Saturday, July 11, 2020

Cartesians: The basso from Battersea


MARLER, George [Frederick] (b Battersea 3 December 1833; d 17 Cowan Street, Camberwell 12 February 1902)


In forty years in the music and theatre businesses, bass singer George Marler took part in a widely differing array of entertainments.


Marler was born in Battersea, the son of pub-keeper John Fox Marler (d Salisbury Terrace, Walworth, May 1862), sometime of the Royal George, Walworth, and his wife, Esther née Morris. He was indentured to a hatter, and, through his twenties, made his living as a journeyman hatter. He married Eliza Ryan, daughter of a ‘table cover manufacturer’, 16 September 1855, and she began what was to be a considerable family the following year.


However, George Marler was a keen amateur musician. He played the ‘cello, and, having discovered his bass singing voice, joined Henry Leslie’s blossoming London amateur choir.  Leslie sent the young man to Ciro Pinsuti for singing lessons, and promoted him to the spot previously occupied by Chaplin Henry and Shirley Hodson, as a choir soloist in the quartets featured on his programmes. His obituaries have him making up a team with Mrs Fosdyke (sic), Janet Patey and Joseph Maas. This however, seems to be a ‘dream team’; I see him in December 1862 and January and June 1863 teaming with Lucy Fosbroke, Clara West/Janet Whytock and Henry Regaldi. later with Mesdames Gilardoni and West, Alice Stanley and a Mr Hawtrey. In the male ensembles he shared the billing with Messrs Barnby, Walker and S Smith.

 Mr Marler, however, soon moved on. Through the influence of Leslie, he was sent to Alberto Randegger for lessons and, as a result, when the composer mounted his operetta, The Rival Beauties, at Leeds (2 May 1864), George Marler was cast in the part of Tom Deloraine, alongside Emily Spiller, Julia Elton, W H Cummings and George Patey. The piece got a showing at the Crystal Palace later that month (30 May-4 June), giving Marler his first appearance on the London stage. The Rival Beauties was brought out regularly in years to come, and Marler repeated his original role on several occasions.

Over the next years, he fulfilled a multicoloured list of engagements: the Apollo Glee Club, the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in a quartet in Cymbeline and as a witch in Macbeth, in concert with Julius Benedict’s Vocal Association in an evening of cantatas, at the Oxford and Canterbury Music Halls in the operatic selections (Il Trovatore, The Ruins of Athens etc), at the Agricultural Hall sharing the bass solos in Elijah and The Messiah with Patey, or at Evans’s Supper Club, in the part-songs and glees sung there. For the whole of the 1871-2 season and into 1873, he featured in the Sunday Concerts for the People at St George’s Hall, where he performed in oratorio (The Creation, Judas Maccabeus, Stabat Mater, Messe Solenelle).


In 1872, Marler joined the English opera company performing at the Crystal Palace, playing in Robin Hood (Little John) and The Lily of Killarney (Mr Corrigan). He would return regularly to that company in the following years, appearing in Un Ballo in maschera (Samuele), Fra Diavolo (Giacomo), Lucrezia Borgia, Lucia di Lammermoor, Il Trovatore (Ferrando) and with a version of the company, at the Gaiety Theatre. He also sang at the Palace’s Saturday concerts, in oratorio.


In 1873 he appeared as Tippoo in the abortive production of The Magic Pearl, at the Alexandra, and then moved on to Covent Garden for Christmas. He played in the forepieces to the pantomime: Pierre in the Rose of the Auvergne and Hendrik Hudson to Charles Rice’s Rip van Winkle. Another operetta, Lisette (Opera Comique 26 April 1873) was not a success.

In September 1874, he fulfilled a short post-London season with the Carl Rosa Opera Company (Campomayor in The Crown Diamonds, Samuele, Commendatore in Don Giovanni) before taking up an engagement at the Philharmonic Theatre, playing Larivaudière in La Fille de Madame Angot, Devilshoof in The Bohemian Girl,  and the King of Spain in Maritana


He sang at more Sunday People’s Concerts, in more opera at the Crystal Palace and at the Alexandra Palace (Bartolo in The Marriage of Figaro, Baron in Lurline, Baron in La Traviata, Alidoro in CinderellaLily of Killarney, Crown Diamonds, Lucia di Lammermoor, Maritana, Il Trovatore etc), took part in the 1878 season of English operas at Her Majesty’s Theatre (Mr Corrigan/Danny Mann, Valentine), and, in 1879, turned up at the Crystal Palace, in Conniston’s Entertainment, playing a two-handed musical Hamlet and Ophelia.


And then it was back to Drury Lane, playing a small part and presumably understudying, in a blown-up La Fille de Madame Angot.

His Fra Diavolo and his Angot had shown up a veritable comic esprit in Marler’s work, so it was not surprising that, in 1880, he was taken on by D’Oyly Carte to play the Sergeant of Police in the touring The Pirates of Penzance. Marler would spend the next four years with the Carte companies, playing Private Willis, Dick Deadeye and – in a brief later return – Sergeant Meryll.

 From the Carte management, he moved on to Violet Melnotte to create the role of the landlord, Dufois, in the hit musical Erminie, but he preferred to go out with the long-touring company of the show, rather than continue into London, playing Dufois and later the Marquis. He played Major de la Gonfrière in Captain Thérèse, Capier in The Fifteenth of October and Count Hogginarmo in The Rose in the Ring in 1890-1.

From that time, however, he favoured management and directing over performing. He led out one of Carte companies, and finally, after his wife’s death (24 March 1894), came to rest in Dundee, where he had for some years directed amateur musical productions, as manager of the local Theatre Royal. He remained at that post until shortly before his death, in 1902, at the age of 68.

Walter Fisher: 'The English Dupuis'

Walter Henry Fisher. I've never really looked into the tale of Walter Fisher, not properly anyhow. I should have. He sang/acted with Emily Soldene, and over the past thirty years I've delved, as deeply as I could, into everyone and anyone who came within a COVID social-distance of my heroine. 

I see what has happened. In my Pollaky-probings into the backgrounds of the C19th folk of the D'Oyly Carte, I haven't touched the famous people, the well-known players. Others have done that. But, I realise that I am speaking of 'well-known' to ME! Which doesn't mean generally familiar. Yesterday, a chance conversation brought up a query about Mr Fisher... and I dived into i-cloud to find what I had stored there...

Yes, six pages of uncorrelated notes from my pre-internet Soldene days ... surprisingly, the only picture was the well-known series from The Happy Land ... where are the snaps of what Emily called 'the handsome tenor who was once a member of my company'? Elsewhere on the web ...? Good grief, he has a wikipedia article. Bad grief, no birth date, no death date, and -- although the performance facts therein seem selectively OK -- a rather truncated version of his career. What is up? If anyone knows and cares enough about Fisher to wikipede him (and I'm very pleased someone does!) why are these basic facts missing. Hmmm. My notes don't have those dates either. And, damme, in my Encyclopaedia of the Musical Theatre, I have him listed as 'b Bristol 1845'. Oh, I included him in the Encyclopaedia as an appendage to his even better-known wife, but I do say that he was for a decade one of Britain's most popular music-theatre leading men. And I give some of his roles. 

