I picked up the CD of Oedipus Tex and Other Choral Calamities at Classical Millennium and found that soprano Pamela South was the original Billy Jo Casta at the first performance and for the recording. The recording won a Grammy in 1990 for Musical Comedy.
South makes her home in Portland where she teaches at Portland State University. I talked with her earlier today. (The Portland Symphonic Choir is singing PDQ Bach's Oedipus Tex and The Seasonings on Wednesday evening at the Schnitz.)
Tell us about your Oedipus Tex experience.
South: We did the live show at Carnegie Hall. I had to keep a straight face, and it was the best acting job I've ever done.
We did the recording later in Atlanta for Telarc. We had a great time.
How did you get the job? I mean, you're an opera singer.
South: I had sung Country Western stuff before, so I know the style very well. When Schickele was getting ready to find someone for the part, he contacted my agent, who recommended me. I was singing at the Kennedy Center at that time. So I sat down in the kitchen of the place where I was staying and made a tape of some Country Western songs. Peter liked them so I got a call little later, and he hired me.
We did some radio interviews together. He and I would talk and sing a little bit and laugh a lot. He is one of the funniest people I've ever met.
I hope that you can come to hear us!
South: Sure as shootin.
PS: South was the Rodeo Queen in her home town of Salmon, Idaho. She went to the University of Montana where her vocal abilities were discovered.