In memoriam of the anniversary of Norman Treigle’s death on February 16th, 1975 we are spotlighting our Norman Treigle Papers collection.
Adanelle Wilfred (Norman) Treigle was born in New Orleans on March 6, 1927, the youngest of five children born to Wilfred and Claudia (Fischer) Treigle. His introduction to music was through his mother, who played both piano and organ, and his singing career began as a boy soprano in a church choir.
Determined to pursue a musical career, Treigle entered Loyola University where he studied with Elisabeth Wood for seven years. He won the New Orleans Opera House Auditions of the Air in 1947 and made his operatic debut with the company as the Duke of Verona in Roméo et Juliette. Over the next six years he developed a repertoire of twenty-two roles with the New Orleans Opera and studied both drama and ballet to prepare for his career as a singing actor. He sang solos at religious services of all denominations, performed with the New Orleans Pops and the New Orleans Philharmonic Orchestra, and hosted a radio show on WWL. According to his daughter Phyllis, the proprietors of WWL suggested that he change his name from “Addie” to a more professional stage name, and after studying various names, Treigle finally chose “Norman,” the name previously bestowed on his son.
Although only 5’11” and 140 pounds, Treigle had a voice that belied his size and a dazzling acting ability. He was known for his dominating portrayals of Reverend Blitch in Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah, Grandpa Moss in Copland’s The Tender Land, Escamilio in Carmen and Mephistopheles in both Faust and Mephistofele as well the lead roles in Boris Gudonov, Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Gianni Schicchi. He and Beverly Sills often sang together in operas including Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Coq d’Or and Giulio Cesare that was produced to showcase Treigle in the City Opera’s premiere in new facilities at Lincoln Center in 1966.
Despite a vagabond career, he remained a New Orleanian. He and his second wife Linda lived near the lakefront with her daughter, Lisa, who Treigle adopted. His daughter Phyllis Susannah (born in 1961 and named after Phyllis Curtin, Treigle’s Susannah co-star) lived with her mother. He smoked constantly, drank Scotch, enjoyed wagering on the races at the New Orleans Fairgrounds, and was admired for his sense of humor and generosity.
On February 16, 1975, Treigle’s first wife, Loraine, found Treigle dead in his New Orleans apartment. The cause of death originally was thought to be result of a bleeding ulcer, but was later determined by the coroner to be an overdose of sleeping pills. Norman Treigle was forty-seven years old.
The Norman Treigle Papers consists of materials detailing the career and legacy of the opera singer. Press, programs, correspondence, contracts, photographs, costumes, and audio-visual materials are included in the collection. The bulk of the collection covers his years as a performer with some additional materials gathered after his death.
The collection is comprised of the following series:
Series I: Press & Programs
Series II: Correspondence
Series III: Contracts, Royalties & Financial
Series IV: Public Relations & Memorial Fund
Series V: Sheet Music – Subseries I: Opera Scores – Subseries II: Oratorios and Cantatas – Subseries III: Art Songs & Popular Songs
Series VI: Educational Resources
Series VII: Photographs
Series VIII: Brian Morgan Research Files
Series IX: Scrapbooks & Oversized Publications
Series X: Audio-Visual Materials – Subseries I: Moving Images – Subseries II: Audio
Series XI: Costumes
You can view and research the Norman Treigle Papers Monday through Friday from 9-4:30 in the Special Collections & Archives of Monroe Library Loyola University New Orleans.