Troyanos, Tatiana (1938–1993)

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Troyanos, Tatiana (1938–1993)

American mezzo-soprano. Born on September 12, 1938, in New York; died of cancer on August 21, 1993, in New York City; daughter of Nickolas Troyanos and Hildagod (Langera) Troyanos; studied with Hans Heinz and at the Juilliard School of Music.

Debuted at New York City Opera (1963); was a member of the Hamburg State Opera (1965–75); debuted at Covent Garden (1969), Paris Opéra (1971), and Metropolitan Opera debut (1976).

Born in New York in 1938 and raised in Forest Hills, opera singer Tatiana Troyanos always identified with her father's Greek heritage and throughout her life described herself as Greek-American. Her early musical training was on the piano, although she also sang in school and in church choirs. As a teenager, she became enthralled with the recording of Maria Callas (to whom she would later be compared) and began to attend opera performances at the Metropolitan as a standee. After deciding to study singing, Troyanos worked as a secretary at Random House while attending Juilliard, but left the prestigious music school when she was unable to study with the teacher of her choice, Hans Heinz. She subsequently studied privately with Heinz for many years.

Troyanos did not have an easy time getting her career off the ground. She turned down small roles at the Met but fought hard for parts she wanted. When she was deemed too glamorous for a role as a nun in The Sound of Music, she returned in a disheveled state to audition a second time and landed the part. She got her first break in 1963, when she signed with the New York City Opera, debuting that year as Hippolyta in Benjamin Britten's Midsummer Night's Dream and also appearing as Jocasta in Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex. In 1965, Troyanos joined the Hamburg State Opera, where she sang a number of popular mezzo-soprano roles. She made her first major European debut in 1966, at Aix-en-Provence, as the Composer in Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos. In 1969, she debuted at Covent Garden, singing Octavian in Rosenkavalier, a role she learned in a week's notice. It became a standard of her repertoire as did other "trouser roles," such as Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro and Romeo in Bellini's I Capuletti e I Montecchi.

Troyanos made her debut with New York's Metropolitan Opera in 1976, once again as Octavian, and subsequently became a regular on their roster. Among her many roles there were the Countess Geschwitz in Berg's Lulu, Sesto in Mozart's Clemmenza di Tito, Charlotte in Werther, and Adalgisa in Norma. Despite her preference for emotional and doomed heroines, Troyanos also became a noted Handel stylist and one of very few singers to take on the roles of both Cleopatra and Caesar in Giulio Cesare. She also had a flair for comedy and was said to be delightful as Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte. Just a year before she died from cancer at age 54, Troyanos performed at the Met, premiering the role of Queen Isabella in Philip Glass's new work, Voyage.


Kozinn, Allan. "Obituary," in The Day [New London, CT]. August 23, 1993.

"Milestones," in Time. September 6, 1993.

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