brutal, running until after two in the morning, as
they tried to work out the bugs in a new wireless microphone system for the
outdoor festival stage, set among the gardens on Boston Common.  Wireless
mikes were something quite new, and very often the equipment would pick up
very personal mobile communications from gas and utility trucks circling in the 
immediate park vicinity, rather than the Gilberts lyrics and dialogue, or 
Sullivan's melodies.  This threw the director, Mr. Green, into paroxysms of 
frothing rage each time. To save his voice, Mr. Green used his own wireless mike 
from his role onstage, to communicate with the rest of the cast, as director, when 
he was offstage and watching from the audience.  I had always believed that 
Martyn Green's real life persona  must have been as delightful as the winning 
comic patter characters he gained his world-fame in portraying.  But, on several
occasions, the pressures of getting through the technical nightmares of
bringing two under-rehearsed productions to a professional festival level,
caused Mr. Green to growl a few words far beyond 'the big, big 'D'!  It was
a real eye-opener for this kid, who had dreamed of running off to join
the D'Oyly Carte to peddle a rose-tinted brand of G&S to the English
speaking world.

I lost track of Tatiana for several years after that 1964 festival.  It
wasn't that she was hard to notice or find.  The rest of the musical world
must have discovered her easily enough, as she blazed across the stages and
recording sessions of Europe, soon afterward.  But, she had disappeared from
my radar screen, which only tracked G&S events of note for a couple of more
years.  I was stopped dead in my tracks when I found her among the cast of
Karl Boehm's Nozze di Figaro recording on DGG, while I was a conservatory
student at Oberlin.  I had to go without many student luxuries for weeks, to
buy the set of LPs to hear that voice once again, as Cherubino.  I almost
didn't recognize it at first!  After all, I had heard her flood a major city
park with 'The screw may twist and the rack may turn... ', as Dame
Caruthers in Yeoman of the Guard.  It took me a while to hear the
'watermark' of her personal sound in the youthful Cherubino.

I was fortunate to hear her several times, in live performance, later on, during 
the glory years of her major career.  I am so thankful that so many 
documents exist of her singing and her indelible characterizations.  It is very 
heart-warming to read so many deeply considered messages from others who 
experienced her artistry and her very human, personal touch to the roles she 
filled with her essence.  She is certainly missed!

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

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