Tuesday, July 23, 2024

The Pic Nic. 1834.


All the three names -- author Bayly, musician Hodson and I presume this is Mr Williams of the London Theatres -- are well-known but I have yet to find a record of this comical musical monologue being performed. 

Sunday, July 21, 2024

A new American musical. 1852.

Came upon this today.

Yes, it's a musical. Clearly from the lists of characters and the opening 'comic duet' not what one would today call an 'opera'. 

Written and published in 1858, and made it to the stage 2 July 1859 the following year at New York's Metropolitan Theater. Seemingly for a two-night Benefit performance .. with quite a cast!

Adelaide Phillipps, Catherine Lucette, Lucy Escott, William H Cooke and Charles Guilmette ...

How, why? ... Lucy Escott had appeared at the 1858 Mount Vernon Festival ... Catherine Lucette had only been in America since May ... Guilmette was lecturing in Brooklyn on 'Voice Physiology' .. Miss Phillipps had been singing in opera, but not seen recently ... 

Mr Cooke? 'A young man not twenty years of age who sings in the choir of Dr Osgood's church' who was to be America's Brignoli. Hmmmm. Mr Ward's protégé?

It seems to have been a cobbled together group. And it was Miss Phillipps who played the title-role. I wonder who paid the bills.

Ah! May 1858. Private performance: The musical dilettanti of our city have been treated to a rare entertainment—a private opera, privately performed in one of the most aristocratic mansions of University Place, the residence of Dr. Thomas Ward, the author of the words and music, and one of the leading performers of his own charming production. The title of the opera is “Flora; or, The Gipsy's Frolic.” It is in three acts, and the scene is laid in France, in the time of Louis the XIV. The plot is romantic and pretty; the characters numerous and the action lively."

Aristocratic? Ah I guess Dr Ward paid the bills, then.

I wonder if anyone followed up this production with its fine cast and imprimatur.

Oh, Lord. What a laugh. I see his little piece has been picked up by one of those firms which reprints out-of-copyright plays (to order, I imagine). Well, I wont be ordering one ...

PS this is apparently where it happened!



Saturday, July 20, 2024

Spooky Beach and its kooky inhabitants


Paulie and I are really in Yamba for quiet, sunny, peaceful, lazy ... work. I tap away at this machine, in my flat, turning out deathless prose and theatre articles which no one will ever read; across the courtyard in my other flat P has installed a musicians studio where he is turning out compositions and arrangements ...

We only really go out for marketing, massage and the odd meal. 

However, today dawned so bright and fair that we decided a little jaunt to the adjacent village of Angourie was called for. I haven't been there for a while, since its classy retaurant moved out, and we had joyous memories of our last visit, where we ran into a very large and sleepy snake curled up in the tree over the path down to the beach.

It is a little more difficult for me to clamber down to the sands these days, but with a strong left arm to aid me, I did it ...

And oh! was it worth the effort!

Spooky is one of the scenic joys of our area. From there, you look across the waters back to Yamba ...

Or out to sea where, far off, the yachts dip and dive, and the occasional whale does a splashy somersault ...

Yes, see those steps? I climbed them right up ...

Well, there was no snake this time. Yes, I checked carefully. But there was a most wonderful floor show. Ornithological. As we reached the car park, this little feller came up to greet us ...

Followed by his slightly larger companion.

What a show. Camera clicked fifty times... every time you thought 'that's a super one', they posed a little better, came a little closer ...

Nature is truly wonderful.

We trundled on out to the Angourie lookout. Delightful. But no floor show. 

Time for a wee snack, then back to base.

The snackeries in the village have shrunk in recent years. All three places at which I have eaten in the past have gone. Closed and empty. Looks a bit sad. But in the 'ruins' there is another arisen. So we sat down and had very nice toasted sandwich (me) and salad taco (P) ... and another little visitor came to sing to us

Apparently he's figbird. But he's not as trusting or as pose-perfect as the kookaburras!

He flew off as we departed and headed back home to Yamba ...

Thank you, Angourie, and specifically Spooky and kookys ... a gorgeous wee adventure!

I visit the (19th century) circus ....


I had no intention of doing so. But, having finished my latest chunk of musical theatre writings, I was wandering around e-bay and saw this fellow. He was named, so I thought to fill in a few minutes finding out who he was ...

Traugott KREMBSER (1833-1889) voltigeur, horseback rider ... one of a celebrated family of circus folk.

I see the large family (I presume all that bore the name were kosher Krembsers) is lavishly written about on the web. Anyway, nice to have this gent pigeonholed. That's when I should have left the room ... but then I saw the some other photos had the same verso. Other members of the company? Different costumes, but ...

No names. The last two look as if they belong to a drama rather than a circus. But maybe there was a swordsmanship exhibition included.And here'sanother ...

These ar'n't from 1868 though because they reference 1870 .. or have no No5.

These and more can be found for sale at the marvellous on line shop of photo-discovery.com  Anyone collecting 1860s-1870s circus material needs to hurry there. 

Here are couple of chaps in rather alarming outfits. Crochet? What if it got snagged on an apparatus and unwound?

And I think someone's blind mother must have sewed this set of bloomers!

Maybe she'd make this poor chappie some too .

I think he's not from Russia, though. Italy perhaps?

Italy rendered up the best find, though. Trieste and Milan. Two named performers. English athletes and horsemen ... as, indeed so many of the performers in Continental circuses were

This is John WHITELEY

This is Harry WARD

And from evidence of furniture and frock, this will be Harry's offsider ... alas, unnamed ... but possibly Joseph Reed ..

Well, these three lads were all members of the famous Circus Renz troupe in Vienna in 1868. 