Time for a clean up. Back to basics. 

Humph. Walter Henry Fisher is not listed in the putatively correct periods for either birth or death. Just marriage. Why? Obvious answer, because he was not born as W H Fisher. Nor in Bristol. Nor in 1845. Nearly, on all three items, but just enough 'off' to muddle the researcher. But, if you spend a few hours scrabbling in old papers and records ...

Plain Walter (no Henry) Fisher was born in Clifton in the year of 1848, the second son of James Fisher and his wife Mary Anne née Powell. I don't know the exact date, but it can be found for the price of however much the British authorities now charge at 'June quarter, Clifton 11.264'. James Fisher was an interesting chap. A portrait painter of some repute. And Miss Powell appears, at their marriage in 1839, to have been 13 years old. I sha'n't linger over Miss Powell: she gave Fisher an Albert James, a Walter and an Amy Florence (1850) and then seems to have departed. Not life, for James is still listed as 'married' in 1891, but no 59 Whiteladies Rd, Clifton, the family's home and James's studio. Anyway, the best I can do here is to enclose James's obituary ...

Who died three years ago'? Wait a moment. Wikipedia has 1890, and I have '?d 1889 Liverpool NO'. I had the wrong W H Fisher. But still ... if he were alive in 1891, where was he? Not with father who is at Whiteladies Road with sister Amy (Mrs Campbell) and her son .. wait a mo, where is wife Lottie and the children ... puzzlement ... and 'three years'. And then I found it. 28 November 1892, Mr Walter Fisher was admitted to the Cleveland Street Infirmary at the Strand Union workhouse ... and he died there 1 January 1893. Father's obituary was right ...

Well, that's the beginning and the end of the story finally put in place. Now for the bit in between. The theatre and music bit. It has become common to think of Walter as an actor who happened to have a nice voice. I thought that, too, until I began to work on him. And the fact is exactly the opposite. He was a concert tenor vocalist from the age of fifteen ..

I've included the competition advertisement ... because it includes the young 'Mr Fred Clifton, comique'!

Brother Alfred played harmonium solos, Mr Morris played flute bravuras, Miss Farler of Rosemount, Nailsea warbled, and 16 year-old Walter's 'imitation' of the Reeves allowed him to show off his 'eminent' tenor voice.

He had plenty more chances. He sang at local events, particularly with the Bristol Volunteer Artillery Corps Dramatique, with whom he also put on a frock to play ladies' parts in their all-male plays, giving 'Adelaide', 'Goodnight, beloved', 'Come into the Garden Maud', 'She Wore a Wreath of Roses' and the 'Mother's Song' of local musician George Rennie Hutton Powell; he sang at Harrison's Rooms with 'his teacher' Signor Catalani and the gentleman's ?wife Luigia Leali 'niece of Madame Catalani' in excerpts from Atilla and Ernani, at the Rifle Drill Hall with the Welsh Nightingale, Lucy Williams (while Titiens and Grisi were at the Victoria Hall), at the Broadmead Rooms with Mackney, in Wales with Rennie ('he is popular in the West as a tenor of considerable merit'), at Shepton Mallett with the Volunteers, and when Carlotta and Fanny Addison took a Benefit at the Theatre Royal (April 1866), he joined them, as Henry Bertram, in a performance of Guy Mannering ('a local tenor of undoubted ability'). A week later, he was heard at the Broadmead Rooms giving 'Give me but my Arab steed' and 'Then you'll remember me', and another week on, at the Victoria Rooms. Three days earlier, Sims Reeves had appeared on the same platform in Roeckel's Anne Boleyn. Then it was off to Shepton Mallett, the Bristol Histrionic Club singing a Garibaldian song in Italian yokel costume ... The local paper confided 'He leaves shortly for Italy...'. Well, if he went it was for a matter of weeks, for by August the still teenaged Walter was engaged in his first professional theatre job, as a 'singing man' with J D Newcombe's fine Theatre Royal, Plymouth, company. Maurice de Solla was the other vocalist. But when Newcombe staged Der Freischütz it was Mr Fisher who was cast as Rodolphe (Max) alongside Marian Taylor and Maggie Brenner. The hometown press was soon able to crow

From Plymouth, he moved to Nye Chart's Theatre Royal, Brighton (Don Ottavio in Little Don Giovanni, Lord Woodbie in The Flying Scud, Valentine and Orson with music from La Grande-Duchesse, The Marble Heart, Don John in Much Ado About Nothing with Mrs Scott Siddons, The Spitalfields Weaver, The Merry Zingara with a certain Mr R Barker and his wife Maria Cruise, 'The Pilgrim of Love', 'The Death of Nelson', Osbaldistone in Rob Roy with Rosina Ranoe) with time out for concerts, Benefits and for a performance of Haydn's Fifth Mass, back in Bristol.
In 1869, he moved on to his next engagement  one for which the repertoire work with Newcombe and Nye Chart had well prepared him. He joined Captain Disney Roebuck's United Services Dramatic Company. There was no question of a Freischütz here, although a 'My Guiding Star' between the acts was always in order. Mr Roebuck specialised in well-known plays, and over the next seasons the budding actor played in such as A School for Scandal, East Lynne, The Ticket of Leave Man, Beauseant in The Lady of Lyons, Sir Mulberry Raikes to the Captain's David Garrick, George Peyton in The Octoroon, Dolly Spanker in London Assurance, Captain Absolute in The Rivals
Occasionally Roebuck featured a burlesque, a pantomime, an operetta, and Fisher was cast in Lischen and Fritzchen, Captain Maidenblush in The Little Treasure, Don Carlos, Brown and the Brahmins, and as Humpty Dumpty in Little Goody Two-shoes, in each case with the company's young singing lady, Lottie Venne.

During this time, Walter got caght up in a bit of stupidity. The stupidity was on the behalf of the actor David Fisher, the sometime fiddle-playing Orpheus of Planché's opéra-bouffe adaptation of Orphée aux enfers. Mr Fisher had a striving comedy actor and buffo singer son, by name Walter David Fisher, and, in what seems a foolish effort to publicise the boy, he took an advertisement saying, effectively, 'managers take care you get the real thing'. Our Walter responded:

The pair returned to Brighton where they played Steerforth and Emily in a David Copperfield adaptation, and Kit and Little Nell in one of The Old Curiosity Shop, before Walter set out for Glasgow from a brief run as Jack in The Two Roses. The following month he was at Nottingham playing Dame Margery in The Mistletoe Bough alongside Marguerite Debreux and Sam Winkle in Checkmate, then he and Lottie joined Francis Farlie's burlesque company. He was Montpesson in Caste, she was Jonathan Wild in The Idle Prentice. At Nottingham, they played in a 5-scene 'burlesque' of Chilpéric with Walter as the King and Lottie as Frédégonde, which opened the same night that Soldene opened her Geneviève de Brabant in the same city. 'If his light tenor voice had more compass his singing would add considerably to his acting, which is very good indeed' wrote the critic. Things had turned around. They remained at Frank Musgrave's Nottingham Theatre through into the new year (Tom Burrows in The Stranger, Leah, The Idle Prentice etc etc), and, on 20 March 1872, they were married. Walter had now become Walter HENRY Fisher ... but Mr D Fisher and son didn't let go ...

