Saturday, January 26, 2019

Pauline Joran: From the Savoy to Santuzza and Rossweisse

My piece on the Gianettae of the Gondoliers and its pendant comments about how, seemingly, the Cartesian casting department, in the following years, lost its soprano way until the appearance of Ruth Vincent led to a learned and amiable discussion of the Sullivan website, which made me realise that I had omitted to rescue (American) Pauline Joran from among the flock of American tweety-bird sopranos of the 1890s.
Pauline only played 50 nights at the Savoy, in the role of the dramatic Saida in The Beauty Stone. And whatever was wrong with the show (I have never, alas, heard it), and something clearly was, there was nothing wrong with the dramatic soprano. So here, by way of apologia, is my little piece about Miss Joran.
JORAN, [Clara] Pauline (b Freeport, Illinois 3 August 1870; d St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington 13 August 1954)

Augustus Harris described Pauline Joran, in the 1890s, as ‘one of the most useful and efficient artistes on the operatic stage’. And there is little doubt that he was right.

Pauline was the subject of a number of biographical pieces during her career, some reasonably accurate, others not so precise. So, I’ll just get rid of the wrong bits first. She was not born in Chicago. Her father was not a music master. Her mother was not an ‘English pianist of repute’. She was not their eldest child (of three).

Father was Louis Grund Joran [Alois Josef Albin Anton Joran] (b Vienna 21 February 1830; d Chicago 22 February 1901). His life and career (up to 1872) has been minutely recorded by a certain John Gregory, civil engineer, of Milwaukee in a tome subtitled Biographies of Leading Men (of Milwaukee, that is) which he certainly was not. But he was a friend of Mr Gregory. His occupation was 'artist-painter', and I see a couple of his indifferent works survive, including a portrait of Mr Gregory. In 1877, I see him advertising for work as ‘portrait painter, paintings copied or restored …’.

Mother was Mary Elizabeth née Askew (b Milwaukee 16 March 1850; d 7 Sunderland Terrace, Paddington 23 March 1933), and the couple seem to have been wed around 1867. Their first child, Louise Marie (‘Lula’) was born 22 September 1868, Pauline came second, and [Henrietta] Elise the last. The dates of the children’s births were later much talked of, because the three sisters were to become very precocious child musical stars.

They did so without father, for Mary Askew Joran divorced her useless husband in 1879, for ‘failure to provide’. He 'failed to provide' in Sacramento, California, to where they had removed about 1877.

Lula was the first sister to appear in public (7 February 1878), as a pianist ‘aged 9’, Pauline appears as a baby violinist in 1880, a pupil of Charles Goffrie, once of London’s Réunion des Arts, and, by 1883, I see Elise joining them for an amateur production of The Invisible Price, put on by Julia Melville Snyder. In March 1884, Adelina Patti visited a private home in Sacramento, and the two little pianists and the baby violinist were put on show in front of her. The event, of course, made the press.

The sisters were now becoming well known as artists and as an act. I see them playing at Gordon’s Opera House, at the Orchestral Union, the Congregational Hall and Irving Hall, with Enrico Campobello, and touring round California under the organisation of Marie C Hyde, a local music teacher and the leading light of the Occidental Mandolin Club. In 1886, they held a ‘Farewell Concert’ to raise funds to go eastwards and then to Europe. Pauline Rita and her husband flautist Radcliffe appeared in their concert, but in the end they didn’t go to Euroep. They went in quite the opposite direction. First to Honolulu, with Campobello, and then to Australia. They made their first appearance at the YMCA hall in Sydney 30 July 1886, with great success, and became the darlings of the season as they continued on to Melbourne, Ballarat, Brisbane et al for fourteen months. Alongside the piano and violin items, impresario R S Smythe supplied a vocalist or two – locals Mary Ellen Christian and Gabrielle Boema, and then Californian Ella Lark (Mme ‘Aldini’) – but, in spite of what we are told, it seems that Pauline may have started singing in private already. A certain Mrs Blake-Alverson, who had been, for a while, the vocalist of the troupe in California, later penned her memoirs, in which she claimed to have taught Pauline her first vocal exercises for eighteen months. So maybe she did.