And then with the Delavanti troup in 1870 ...  as was what, I imagine, was another Englishman, George Early ...  Ward specialised in the double somersault. I think 'John Delavanti' was his catcher .. so ... maybe ..

Well, I have not discovered a huge amount about these fellows.

WHITELEY I spot first in 1860. Playing Harlequin in the pantomime with the Bell's Hippodrome Circus at Portland Street, Belfast. 'The pantomimic equestrian', 'bareback rider' through 1862 ..  if he is not the Master John Whiteley at Ward's End in 1866, I don't see him again till Vienna 1869 'der ausserordienlichen Voltigitübungen za Pferde'. After that he is in Berlin with the Delevanti troupe, then in Graz, and then joins the brothers Hadwin 'of London' and Williams in a Grand English Equestrian Company ('40 horses, 70 performers, 10 English clowns ... the finest company in Italy' (1877). In 1879-80 he is in Paris ... 
This is my last sighting

Family or 'family'?  And Mr Hadwin ...? I guess he was of the Brothers act 'comic niggers' in 1860 Bristol 'nephews and pupils of the great Mackney'. Really? ... Gosh, it's true. George Hadwin m Ann Mackney 1847 Stockport! 

WARD I see not after his stints with Renz and Delavanti, Joseph REED likewise ... George EARLY ... one never knows what their real names may have been. George DELEVANTI was actually George CRIPPEN (b Stepney 1848; d Plymouth 3 May 1889). John may or may not have been a brother ...

I should have left it there.

But I didn't. I had a go at some of the other English srtists and troupes in Europe ...

There are the BRIDGES family. Brothers James [West] (1835-1900) and Anthony [O'Neill] (1833-1879), born into the equestrian family of Reuben Bridges. James was most successful until he fell into the bottle, abandoned his wife ...

Gertrude Agnes (1846-1888) was their niece, daughter of Selim Bridges, another performer ..  she (ka Agnes), worked as 'Mlle Gertrude' and married Charles Avolo (eig Charles WINCOTT)  ... and got me into half-a-day's digging, because she wasn't the only 'Mlle Gertrude' ...

So here we go again!  On a huge safari ... which leads me .... to the seaside city of Kingston-upon--Hull, Yorkshire. And family and troupe known as SILBON. Their name was, shall we say, mobile. Silarbon, Silabon, Syllaborn .. but they'd been in the Sculcoates area for a goodly while. We have to hone in on George SIL(A)BON, a cooper turned publican, who married an Ann Taylor. Ann was illiterate, but fecund. She gave George 11 children before giving up the ghost. And of those eleven ... somehow ... half became equestrians and acrobats. The various internet websites and family trees are a little wonky, so I give my version of Ann's offspring (performers in bold):

Geo Taylor 1849-1905

Cornelius Robinson 1851-1891 m Kate Victoria Newbold 

Anne Eliza 1854 -1891 m John RIAL ka 'John d'Osta'

Maud 1856-1918 m George Henry Clarkson 

Louisa 1858-1887 m Edward Clark

Alfred Hugh 1859-1929, 'Le Petit A'Don' m (1) Caroline Alexandrine Elizabeth Jeunet (2) Paulina Emilie Schubert ka 'Mme Carola' -1900

Kate 1862-1941  aka 'Lilla' or 'Zilla' m Edward Mylett (ps Silbon)

Walter 1865-1903 'le petit Walter', m Minnie L King

Fred 1867-1876, 'Little Ebor'

Albert 1870- 18 November 1884 drowned 

Eugene 1872- 7 December 1943 m Everilda Southgate

Anyway, 1870. Mlle Gertrude .. teenaged Gertrude GREGORY .. who was trouping an act with gymnastics and trained French poodles, joined forces in 1870 with 'the brothers de Osta' (or sometimes d'Osta') in a troupe briefly ... Gertrude pulled out and went off to Australia to wow the colonies as 'the Queen of the Air'. So Alberto d'Osta and Silbon d'Osta took over .. yes, the brothers d'Osta were Cornelius Sil(a)bon from Hull and his pal John Rial. No not Rial as in Portuguese, Rial (var Ryall) from Sculcoates. John married Cornelius's sister Ann Eliza ..

Well, it's a detailed tale but Cornelius trained up his younger siblings and advertised as their father. The children had various stage names ...  but they were all real and actual little Sil(a)bons 

Cornelius and little Alfred, Walter the clown, and Kate ...

I don't know why Fred didn't join the act, but went out as 'Little Ebor' .. alas, not for long, for he died in Oran, Algeria before his tenth birthday. He was, confusingly, described as the brother of 'J[ohn] R[ial] d'Osta ...

The act travelled as far as Australia and South America ... where tragedy struck. Walter was injured in a train smash and Cornlieus died from causes unreported, at sea,, off Acapulco. The act carried on ... but it was no onger the same

Kate, Walter and his wife Minnie ... but no Alfred .. and 'Eddie Silbon' was actually another lad from Hull by the name of MYLETT. He married a gymnast named Eugenie (Jennie) ALFONSE in Guatemala, and they took it on themselves to continue latterly the 'Silbon' name and act.

"Jennie Siblon' Mylett

'original' ... sigh ..

I've gathered pages of Silbonneries. Real, half-real and assumed .... and latter day photos when the Silbon name was just a brand name ...

Anyway, Walter and Minnie went back to England, where he took on the management of a venue in Bradford. They did not live to a great age. 

Alfred seems to have married two gymnastic ladies in succession, and bore a son, Marius who died in his thirties. He himself lived till 1929.

Kate stayed in America. Married a James Rollins, then a Tom HERBERT ...

Oh dear, there are many a gymnastic tendril to this family ...

But I must stop ....

I don't think I want to know who this is.

Or even this ..

But someone may ....

Circussed out!  Ginger tea and bed I think .....