A week later, amid continuing episodes of stupidity, Walter began his first London engagement at the Court Theatre. Poor Walter David would never catch up. He died aged 32, in 1882. But for the meantime, Walter Henry had a bit of fun at his expense

The Court Theatre made Walter something of a 'name'. He played in the drama Broken Spells (Ambroise Valamour), 'a good importation from the provinces'), To Oblige Benson, the Hon Augustus in Extremes, and in the new season was seen as the Comte de Valmont in A Son of the Soil, Dandolo in the burlesque Zampa with Dolly Dolaro, W J Hill, Righton and Lottie as Rita, which was replaced October 19 by a revival of W S Gilbert's Creatures of Impulse in a shorn down version. Walter was cast as Sergeant Klooge (originated by operatic tenor W M Terrott) while Lottie was cast as Peter. After a fortnight, this stopgap gave way the a 'version of Dryden's' Amphytrion with Walter in the title-role, then it, in its turn to Charles the Second, or Something Like History, with Righton as Cromwell and Fisher as Lily, and Gilbert's Quits (aka An Old Score) in which he played Harold Calthorpe, alongside Marie Litton and Herman Vezin. The two pieces were played with the duologue A Happy Pair played by Fisher and Ada Dyas. 

The comedy Extremes, from last season, and an umpeenth revivial of Ixion (Walter was Jupiter, originally played by a woman, Lottie was Cupid) followed, before Walter was cast in yet another Gilbert piece, the burlesque The Happy Land. He played the part of Ethais in the fairy-story, which involved appearing as a burlesque of Mr Gladstone, and the performances given by him and by his 'political' colleagues, W J Hill and Edward Righton caused a riotous storm. Politics maketh the man: in spite of his other grand work at the Court, this was the role that Walter would be remembered for.

Marriage Lines, The Jealous Wife, Playing with Fire ... and 9 August 1873 the season, and Walter's (and Lottie's) engagement came to an end. It had been a great success for the young couple who had wholly established themselves as West End leading players. 
Walter already had his next shop. He was engaged for Henry Neville's company at the Olympic Theatre, and cast for another vapid fop, Vayne Limpet, in the H J Byron comedy Sour Grapes. And the burlesque Richelieu Redressed. Next up was a Beaumarchaisian piece The School for Intrigue in which he played Cherubino, then Neville and Ada Cavendish played Lady Clancarty with Walter as the juvenile man, Lord Woodstock, teamed with the Court's Miss Fowler. Lady Clancarty was a fine success, and during its long run the company played, with Fisher as Lord Tinsel, The Hunchback at the Gaiety for George Coleman's Benefit.
At the end of his contract with Neville, Walter was again lined up for his next job. 3 October 1874 he opened at the Philharmonic Theatre in ... opéra-bouffe. Giroflé-Giroflà had been a huge success in the original French version, as played in London, and Charles Head, owner of the 'Phil', desperately chasing another Geneviève de Brabant to keep his theatre fashionable had forked out for the sole English rights. And he had cast it pretty richly. Julia Matthews, London's Grande-Duchesse had the star role, Harriet Everard the plum comic role of Aurore, splendid contralto Jenny Pratt (sometimes 'Prati') was Paquita, and the rival husbands were played by Teddy Rosenthal of touring opera renown, and Mr Fisher, the actor from the Olympic as Marasquin. It should have worked wonderfully, but ...  
The newspapers marvelled that this 'actor' could sing so well and by January he was in a new job. He joined old colleague, Selina Dolaro, from the Court Theatre in her season at the little Royalty Theatre. In opéra-bouffe. Walter Fisher was becoming, veritably, as Punch labelled him, the British Jose Dupuis. Like Dupuis, the creator of some of the greatest of opéra-bouffe roles, in Paris, he was a comic actor cum skilled vocalist ... or the other way round ...

Jose Dupuis

This time, he was taking on a role created by Dupuis, the 'hero' Piquillo in La Périchole. Dolly, of course, was the heroine. The story has been a million times told of how Dolly and her manager, Mr Carte, looking about for an attractive forepiece/afterpiece for Périchole, secured Mr Gilbert and Mr Sullivan's 1-act musical comedy Trial by Jury ... that tried and true interpreter of Gilbert's worksWalter H Fisher, tenor, thus, was cast in the role of the Defendant and the rest is history. Fisher didn't remain in the cast throughout the run, however. He returned to Henry Neville, the Olympic Theatre, and the drama
The Gascon, starring Clara Rousby. The Gascon had a long run, after which Mrs Rousby and Walter played The Wife until his contract ended, and he promptly set out to join and ambitious opéra-bouffe company in Manchester. Manager: D'Oyly Carte. Star: Selina Dolaro. Well, one of the stars. 
Fisher played his Piquillo with Dolly, Ange Pitou in La Fille de Madame Angot with Pattie Laverne and Bessie Sudlow, and had a night off when Pauline Rita played the leading man in The Duke's Daughter. The company suffered from a surfeit of prima donnas, Dolly walked out ... and by October Walter was back in town playing David Copperfield and Dombey and Son for Charles Wyndham at Crystal Palace.
He returned to the Olympic, where No Thoroughfare and Clancarty were revived, but returned to Carte, now managing Kate Santley's Company at the Royalty. Kate was playing her own very personalised version of Orphée aux Enfers. She also gave a turn to Carte's Happy Hampstead (A Costermonger). Walter was 'off' for a while ....

Then it was back to Dolly for more Ange Pitou, Fritz, Piquillo .. a period as Grénicheux in Les Cloches de Corneville .. then back to Kate and the Royalty for the fine run of La Marjolaine, then Madcap, then accompanying the star on a provincial tour returning to the Royalty for La Jolie Parfumeuse (as Bavolet, once a travesty role), for Tita in Thibet (Brum), a piece too unsophisticated for town which ran for years in the provinces, and its companion Little Cinderella ...

