Tatiana Troyanos is widely admired as one of the greatest mezzo sopranos in all of history. Her musical commitment and ever-insightful interpretations have made her a figure admired by all.
Many great singers of today, including Joyce DiDonato and Susan Graham, have seen her as a major influence on their artistry, with the former going so far as to say that she struggled with her interpretation of a role because she felt should could never sing like Troyanos.
Look through Troyanos’ repertory and you will find a wide range of composers and works. Born on Sept. 12, 1938, she died early, at 54, but left the world with so much to marvel at, including a tremendous array of trouser roles. Here are the major ones she took on and dominated throughout her tragically short career.
Cherubino – Le Nozze di Figaro
Arguably the most famous of all trouser roles, Troyanos made Cherubino an early specialty, recording it in 1968 under Karl Böhm when she was but 30.
Hansel – Hansel und Gretel
The mezzo was a famed interpreter of the young boy, singing the role 11 times at the Met, among other theaters. Of her acting, Daily News critic Bill Zakariasen wrote, “… her purposefully awkward movements really got the boy-with-growing-pains character across winningly.
Romeo – Capuletti e Montecchi
She performed this role in 1975 at the Opera Company of Boston and later took it on in Chicago. She has a recording of the role from 1975.
Troyanos actually performed the role of Cleopatra, but her interpretation of the title character was made all the more pronounced by the fact that she led the first-ever performance of the work at the Metropolitan Opera. She also sang it in San Francisco and Geneva prior to her Met appearance.
Sesto – La Clemenza di Tito
One of her iconic portrayals, Troyanos’ interpretation had a massive impact on Graham, who stated that in her own interpretation of the Mozart character, “…there were certain phrases that I found myself singing just like she did, because it was in my ear that way. I was never so inspired by a colleague on the stage as I was by Tatiana because she just gave everything.”
Octavian – Der Rosenkavalier
Another of Troyanos’ famous interpretations, she sang Octavian 30 times at the Met, including for her first performance with the company back in 1976.
A review of that first performance noted, “The star of the show was Miss Troyanos… Vocally, the role seemed perfect for her. She has a large, warming lyric mezzo-soprano with perfect control and an even, balanced sound throughout. She knew exactly how much sound to put out to fit into Levine’s conception, and her singing of the Trio and the final duet was perfection itself.”
Her first Octavian actually came in London 10 years earlier and she recorded it a year later under Böhm.
Composer – Ariadne Auf Naxos
This was the breakthrough role for Troyanos, as she became a star when taking on the role alongside Régine Crespin at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in 1966. A review of her performance noted that “she made a heart-breaking—and heart-broken—adolescent, whose voice, in Strauss’s great paean to the power of music, soared into the warm, Provencal night and seemed to hang there like the stars of a rocket.” She would take on the role 19 times at the Met. She recorded the opera three times (!) between 1968 and 1977, one of those from a live performance.
Prince Orlofsky – Die Fledermaus
Finally, the mezzo was well-known for interpreting Prince Orlofsky in Strauss’ famed operetta. She took on the role 25 times at the Met, among her most frequent appearances with the company.
Additionally, Troyanos performed the role of Orfeo in Gluck’s “Orphée et Eurydice.”
Here she is in the final trio from “Der Rosenkavalier.”