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Subject: Treigle (was Re: Sills on Bing)
From: "Max D. Winter" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Max D. Winter
Date:Mon, 2 Oct 2017 23:32:53 -0400

text/plain (42 lines)

Bob Rideout wrote:

"For the record, I found Treigle to be a very engaged performer with an ordinary voice and a 
tendency to overact."

De gustibus and all that, but I can't let that pass without comment.  There was NOTHING 
"ordinary" about Norman Treigle's voice.  It was a cavernous, black, intensely expressive 
sound, distinctive and immediately recognizable (the sine qua non for any great voice).  I 
also remember it as having considerable impact live.  It was certainly not a conventionally 
beautiful sound like Ghiaurov's or Siepi's, to be sure.   But "ordinary?"  Hardly.  And of 
course, one can't separate the voice from what Treigle did with it. 

As for "overacting," yes, Treigle could be a bit of a ham.  I remember my older sister using 
that exact word after his turn as Dr. Miracle in "Contes d'Hoffman" in San Antonio 1969 - 
popping up in the orchestra pit behind the conductor!  But it was magnificent, top-quality 
Westphalia ham, and his intensity and conviction made it work.

Speaking of Ham and Treigle (a great breakfast combo), one of the better stories in Brian 
Morgan's book is about Treigle's Mephistopheles at Covent Garden in 1974.  During the 
Kermesse scene, when Mephisto is being driven back by the cross-shaped sword hilts, 
Treigle was slithering downstage like a reptile, ending up on top of the prompter's box.  
After the first performance, someone said to him, "Norman, why are you on top of the 
prompter's box?  Why don't you just crawl inside it?"  Sure enough, at the next 
performance, Treigle slithered down INTO the box head-first, to the surprise and 
consternation of the prompter, who hastily vacated his seat.    

There was NOTHING ordinary about Norman Treigle.


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