After Dolly and Kate, Walter's next leading lady was no less that Florence St John, for he was cast to play alonside her as the juvenile Hector in London's Madame Favart at the Strand Theatre, before accompanying Camille Dubois on the road in the same role. Opéra-Comique, give or take an Ange Pitou, was not as much his fach, as it had been less that of Dupuis, as opéra-bouffe had been. Hector was a straight Don Ottavio-style juve.
Then I lose him. He who has gone so visibly, for years, straight from one great job. It is suggested that he had succumbed to the demon drink. And, possibly, thus lost his wife. In the 1881 census, Walter is at home with Dad. His family are in Lewisham. It's only a surmise ...
He resurfaces, though. I see him at the Royalty Theatre 22 June 1881 playing in a tryout of Le Grand Mogol, and then on the road playing the baritonic Robert in La Fille de Tambour Major, and the tenorious title-role in Billee Taylor for Charles Bernard ('a striking success'), before he joins the Soldene company (1881-2) to play Giletti in Madame L'Archiduc and Fritz to her Grande-Duchesse ... well, he was still 'handsome' according to her say so ... but he was only 32 ...
In 1882, he played the role of the Rev Henry Sandford in the Edward Solomon The Vicar of Bray, which it was reported that he left to take up a job in a Manteaux Noirs tour, but I can't find that tour. In 1883 (January) he played Harry Bumper in a London Benefit, and he rejoined old friend Carte to tour as Grosvenor in Patience ... but for periods, I see him not. The odd concert here and there ... and nothing after 1884, until Carte hires him one last time in 1887 ... alas, he got 'ill' again and had to have a long break. Was it 'illness' or was it the drink? 
He returned again to Carte in 1888-9 ... playing all kinds of roles, including, latterly, Leonard Meryll/understudy Fairfax ... until he disappears. Only to be found, it seems, in the workhouse, dying ...

He and Lottie had, in happier days, two children: Amy Hannah (b 25 Wellington Square 23 August 1873, and Henry James (b 1877), both of whom went on the stage. Amy, known as 'Audrey Ford', married actor Jimmy (eig: James Alexander) Welsh, who had been three days divorced, in 1906. Henry seems to have had a brief theatre career.

Lottie was all but a star. But I won't go into Lottie. Merely refer you to my sizeable (factual) piece on her in my Encyclopaedia of the Musical Theatre Vol III.

Punch was right. Walter Fisher was the nearest thing England had to a Jose Dupuis. He was not a singer-who-acts or an actor-who-sings (a bit). He was, like Dupuis, the real thing ... both a singer and an actor ... how sad that, too soon, it all went wrong. Why? I haven't any reliable sources to say that it was drink, but wikipedia says so. I'd like some evidence ... do you die, aged 44, from drink? Well, I suppose other folks died younger .. C W Norton, of the Soldene company for one ...

Ah well, maybe we need to buy not only that birth certificate but his death certificate as well...

End of tale. I'm sorry to leave Walter. He is a landmark performer in the British musical theatre. Now, if he had been cast as the original Alexis and Ralph Rackstraw instead of the upper-class tenorious gents that someone preferred ...  for, as the oldtime conductor Gustave Slapoffski reminisced to the press in the 1920s, he was 'probably the finest comic opera tenor the English stage has ever known'.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Cartesians: One madhouse, one suicide, one flight, uncountable infidelities and even a bit of singing

After some thirty articles, I'm having to weed through the nineteenth-century Cartesians remaining on David Stone's website to find candidates for 'investigation'. Some folk, of course, are bricked-up forever behind pseudonyms, the stories of others are already well-known, I'm trying to take the middle ground, and it's getting a little bare.

However, today I can offer Gater, O'Byrne, Osborne, two Wadmores and Miss Symons ... facts but, sadly, no pictures ... so, here goes ...

Albert [Arthur] GATER (b 1 Warndle Street, Croydon 5 February 1870; d Wandsworth 31 March 1930) is one of those folk whose unblemished personal history is easily exhumed ... he is clearly recorded in every census from his birth till his death. His professional career is, however, not so easily followed. Why? Because Albert was a chorister, and British theatre programmes of the C19th very often didn't list the names of the chorus. But I've winkled out some engagements.
Alfred was born in Croydon, the eighth child of William Gater and Jane née Jeffery. Father was an engine driver for the water works, and Albert grew up in Waterworks Yard, to where to family shifted when he was a child. At the age of fifteen, he took his first employement as a parcels clerk on the Brighton line, but after two years parcels palled, and by 1891 he is listing himself as 'violinist'. That doesn't appear to have lasted long, and by 1893 I see him up on the stage, playing King Hurricane in the Croydon pantomime Robinson Crusoe. Soon after, he (a) married local girl Sarah Maude Hepworth and (b) joined the D'Oyly Carte company as a touring chorister. He played The Chieftain, The Mikado, The Vicar of Bray, but was more in evidence as a fieldsman in the company's cricket team.
In 1898, he sang at Margate's Hall by the Sea, and then became a member of the Savoy Theatre troupe, where he appeared as Francesco in The Gondoliers, the Associate in Trial by Jury and depped as the Defendant and, for a full week, for Robert Evett as Ralph in HMS Pinafore.

My sightings of him are few over the next decade. I see him singing Marco with the Portsmouth amateurs in 1903, at the Ellen Terry Benefit Trial by Jury in 1906, and recording a film of 'excerpts from The Mikado in the same year. However, he becomes more visible from 1911 as a chorister in West End musical comedy -- Peggy, Tonight's the Night in London and New York, After the Girl, Yes, Uncle and, in 1919-20 Baby Bunting. Doubtless there were others, less traceable ...
Albert died in 1930, Sarah Maude in 1948, and their only son (with issue) Edgar Albert Sinclair Gater in 1961. 

If Albert appears to have led a very even and regular life, the same cannot be said Mr C[hristopher] J[oseph] O'BYRNE (b St John, Newfoundland c1849; d 36 Bedford Street, Liverpool 31 August 1917). He was born in Newfoundland, because his Irish father, Charles was seemingly serving in the armed forces there. They must have returned to Britain in the 1850s, as sister Agnes was born in Gosport in 1860. However, there are curiosities in the documentation of this family so I won't go into its ramifications. Merely to say that Christopher was living in Liverpool in 1871, with parents, sister Agnes (imbecile, d Dublin!) and little brother Charles, and working as a shopman.
He took music lessons from Edwin Reeve, and I first see him on a platform at Reeve's pupils concert at Hope Hall in 1876. I also see him singing Weber's Mass in G with the local Apollo Choral Society, at more Reeves shows, as leading man in a performance of local music The Happy Valley by T M Pattison, at the Hope Hall, and at William Lea's concerts in the next few years. He also got married (1879), his wife being Liverpool's Eleanor Dobson, the daughter of a local provision dealer. Their marriage would last nearly half a century, but only because the childless Eleanor was amazingly forgiving.
Story. In 1881, Christopher appeared on the bill at a concert given by local soprano 'Madame Bonvini', a young widow-lady from Cremona whose real name was Palmira Lanzani. Or the widow James Francis Crowley. Or maybe not. Anyway, she had one child born in Italy, presumably to Signor Bonvini, and three more by Liverpool Irish publican Mr Crowley, so she was no virginal soprano. 

