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History is full of interesting characters; some more obscure than others.

Take Mary Mallon. Mary was responsible for at least 3 deaths and possibly dozens more. Better known by her nickname, Typhoid Mary, she was a carrier of the disease typhoid fever. Employed as a cook, Mary unknowingly passed the highly contagious disease on to over 50 people. Although she vehemently denied being responsible for spreading the disease, the evidence was indisputable. She eventually had to be imprisoned because she refused to stop cooking despite being ordered to do as a condition of her release.

She went to her death believing she was innocent of the charges against her.

A more obscure figure from the past, Carl Tanzler, was an immigrant from Germany. While working as an x-ray technician in a Tuberculosis Clinic in 1920s Key West, Florida, he met a young Cuban woman named Elena Hoyo, who was stricken with the disease. He immediately recognized her as the Woman in White from his dreams and knew they were fated to spend eternity together.

Literally. After Elena succumbed to TB, he visited her every night in the crypt, and eventually decided to take her back home with him, where “they” lived happily until Elena’s parents found out about it.

I plan to explore a common thread between these two historical figures. I am considering an operatic theatrical work consisting of two acts; one act for each character’s story. Next blog, I’ll reveal the common thread.


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