The Jorans arrived back in California (via Honolulu) in November 1887, but the following year they were off again, this time to Mexico, Yucatan and Cuba. And, according to another article, it was there that Pauline began singing. Maybe. Anyway, they can be seen arriving back in America 3 April 1890. They did not stay long. I pick them up next in Berlin, in December, where Elise is studying with d’Albert and Pauline with Émile Sauret. But apparently also with Julius Hey, the singing teacher of Rosa Olitzka and a fashionable man of the moment.

There was always talk of London, but I don’t know quite when the Jorans crossed the channel. It is somewhere said that Pauline made her first appearances as a violinist at the Crystal Palace. I can find no record of that. Wilhelm Ganz tells us in his memoirs that, in his capacity of music fixer at the Meistersingers Club he listened to Pauline play the violin, and then later tried her voice and recommended her to follow a singing career. He then goes on to tell of the singing-fiddling role of Beppe (not Beppo) in Mascagni’s L’Amico Fritz and how he suggested her for the part with the Carl Rosa.

It is all, doubtless, true but it is rather telescoped. And has led other folk, including Wikipedia, to get the wrong end of the stick. Giulia Ravolgi was the original British Beppe at the Italian Opera in London. Pauline played the little part with its gipsy violin solo on tour with the Rosa.

Anyhow, we are not there yet. I guess the Meistersingers episode happened pre-my first sighting, because the first singing engagement I see Pauline undertaking, is in 11 May 1892, at a do for the German Hospital. Fixer and conductor: Wilhelm Ganz. Then, on 28-29 June the Grosvenor Club put on two performances of Orfeo. Frauen Meissinger and Ghersen were the two principals, and Pauline sang the little part of Amor. Arditi, no less, conducted. And, immediately after, Pauline was announced to take part in the next Rosa tour.

The company’s tour opened five weeks later, in Dublin (15 August 1892), and Pauline made her theatrical debut as the Gipsy Queen to Alice Esty’sThe Bohemian Girl on the first night. Two nights later, she was Siebel to Esty’s Marguerite and E C Hedmondt’s Faust, the Mercedes to the Carmen of Zélie de Lussan, Lazarillo to the Maritana of Esty, and finally sang two leading roles: when The Bohemian Girl was repeated she sang Arline (‘sang and acted very cleverly’) with Louise Meisslinger as the Queen, and when Djamileh was produced (10 September 1892) for the first time in English, she featured, opposite Barton McGuckin, in the title-role. ‘She was much applauded’.

Pauline had established herself in the operatic world, in one month, by all the traits which would make her Sir Harris’s favourite: She was pretty, charming, a fine actress with a most musicianly mezzo-to-soprano voice (‘rich and flexible’, ‘pretty if not powerful’) which was still expanding, she sang correctly and as the Dublin critic noted ‘her thorough acquaintance with her text, music and stage business was deserving of all credit’. It certainly was. She had learned and played seven roles since her engagement, two months previously, and there were more to come. Pauline Joran was indeed an operatic managers dream.

The company moved on to Belfast and then to Manchester where, on 24 September, L’Amico Fritz was produced, with Ella Russell and Hedmondt, and Pauline pulled out her violin. The virtuoso Alsatian melody was probably the ‘big tune’ of the opera, and the effect of having a performer who could give it live, on stage, caused a great sensation. ‘Miss Pauline Joran produced her great effect with her violin solo, but she looked and acted capitally as the gipsy boy’.

Sheffield, Leeds, Dundee, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Liverpool … the tour marched on in to the new year, and Pauline added the roles of Ann Chute in The Lily of Killarney, Lola in Cavalleria Rusticana and Venus in Tannhäuser (‘singing with much charm and bewitching power’, ‘very finely played’) to her bundle. She also appeared in the various concerts the company gave en route, both playing and singing, and Elise, who seemed to be accompanying the tour, played too. In Liverpool, Pauline took the contralto part in a performance of the Stabat Mater. And in Middlesborough she went on for Esther Palliser as Santuzza.

On 19 July, Mascagni came to London to conduct L’Amico Fritz at Sir Harris’s Italian Opera, Covent Garden. Calvé and de Lucia repeated their roles from the previous season, and for the role of Beppe … Miss Joran was ‘borrowed’ from the Carl Rosa. Cavalleria rusticana was given, too, and Pauline sang Lola to the star’s Santuzza. On 12 July, the composer took the two operas to Windsor Castle and played them before the Queen.