I won't go into details here, but the parentage of Palmira's children is dubious ... unless, of course, Signor Bonvini WAS Mr Crowley, but the duet partnership ended in 1878 (exit Bonvini), Mr Crowley's unrecorded death is supposed to have occurred in 1880, and 'Mademoiselle Palmira Bonvini' has a daughter 28 December 1880 ... allegedly to this Crowley ...  You see? I guess Palmira, who had become a big singing fish in a Liver-pool, was at a loose end, for her next concubine was to be Mr O'Byrne.
On 12 September 1881, 'Madame Bonvini' gave a concert at Hope Hall. Mostly local talent, but also Jospeh Maas. Maas sang Balfe, Cowen and Cotsford Dick songs; Mr O'Bryne gave .M'appari', the Rigoletto quartert with Madame ... you could guess something was up 

And just over a year later (7 November 1882) a little Christopher Alexander O'Byrne/Lanzani/Bonvini/Crowley was born. Palmira's eldest son had already been 'homed', her little daughter would soon die, at five, but another child ...?  Well, Eleanor, three years a wife, took the child in and raised it as her own. Palmira went on to another ephemeral (but actual) husband, had another child, and lost the father the next year ... and a few years later emigrated to Canada when she married, of course, again ...  
Mr O'Byrne was gone even before the baby was born: off on tour with Cartesian star Duglas Gordon, playing Martel in Genevieve de Brabant. From there, he joined the company playing La Vie in the role of Blucher the bootmaker, and then moved to the D'Oyly Carte, singing Cyril in Princess Ida (1885). And that was the end of Mr O'Byrne. He now reinvented himself as 'Calder O'BEIRNE', lead tenor and operatic manager.
By 1888 he was already on the road, initially in paartnership with baritone Edward Leahy, with a team of largely unknown vocalists playing Faust, Maritana, The Bohemian Girl, La Sonnambula, The Waterman and other popular operas from Ebbw Vale to Castleford to Malvern

Leahy withdrew after the first season, but O'Beirne carried on, through regular suings for salary in arrears, in tiny towns. I would love to know who 'Miss Clara Bernard' was, for she rose quickly to leading lady, played Lange when La Fille de Madame Angot was added to the repertoire and remained with the company for over six years. The company itself ran for something like ten years, O'Bierne sang countless Don Cesars and Thaddeuses and Ange Pitous for the whole decade, singers of the quality of Lizzie Riseam and Campbell Kneale spent time with the group, and it filled a gap in provincial entertainment of its time very convenably.
He next took over the management of the Palace Theatre at New Brighton, but before long he was back in the saddle as an actor-manager not, now, in opera but in Irish drama. This lasted several years, until Mr O'Beirne retired from the stage, and settled down as a singing teacher in Liverpool. I see him in 1911, aged 62, with Eleanor, 61 (in the previous census of 1901 she had been in the company of 18-year-old barman Christopher). Eleanor died in 1916, and O'Bierne remarried (Kezia Thomas). However, he died himself the next year.
The great survivor was ... Palmira. She survived her last mate, lived until 1938 (10 July), and didn't let go of her abandoned son. She sent him this photo, at the age of 83 ... the family historians have preserved it, but understandably they have not been able to build a coherent Tree. Chuckle, they are missing too many marriage certificates ...

E[dward] G[eorge] OSBORN[E] (b Liverpool 1849; d ?London 1902) was a very early Cartesian. In fact, although he played for Carte, he probably did not play in any of the works of Gilbert and Sullivan except, perhaps, Trial by Jury. 
Osborn (without an 'e') was born in Liverpool, one of the sons of Edward George, cooper (1816-1884) and his wife Harriet née Hughes, and in 1871 he is already describing himself as 'actor'. At some stage, he was taken on at the city's Prince of Wales Theatre, but I can only find one review of his performance. When Miriam's Crime was produced he was labelled 'the weakest point in the piece'. He had played a lowlife character 'like a Cambridge undergraduate'. However, a couple of years later, at the same theatre, as Eytem in Meg's Diversion he was acclaimed 'an undoubted success .. unquestioned talent as a comedian. In between those two performances he had been a member of Selina Dolaro's company in London, cast as Panatellas in La Périchole. When The Secret was given as an accompaniment, he was topbilled. So, when Trial by Jury was substituted ... ?

After his time at Liverpool, he went on tour as Louchard in La Fille de Madame Angot (1878), rejoined Dolly Dolaro for more Périchole at the Folly Theatre, and then on tour playing Hyacinth Parnassus in The First Night (1879). He was hired to stage and play in Alcantara at the Connaught, but got into strife with the management, allegedly for 'neglect of duty', sacked, and promptly got the same job at the altogether healthier Globe Theatre. Which was playing a revival of Les Cloches de Corneville.
The next step was forseeable. He picked up a George Lash Gordon drama, London Pride, from the Pavilion Theatre and organised a company to tour it to susceptible town. Brother Robert Joseph Osborn (no 'e') was in the cast, Osborne played Sam Miller, the star role, and a Miss Bordien who had been playing a small part in Holt and Wilmot's Mankind tour was leading lady. Eleanor was the current 'Mrs Osborne'. The tour seemingly did fairly well, but at Christmas E G went off to Bristol to stage and star in Cinderella ...
In the censi of 1891 and 1901 he still describes himself as a comedian. Wife Mary Agnes née Turner is an actress. Their daughter is named Mercedes, which makes it look as if someone had been in Monte Cristo. But I can only see E G playing the odd music-hall date.
The family historians don't know anything, but in 1902, little Mercedes was taken out of school by her mother, and they are next seen headed for South Africa ...
There is an Edward George Osborn listed in the Surrey cemetery registers in December 1902 ...

Siddie SYMONS [SYMONS, Sarah] (b Launceston, Cornwall c1857; d Southampton December 1911) is a conundrum. There is a story in there somewhere ... but I have only been able to drag out a few items of fact. Her promising career, largely with the D'Oyly Carte companies and Redfern and Rousbey's Dorothy tour ... and her ghastly marriage and its wretched consequences. Yes, another one. And, yes, she married a fellow Cartesian soon after joining the company. It was, as so many such marriages were, a quick disaster. 

