Music: Opera in Oregon

In Portland, Ore.'s big, barny Civic Auditorium, 2,500 people last week bravoed and whistled approval of a tenor bellowing Verdï's Il Trovatore. The tenor's name, if not his aging voice, was authentic bigtime—Giovanni Martinelli of the Metropolitan Opera. The National La Scala Opera Company had hired him to prove that big names can be combined with local unknowns to make successful opera.

The impresarios of La Scala—a short, swart Italian named Amelio Colantoni and a onetime choirmaster named George Lee Marks—found that this principle had its difficulties. Martinelli demanded $1,500 per night—more than he now commands at the Metropolitan. The day of...

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