Having borrowed Miss Joran, Augustus Harris was not inclined to give her back, and when his company began its tour at Edinburgh in September, she was there as Siebel, Mercedes, Urbano in Les Huguenots, then Mistress Ford in Falstaff, Anita in La Navarraise … but by the time they reached Liverpool she was also singing Santuzza.

The company returned to Drury Lane 24 March, where Pauline gave her Santuzza (‘excellently played’) to London, a whole lot more Mercedes, Siebel or Lazarillo, and, when Orfeo was put on, as the second half of the bill with Cavalleria rusticana, Pauline added the role of Eurydice (‘remarkable versatility’) to her Santuzza.

Harris’s regular season at Covent Garden began 14 May 1894 (Mercedes, Lazarillo, Lola with Calvé, Urbano) and doubled with a German season. The ever-willing Miss Joran sang Rossweise in Die Walküre. And then Siebel to the Marguerite of Madame Melba. And then it was back on the road as Santuzza (‘truly admirable’) Anita (‘her voice, pure and bright in quality, gains in strength … she sang the music admirably and acted occasionally with tragic power’), Mistress Ford to the Falstaff of Bispham (‘bright, sympathetic tones’) …

In early 1895, she voyaged to Italy ‘where she had the opportunity of studying the rôle of Nedda in Pagliacci with Leoncavallo himself, who spoke very highly of her conception of the part. She has been re-engaged for Sir Augustus Harris' coming season.’ Of course, she had.

She gave her Nedda in Harris’s spring season at Drury Lane, and the critics found that although she did not equal her predecessor vocally, she acted the part much more effectively. The previous Nedda had been Melba. During the season she put on breeches and, as Stephano, supported Melba in Roméo et Juliette.
It was announced that Pauline would play the role of Carmen in the new Harris season, but she didn’t. Instead, she swanned off to Paris, and thence to Milan to make ‘my Italian debut’. It wasn’t an earth-shaking debut. Edoardo Sonzogno had taken the old Canobbiana in Milan, re-christenened it the ‘Teatro Lirico’, and there, 31 October 1895, Pauline gave her Santuzza. I can’t find a notice. The Canobbiana wasn’t exactly news. From Milan, she continued on to the Liceo, Pesaro (manager, until he was sacked, Mascagni), and it was there she gave what seems to have been her first Carmen. And, of course, Santuzza.

When Augustus Harris re-opened at Covent Garden, 4 April 1896, she gave her Carmen. Philip Brozel was Jose, Amy Sherwin Micaela, and Pauline had to deal with memories of arguably the best Carmen of the era in Calvé. But she succeeded, with her ‘Highly coloured rendering, which delighted the Italians in the last winter season’, ‘A decided success ... has the physique for the part … Miss Joran’s voice may not be very powerful but it is very sweet in quality and she sings with much expression and taste’, ‘brilliantly successful ... an admirable performance vocally and histrionically’.

She played Nedda rather than Santuzza (‘seen to great advantage her acting being excellent and her rendering of the music indicated a decided advance as a vocalist’), and she appeared in Harris’s own opera The Lady of Longford which got more performances than it might have, due to being paired with Hänsel und Gretel (‘[she] displayed vocal and histrionic capacity which will ere long we are convinced raise this talented lady to a much higher position’. ‘[She is] one of those meritorious young artists who strive to do their best on all occasions’ noted the press.

And then Augustus Harris died. And Pauline Joran’s professional life changed. The year round operatic engagements gave place to a more relaxed schedule. In the latter part of 1896, where she would have been touring, she turned to concerts, with her Amico Fritz number as a speciality, and 10 December she gave a concert of her own, at St James’s Hall. Elise, who hadn’t had the brilliant career predicted for her by some, played, Richard Green joined in duet (‘Crudel perche’), and Pauline gave the waltz song from Roméo et Juliette, the Habanera, ‘Quella trine morbide’ et al.

The following month she sang the Habanera again, when she guested briefly with the Carl Rosa at the Garrick Theatre (26 January 1897), but 16 February she took a new line, when she, seemingly, inspired a production of Paër’s famous Le Maître de Chapelle as a supporting piece to a Kitty Loftus piece at the Prince of Wales Theatre. The little opéra-comique proved a surprising success, and Pauline repeated it at her concert of 8 July 1897.