My first sighting of 'Siddie' (sic) is in the 1881 census. She is in Harrogate, with her widowed mother, Ann. And yes! Charity concert (January 1880): 'a comparative stranger to Harrogate, a hearty reception .. 'O fair dove, o fond dove', 'Tell me my heart' .. 'decidedly above the average as an amateur'. I wonder if she is the Miss Symons singing at Ladock in 1883 ..
Anyhow, at the approach of thirty, something made Miss Symons decide to try her luck as a professional singer. And she joined D'Oyly Carte. And promptly married (22 March 1884) Mr Wallace Brownlow. Life would never be the same again. 
'Siddie', after a trial as Princess Ida, played Yum Yum and Rose Maybud on the road between 1886-8. She went on to play principal girl in Glasgow's 1888 Mother Goose, then to play Dorothy in Cellier's opera (1889-90). Her marriage was already in tatters, as Brownlow carried on a career of serial infidelity while, at the same time, his professional career took him up to the Savoy Theatre and the English Opera House. 
She played Cinderella at Burnley in 1891, and then folded. She sued for divorce, he (from the safe distance of Australia) counter-sued, mud was flung ...
My next sighting of Siddie Brownlow is in the 1901 census. She is in the South Stoneham workhouse in Hampshire. She would stay there for a decade, until she was moved to the insane asylum 3 October 1911. Within weeks, she was dead.
In 1919, Brownlow, a drink-sodden pauper, committed suicide in the Melbourne Hotel fron which he had just been evicted ...


And lastly, the Wadmores. Two Wadmores. In fact, there were three Wadmore brothers, soms of a London umbrella manufacturer, and the one who didn't sing for Carte was the memorable one. John Lofting Wadmore (b 14 Horsefield Street, Islington 4 December 1848; d Clarence House, Clarence Rd, Wood Green 4 November 1878) was one of the great bass hopes of the English concert world. But his promise did not have a chance to blossom. Just a couple of months after singing at the 1878 Three Choirs Festival, and a few days after singing at the Covent Garden proms, he died 'of a cold' aged 29.

Brothers Walter Herbert WADMORE (b Stonefield St 27 June 1850; d South Africa) and Ernest Howard WADMORE (b 5a Albion Rd, Dalston, 1856 x 29 March 1857; d Old Church Hospital, Romford 8 December 1927), gave up umbrellas and turned to music, too. The year after John won the Crystal Palace Prize, Walter finished second in the tenor section. Ernest attended the Royal Academy.

Walter toured with Susanna Cole’s little Fille de Madame Angot company, played the Defendant in Trial by Jury and Alexis in The Sorcerer at the Opera-Comique and on tour, sang with the Crystal Palace opera and Henry Walsham’s opera company, at the Aquarium, Tunbridge Wells and Margate concerts, replaced J A Arnold as Corcoran in The Wreck of the Pinafore, and, as late as 1885, would be seen touring as the Marquis in Les Cloches de Corneville. In 1886, in partnership with Signor Unia ‘maestro del piano, HM Theatre’, he ‘a teacher of singing ... ten years stage experience’ set up what seems to have been an ephemeral ‘opera and concert agency’ in Bloomsbury. However, marital mayhem and a surfeit of wives seemingly caused him to disappear off to South Africa (‘professor of singing, Varney’s Corner, Capetown’ 1895) where goodness knows what became of him. I suspect the mention, in 1903, of him as ‘deceased’ on his daughter’s wedding certificate is rather a case of wishful thinking.


Ernest (‘has the style of a true musician and displayed a baritone of much purity’) was a chorister with Carte, and a singing teacher, before ending his working days at the Woolwich Arsenal. He, too, was hymenally unfortunate and divorced his wayward wife, Rosalind Bertha (née Haynes, b 1 December 1869), in 1918. 



Sunday, July 5, 2020

Horace the consul or, 'its cold in Bournemouth'

Second morning cuppa, and I've done it again. Nearly 10am, the horse dentist has arrived to give our our ladies a brush up, and I wandered into the 19th century ... and when I saw this fellow, I just couldn't resist just a wee investigation ..

He's either a huge poseur, a wannabe writer, or .... Hammond with one 'm'? .. could he be the real thing?

Well, he's the real thing. Bournemouth put me off. The Hamonds belong in Norfolk. Lords of the Manor, highranking clergymen ... related to not one peer but a bunch of the blighters ...

This one married Lady Alicia Beresford (12 September 1834), who was related to several more peers (Earl of Tankerville, Baron Decies etc) and .. well, he died 8 February 1876 at Bournemouth, and his little obituary notices summed up his career

Hmmmm. Sent to Cherbourg, eh? But he seems to have taken his post seriously and the national archives hold reams of letters from him to British government high-ups, many, I notice, dealing with the movements of ships, home team and 'enemy'.

I guess this photo was taken not very long before his death ... it's rather splendid, isn't it?

Now, I must get back to the villages of rural Leicestershire: there are some C18th gravestones there which brother John is investigating for his current poetic project ...

Saturday, July 4, 2020

The Tragedy of the Squire of Denham

I shall have to stop this photo delving with my morning cup of tea. I spot something which raises my curiosity, and end up spending an hour or two of my day investigating it! Yesterday it was the woodreeve of Petworth and Lizzie Enriquez, the other day the lovely folk at Margate ... today ... a positive heap of goodies ... opéra-bouffe singers from 1860s Belgium ... 

Jose Dupuis

Alfred Jolly

church and concert singers from America (no, vendor, they are not English!) ...

Alice Whitacre

Louise Palmer

and, then, this darling group from Eton. Mrs Way with sons Gerald and Roger ... 

and, hurrah! a date! April 1881. Of course, April 1881 was census month ... eeeeeeeeeasy! And, oh my, look what I've chosen! Six children ... eleven servants .. 

Denham Place was obviously some establishment! And father Benjamin Henry Walpole Way obviously the head honcho of the area ..  Oh, cripes!

This record is held by Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies ... 5 Denham Court Estate Doggetts Farm. ... Creator: Way family of Denham PlaceBuckinghamshire .

Oh, cripes! 

The website House and Heritage quotes: "As with many country houses, the twentieth-century was not kind to Denham Place. It remained with the Way family (descendants of Sir [recte: Major] Roger) until the 1920s, it was then bought by a Mr and Mrs Fothergill and then Lord and Lady Vansittart, who owned it until 1980. 

"At this point, it fell into the hands of a series of unsympathetic owners - firstly, the Allied Breweries Pension Fund, who leased it to The Sheraton Hotels Management Corporation as their HQ, before passing the lease to Rothmans International in 1988, before they bought it in 1991. By this point the house had been long stripped of its contents and during the corporate phase of its life, the interiors had been equally denuded and filled with cheap hotel furniture.
"When Rothmans was acquired by BAT Industries in 1999, the house was put up for sale for £6.5 million. It was then bought by trustees for the Jatania family (who specialised in purchasing and reviving unloved beauty brands) and who are reputedly worth £650 million. In 2002, they engaged contractors to begin a extensive and lavish restoration, reputedly costing £20 million."

Sir Roger ... that must be the baby above (b Denham Place 15 August 1878). But it was Gerald who caught my eye. Gerald Oscar Way (b Denham Place, 17 February 1875; d Holly Bush Lane 23 June 1938), educated at Haileybury College ... Major in the North Staffordshire Regiment ... served in France ... DSO ... Egypt ... a bachelor until 1925, when he wed Florence Maud Lilian Whitehurst ... Denham Place had been sold, so he was now living at The Pyghtle, Bulstrode Way, Gerrard's Cross ... in 1938 it, apparently, came time to downsize again. And Gerald found he could not take it ...

