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Charlott Thyssen Memorial

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Charlott died recently at the age of 96. For many years she was an usher in the First Ring Left section at the New York State Theatre.

She also was a noted supernumerary - the tiny nun in Act I of the Zefirelli Tosca at the Met; the Cafe Momus scene in Boheme & was among the Act I Giselle entourage for ABT.

Charlott also gave backstage tours at the Met Opera House.

There will be a memorial held for her on Monday, May 21, at 5:30 PM at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle at 60th Street & Columbus Avenue, to be followed by "light refreshments & reflections" (contributions accepted) at the Chamber Music Society Rose Studio, 165 West 65, 10th floor.

A tiny woman with a Makarova smile, Charlott had a great presence. She ruled First Ring Left and enforced the Behavior Code. I'll miss her. She was fierce and sweet and really quite a remarkable woman.

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I don't know Ms. Thyssen, but the following appeared in the NY Times on June 27, 2004:

The most beloved regular in the super pool is Charlotte Thyssen, whose main job has been as an usher at the New York State Theater for 32 years (her present position: first ring, stage right). She has played a market lady in "Romeo" since the mid 80's. "I have this little extra thing — you know when the harlot collapses because her boyfriend is killed? I kneel down and comfort her until, all of a sudden, she decides she has to run after him. Otherwise, I'm all over the stage."

Ms. Thyssen, who also conducts tours of Lincoln Center, moved from Germany to the United States in the 40's. "I've been in the theater since I was 9, and I feel more comfortable on the stage than anywhere else," she said. "So no matter how small the part is, I'm happy. I'm a super for the opera, too, where I play witches and beggars. And I'm a very good nun."

Her birthday is celebrated backstage during the "Romeo" season. Her actual age is, as she put it, "top secret," but the day itself falls on June 2. "My birthday has become a national holiday," she said. "It gets bigger every year."

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I took a backstage tour of Lincoln Center back in 1991, as I visited there the first time. The tiny, crisp, old lday who took us around said she was an actress. Then I saw her again at the State Theater in 1993 when she was an usher. I began visiting the theater every spring (I was then living in Tokyo), and looked forward to seeing her every year. Mr. Balanchine was already gone, but I saw Robbins and Kirstein in the audience. I am sure I saw her quite often in the 1990's at the theater ... yes, at the first ring ... could she have been Ms. Thyssen?

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