And then ..

‘Pauline Joran has been secured by D'Oyly Carte for the new romantic opera by Sir Arthur Sullivan, Pinero and Carr. We understand that the authors consider her specially suited to the part she is to create. Miss Joran has been spending the winter in Brussels, perfecting her French repertory with Madame Moriani and M Vermandaele..’…

Well, The Beauty Stone by Pinero, Comyns Carr and Arthur Sullivan wasn’t the greatest of ‘romantic musical drama’s. Pauline had the wicked woman’s role, alongside Ruth Vincent as the sweet crippled heroine (!), but she was not well showcased (‘a very fascinating Saida, who is treated none too well by Sir Arthur Sullivan since the most is not made of her vocal capacity’) and the piece faded out after 50 performances.

And Pauline returned to the Carl Rosa company. She played Marguerite in Faust, Nedda and Carmen, and when the company came to the Lyceum Theatre she again played both Santuzza and Nedda.

There wasn’t much more. On 6 December 1899 Pauline married William Ernest Bush (b 29 October 1860; d July 1903), otherwise the Baron de Bush, of Preshaw, Hants, and effectively retired from the stage. The Baron was killed by falling from a train, just three-and-a-half years later, leaving Pauline with a baby daughter, Paulise Marie Louise (1900-1975, Mrs Lugg).

She lived half a century a widow, but interested herself (‘Baroness de Bush’) in the arts and young performers up till her death in 1954.

The other sisters had different fates. Lula married a Bremerhaven gentleman of business, Johann Friedrich Franz Melchior Schwoon (12 April 1899) and lived to the age of 97 (d Hove 12 July 1966). The marriage was unsuccessful, but produced a daughter. Elise, unmarried, lived with mother, until Mary’s death in 1933, and latterly became a recluse in a Bayswater flat. She and her little dog died, 4 August 1952, when her apartment was destroyed by fire. The newspaper reporting the drama commented ‘she is believed to have been a music-hall artist’. I hope not. M d’Albert and Moritz Moszkowski would have been disappointed.

Elise Joran
As for father, he lived till 1901, with a new wife and another daughter … still painting not very well, but probably more peacefully. It does seem as if Mary née Askew had been a bit of a ‘stage mother’.

Pauline Joran isn’t written about much in those books about nineteenth century American prime donne from Sutton and Biscaccianti via Caterina Marco and her ilk, or, better, Julia Gaylord, up to the days of Ella Russell and Albani. But she appeals to me … I reckon she deserves her place.

PS Well flutter me days, she's been Wikipedia-ed. Oh well, let's hope we agree!

PPS As a result of this wee piece I have, happily, since come in contact with the present day descendants of Pauline Joran, resulting in a cache of family documents, 'lost' for nearly half a century,  being restored to the family. Great-grand-daughter Ms Sonia York-Pryce of Queensland College of Art has succeeded in tracking down the Austrian forbears of the family, and filling out the early part of the story somewhat. So, add my description of Pauline's career, and I think this bit of musical history has come together quite nicely.


ss said...

Thanks, Kurt. Are you sure that her daughter was Pauline, not Paulise?



No I'm not sure. Transcriptions vary.

Mu77in said...

Dear Gerolstein,

I am Pauline Joran, Baroness de Bush's only great grand-daughter.
I very much enjoyed reading your blog.
My grandmother was Paulise Marie Louise de Bush (Lugg) her famous clothes collection is housed at Killerton House in Devon hosted by the National Trust.
Pauline's nephew was the celebrated composer Alan Bush, grandson of William John Bush of the WJ Bush & Co company, formed in Hackney in 1850s. Pauline's husband William Ernest Baron de Bush was an avid opera fan and fell in love with Pauline whilst she performed at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. He was tragically killed in 1903 in a railway accident.

Best wishes,
Sonia York-Pryce
My email is

Unknown said...

I used to work for W J Bush in Hackney for a while, as a quality control chemist also on development of fruit squashes.
Vincent Daniels

Unknown said...

Thank you for updating the site. It is always a joy to read.
Best wishes,
Sonia York-Pryce