The English press doesn't seem to have reported the suicide much ... that wee piece came from a Scottish paper, this one from the colonies ...

I see Denham Place is Grade I listed, these days. And flats. Sic transit gloria Wayensis.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Eliza Enriquez. Victorian contralto ...


ENRIQUEZ, Miss E [HENRI, Eliza] (b 1 Gee St, Somerstown, London 28 August 1848; d 20 Ilchester Mansions, Kensington 15 April 1930) 


In 1870, when the celebrated tenor, Mario, was preparing his Farewell Concert Tour of Britain, the tour’s managers, Messrs Rudall, Rose and Carte, announced, as his supporting party, the soprano Luise Liebhart, pianist Antoine de Kontski and violinist Camillo Sivori, with ‘Walter Maynard’ (Willert Beale) as accompanist and the young Mr D’Oyly Carte as company manager. However, come September 5, when the party set out for its three months of dates in all the important cities of Britain, plus a few less important but convenient, there was one additional member to this group. A young, apparently Portuguese contralto, a client of the D’Oyly Carte agency, named Mdlle Enriquez or Enriques, whose name was as unfamiliar to the cities of Britain as those of her companions were familiar.


Although Mdlle Enriquez was indeed young – just turned twenty-two, in fact – she was nevertheless not quite a debutante. She had, earlier the same year, already been seen at St James’s Hall as featured vocalist in the Saturday pops (12 February), at the Crystal Palace concerts sharing a bill with Mathilda Enequist (12 March), as the solo singer in the popular concerts of the Liverpool Philharmonic Society (7 April) alongside Joachim, Ries, Zerbini, Piatti and Halle, at the Queen’s Rooms (2 May) with Hermine Rudersdorff in E H Thorne’s concert, and doubtless in a few other places as well. And she was neither a Mademoiselle, nor Portuguese. Prior to her encounter with Mr Carte, the young singer had been just plain Lizzie Henri.


Lizzie Henri was born in Somerstown, London, in 1848, the first daughter in the family of a London Jewish cordwainer named George Henri and his wife Rosetta née Cohen (1815-1867).  However, although father George was a shoemaker in 1848, he was no longer professing such by 1861. The census of that year, which finds him, his wife, and children George, LizzieKathleen (?), Louisa and Jane, living at number 9 Lamb’s Conduit Street in Holborn, describes both Georges, father and 15-year-old son, as ‘vocalist’. Well, George Henri senior doesn’t seem to have made any kind of a mark as a singer, and George junior died at the age of just twenty, but the Henri family was ultimately to have its eminent vocalist: ‘Miss Enriquez’, otherwise sister Lizzie.


Lizzie, apparently, learned her singing with Henry Deacon – in 1873, a gossip writer mentioned that ‘she has been studying with him for the last four years’ and, indeed, his obituaries claimed Lizzie, Anna Williams and Herbert Thorndike as his prize pupils. But, by 1873, Miss Enriquez had already been performing in public for something like (at least) four years. I do not know where she first stepped onto a concert platform – there are all sorts of ‘Miss Henri’s on the halls, including one at Wilton’s as far back as 1864, another a ‘clairvoyant and vocalist’ -- but my so-far first sighting of her, in a fully-named capacity, is in May 1869 on the bill at the Cambridge Music Hall. Oh! That’s assuming she’s not the ‘Miss Henri’, contralto, of the Alhambra, the Metropolitan et al, which – given that that lady is described as ‘a vocalist of far greater acquirements than usual at the Music Halls’ -- she may very well have been. In August, Miss Lizzie Henri ‘the pleasing ballad vocalist’ was on the programme (with a Mons Henriquez, with his performing dogs and monkeys) at the London Pavilion (‘sweetly warbling sentimental songs’). Also, in August 1869, she can be seen at the Lecture Hall in Derby, where a pair of concerts was given for the benefit of the folk who crowded the city for the annual race meeting. ‘Mr E W Mackney the inimitable nigger singer and dancer’ topped the bill, Henry Nicholson played the flute, Charles Salaman accompanied, and the lady vocalists were Mme Thaddeus Wells, soprano, and Miss Lizzie Henri, contralto. In October, she was giving ‘Il segreto’ at the Bedford, and on Boxing Day, with Mackney and Mrs Wells, at Bristol.

Mr Carte


Just months later, Miss Henri was ‘Mdlle Enriquez’, less than twelve months on she was hired to support Mario, instead of Mackney, and from there on, she was on her way to a highly distinguished career on the concert platform. 

The Mario concert-party proved to be an exceptionally fine and successful one, with each and every one of the artists winning praise and encores at each and every concert. This was just as well for, not long after they set out, the nominal star of the affair caught a cold, which developed into a relaxed throat, and he was ‘off’ for some three weeks. The others went on without him (still billed as the Mario concert party!), and the initial disappointment in all the mostly northern dates they covered, during his absence, turned to delight when the concerts were actually given. ‘Nearly every piece was re-demanded’, reported the Chester critic. Lizzie’s contribution included Siebel’s ‘When all was young’ from Faust, Virginia Gabriel’s song ‘She came like a dream’ and – when he was on – the Azucena-Manrico duet from Il Trovatore with Mario‘Mdlle Enriquez was more than successful in her songs and was encored in ‘When all was young’’ reported Lancaster, ‘Mdlle Enriquez also came in for her share of favour and deservedly so’, nodded Manchester, whilst Hanley recorded that Liebhart had been recalled three times and Lizzie twice. Margate gave her particular mention: ‘We cannot help but express our gratification at the progress being made by Mdlle Enriquez, an artiste of undoubted promise. Her voice is well trained, powerful and truly musical, her manner is pleasing, and her expression is clear and distinct. She was repeatedly applauded and her songs, especially Gounod’s ‘When all was young’, were loudly encored.’ ‘Progress’? So they had heard her before? 

The tour came to an end with concerts at the Brighton Dome and Ipswich’s New Public Hall, the little company returned to town and, by the end of January, the now thoroughly discovered Mdlle Enriquez was up on the platform at St James’s Hall at the beginning of what was to be an enormously busy year as a performer.


The fifth season of the highly successful Boosey Ballad Concerts had already begun when the Mario team returned to town, with Janet Patey, Julia Elton and Anna Drasdil as its featured contraltos. For the fifth of the six concerts (31 January 1871), Mdlle Enriquez was brought in to join Helen Lemmens Sherrington, Edith Wynne, Janet Patey and Charles Santley on a bill which, like the Mario ones, had been shorn of its tenor: Sims Reeves was off for the umpteen-hundredth time. She was, already, at 23 years of age, performing in town-hall company. The Era recorded: ‘Mdlle Enriquez was much applauded in ‘She came like a dream’ by Virginia Gabriel and also in ‘Cherry Ripe’. And the following week ‘Miss (sic) Enriquez sang ‘My own true love’ by Molloy and ‘The Storm’ by Hullah, the latter so well as to gain a vociferous encore. Miss Enriquez also sang Horn’s song ‘On the banks of Allan Water’ very nicely’.

