Former Met singer gets encore of her performances

December 31, 2006|By Tim Smith | Tim Smith,Sun Music Critic

Anyone can get in on all the new Metropolitan Opera activities, from movie house simulcasts to satellite radio transmissions. Just ask Margaret Roggero.

This month, the day after she learned about the Met broadcasts on Sirius Satellite Radio, she found some relatives willing to help her learn how to get it installed in her South Florida townhouse. For Roggero, adding satellite radio to her life -- which doesn't have a computer in it, either -- was a big deal. Especially for an 88-year-old woman.

But the opportunity to hear the Met in this new format, to savor both new and old performances, was doubly important for this particular customer.

Roggero sang 595 times with the Met, in New York and on tour, as a valued mezzo-soprano during the 1950s and early '60s. She made only a handful of commercial recordings, so gaining access to archival material means a lot to her.

She was a little worried that the condo association might object to the reception device attached outside her patio, but she forgot about that once the radio started bringing the Met into her home.

In the first week, she got to hear herself sing as the faithful servant Suzuki -- Roggero was considered the finest Suzuki of her day -- in a 1960 performance of Madama Butterfly. The performance featured the stellar Dorothy Kirsten in the title role and Dimitri Mitropoulos conducting.

"It shakes you up a little," Roggero said the day after hearing that performance. "I'm not quite myself even now. It's a fantastic thing to be able to hear all of this again; it really is. I kind of relived the whole thing.

"I'm probably the only member of that cast still alive -- I don't know what kind of distinction that is, but there you have it," she added with a laugh.

She also heard a performance of herself as Mercedes in Bizet's Carmen. "For goodness sake, I sang a high A in that part," she said. "I often wondered how that came across in the house. It sounded like a scream in my head. But, boy, it sounded quite beautiful."

tim.smith@baltsun.com

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