Francis Yeend Remembers Mario
with husband-accompanist James Benner

By Jeff Rense

As a member of the Bel Canto Trio in 1947, twenty-six year old Mario sang with Frances Yeend and George London, both of whom went on to distinguished singing careers at the highest levels of opera. I spoke to Frances about Mario. 
(JR) Frances, how was it to work with Mario and George London?
(FY) They were both kind of crazy, kind of cuckoo! (Laughs) I had to sort of keep them in line, those boys. There were kind of obstreperous...and always after the women. In fact, on day, Mario came into the room and said, "Frances, I went to bed with that woman at the desk down there, do you think that she might have a disease? Do you think I should do something?" I said, "You better go to a doctor!" (laughs).
(JR) Mario confided in you in a way.
(FY) Yes, well, in a way he did, at least that time. They were both just sort of naughty boys.
(JR) Boys will be boys...
(FY) Yes, and I tried to keep them in line. Of course, I'm sure the reason they (Columbia Artists) sent me out with them is that they thought I was the one person who could!
(JB) Well, I don't believe that! They sent her out there because they wanted to put together a great trio. She was anxious to further her career and it was exciting. The trio performances were mixed up with a lot of other dates.
(FY) I didn't just do the Bel Canto Trio.
(JB) She would run off and do a symphony date and come back and rejoin the Trio. Or, she and Mario would do joint concerts. Or, she and George London would do joint concerts.
(FY) Mario had a wonderful instrument that I always hoped would be channeled. He had a lovely sound...a lovely quality...a very emotional quality about it. Of course, London was, at that time, much more advanced in his musical training. And sometimes Mario was not very easy to work with (in rehearsal).
(JB) Regardless of the problems, when the three of them were out there on the stage singing, it was wonderful.
(FY) Right. When we were out there on the stage, it was really great!
(JR) How good could he have been in the opera houses had he trained properly?
(JB) Who knows! What the voice was...what the potential was truly staggering.
(FY) The two of them...(George and Mario)...they stayed together and they roomed together and they acted liked kids all the time! It was terrible (laughs). I tried to make them shape-up. Because Mario had this huge talent, people just knocked themselves out to try to help him in every way. Columbia did that. And it was an incredible instrument. I mean the potential of what he could have done had he been more of a student (of serious opera)...I don't think he was brought up with a lot of discipline.
(JR) If he had 'discipline' and the proper training. Could he have been at the top?
(FY) Yes! Sure he could...if he had had the training and discipline.
(J) Could he have been as good as there ever was?
(FY) YES! Terrific...he could have been TERRIFIC! (emphasis hers)