Marie Tysoe Remembers
Conversation with Bob Sitsky 29 September 2006
My first contact with the ABC was with the radio service. I performed in programs like ‘Young Australia’ and some Sunday afternoon concerts at the Sydney Town Hall with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. When television began in 1956 I became involved with all the channels, including the opening at Channel 7.
Then the ABC decided to present their first TV opera – The Telephone by Menotti – it is a 25 minute one-act opera, with just two singers. I was the mezzo soprano and Kevin Mills was the baritone. It was done live to air from the radio studio at Kings Cross. The OB Van was parked at Kellett Street, and I remember all the cables going through the windows down to the van. The Sydney Symphony Orchestra was there. We had a marvellous producer, George Trevare, and it all went without a hitch.
I actually sang this opera before for a group of singers called the Sydney Opera Group. The ABC – that is Tony Hughes or Werner Baer - probably knew about that, and I got the call. It was an ideal opera to start off on television, as it only had 2 performers and was a relatively simple set and not many props.
During rehearsal I remember the producer asking me what I was going to wear. The conductor and one of the stage managers took me to a boutique shop at Kings Cross, and they bought an elegant dress for me to wear on the production.
Some other performances I had at Gore Hill in the 1950s included singing in the program Mary Rossi used to run – Womens World, and also in Café Continental.
The second opera I worked on at Gore Hill was in 1959 – The Prima Donna. That was conducted by Joseph Post. This was done live and we had a lot of trouble to see the conductor and also to please the producer with the camera positions. The orchestra was in the studio as well. It was easy to get out of sync if we did not see the conductor. It was very crowded in the studio.
Also around that time I performed in Cavalleria Rusticana. That was also performed live. We had monitors strategically placed in the sets so that the singers could always see the conductor.
Another early television opera I did at the Gore Hill was The Marriage of Figaro – that was in 1960. By that stage we did not do it entirely live – we pre-recorded the music. It was a much better way to do it. Of course, we now had to mime during the performance. We did the dialogue live. Alan Burke was the producer - he was wonderful to work with. I had the role of Cherubino. Geoffrey Chard was Figaro.
I ended up doing 12 operas with the ABC – pretty good for a mezzo! All these operas were done before colour television arrived.
Television was great for me – it gave me many opportunities to perform both on the ABC and also commercial television.
Marie Tysoe was a well known Sydney Mezzo Soprano who sang on ABC Television from 1956 to 1972.
(Webmaster) A list of Operas produced by The Australian Broadcasting Commission shows 62 operas were produced between 1956 and 1972. Marie Tysoe performed in Operas 1, 5, 6, 9, 21, 23, 31, 39, 45, 53, 54, 55.