Music: Zoo Opera

Occasionally a lion roared; silver-haired Tenor Giovanni Martinelli roared louder. The summer opera season in Cincinnati's Zoo (with Ponchielli's 66-year-old La Gioconda) was on. Except for four operatic finds, it was much like other seasons. The four finds (chosen from 3,000 operatic aspirants recruited through nationwide radio auditions): Nan Merriman, a dimpled, 22-year-old brunette from California, who made her debut disguised in the stage wrinkles of old La Cieca in La Gioconda; Dorothy Ann Short, a 19-year-old University of Washington coed; Max Condon, a six-foot-two tenor; Baritone Mac Morgan, a former Eastman School student.

The Gioconda audience approved Singer Merriman's dark-hued voice,...

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