Having performed at St James’s Hall on the Wednesday, she returned on the Saturday to be the featured vocalist at the Saturday Pops, and, the following Monday, to fulfil the same post in the Monday pops, before scooting up to Manchester to do the same for Halle’s concerts at the Free Trade Hall, alongside Joachim, and to Keighley for his concert there ,with Mme Norman-Neruda (‘Che faro’, Handel’s ‘Cangio d’aspetto’ ‘both enthusiastically encored’).

Mme Neruda

 Back in London, in March, John Boosey mounted a one-off Boosey Ballad concert at St James’s Hall, plus a benefit for the series’ conductor, J L Hatton, at Exeter Hall. In each, the bill was Sherrington-Wynne-Enriquez-Patey-Reeves-Rigby-Santley, and Lizzie more than held her own. ‘We have rarely heard Miss Enriquez so successful as in Hullah’s charming song ‘The Storm’… ‘She wore a wreath of roses’ was greeted with as much applause as if it had been a new song’ …  Claribel’s ‘Strangers yet’ was ‘greatly applauded’ … ‘The Banks of Allan Water’ ‘proving herself in everything a genuine artiste’…


From now on, Mdlle Enriquez found herself in heavy demand in the concert world. She appeared on Good Friday (5 April), at St James’s Hall, in two concerts (Hatton’s ‘Mercy and forgiveness too’), at the brand new Albert Hall in Michael Costa’s Society of Arts Concerts, sharing the vocal duties with Natalie Carola (Rossi’s ‘Ah! rendimi quell core’, ‘Giorno d’orrore’, ‘Dolce conforto’), at the St George’s Hall for Madame Puzzi’s always fashionable concert (22 May) and the Queen’s Rooms for E H Thorne (26 May), before Boosey announced a fresh one-month series of Summer Ballad Concerts (29 May) featuring the team with which he had finished his previous season. Lizzie gave her ‘Strangers Yet’, Molloy’s ‘My own true love’, Haydn’s Spirit Song, ‘Kathleen Mavourneen’, ‘The Storm’, and Linley’s ‘Constance’, and was voted ‘a most legitimate and accomplished vocalist’.

Edith Wynne

In September 1871, she sang out of town with Charles Santley’s America-bound concert party (Wynne/Patey/Patey/Cummings/Santley), temporarily replacing Janet Patey, and on 11 September joined the little company in Santley’s farewell concert at St James’s Hall. Mrs Patey sang ‘The Storm’, and Lizzie gave Schubert’s ‘The Adieu’ and her Molloy ballad in ‘excellent style’, being ‘greeted in a most flattering manner’. Then, while the concert party crossed the Atlantic, she carried on to Leicester’s Nicholson concerts, to DeJong’s proms at the Manchester Free Trade Hall, on several occasions to Norwich and to places betwixt and beyond, returning to London and St James’s Hall for the Monday pops (27 November, Benedict’s ‘Father whose blessing we entreat’ (St Cecilia), Schubert’s ‘The Question’, ‘Impatience’), the Saturday pops (2 December, Spirit Song, ‘L’Adieu’) and, come the festive season, made her debut with the Sacred Harmonic Society, singing the contralto music in The Messiah (22 December) alongside Lemmens-Sherrington, Vernon Rigby and Myron Whitney. An enormously busy year ended with a trip to Edinburgh for another Messiah (Banks/Enriquez/E Lloyd/W Winn).

Helen Lemmens-Sherrington

1872 would be no less busy. It began with the Boosey Ballad series, which ran from 3 January through to 11 March. At the opening concert, she gave Comyn Vaughan’s (ie Alfred Scott Gatty’s) new song ‘Rest’ and ‘The Old Chimney Corner’ with ‘delightfully sympathetic voice and unpretending style’, and, of the second performance, The Era wrote ‘Miss Enriquez may be sincerely complimented on the decided progress she is making. Her singing of a new song, ‘Sympathy’, by Henriette, was really admirable. The song lends itself readily to an expressive and dramatic style and the encore given was deserved. In ‘Looking back’, Miss Enriquez also sang with genuine taste and expression.’ She joined, as well, in Henry Smart’s trio ‘Queen of the night’ with Blanche Cole and Michael Maybrick. At the third concert, she gave Balfe’s ‘The Green trees whispered’ was ‘greatly applauded in Henriette’s ‘Sympathy’’, which was encored, and sang ‘The meeting of the waters ‘with charming simplicity’; at the fourth Henriette’s ‘Always alone’, ‘The Storm’, Comyn Vaughan’s’ new ‘Spread thy silver wings, O dove’ and the duet ‘As it fell upon a day’ with Blanche Cole; and at the fifth ‘Three Ravens’ ‘Ye Banks and braes’ and ‘Looking back’. ‘Sympathy’ got given several times, and ‘Strangers Yet’ also made a reappearance, and, on the occasion of the Ash Wednesday concert, Lizzie selected the Morning Prayer from Costa’s Eli and joined Edith Wynne, Edward Lloyd and Lewis Thomas in the quartet from Elijah.

In between the ballad concerts, she was also seen at the Albert Hall in oratorio and in concert, appeared with Henry Leslie’s choir (‘Wapping Old Stairs’, ‘Kathleen Mavourneen’ ‘As it fell upon a day’ with Ellen Horne), sang at the Monday pops and also made regular forays into the provinces.


In May, Charles Santley returned from his trip to America, and a concert was mounted at St James’s Hall (21 May) to mark the occasion. Florence Lancia, Edward Lloyd and Lizzie took part, she delivering ‘The Storm’ and Mme Sainton-Dolby’s ‘When we are old and grey’ (‘great success ... simplicity and tenderness’) and taking part in the Rigoletto quartet and the Semiramide trio, and in the autumn  – after Mme Lancia, too, had given her matinee musicale (4 June) -- the four of them set out, accompanied by a little Liverpudlian soprano, Louise Cafferata, and pianist Lindsay Sloper, for a long concert party tour of Britain. Lizzie’s new song for the occasion was George Linley’s ‘Why do I love thee yet?’. The tour finished, of course, in time for the festive oratorios, and the team were featured on 13 December as the soloists in the Sacred Harmonic Society’s St Paul. Lizzie also took part, with the same society, in The Messiah on 20 December alongside Clarice Sinico, W H Cummings and Foli.


Lizzie Enriquez did not take part in the Boosey ballad concert series of 1873 (the Misses Wynne and Banks and Mrs Patey supplying the feminine music), but she nevertheless kept up her heavy workload. During the course of the year she took part in three provincial musical festivals, as well as appearing at Exeter Hall in concert and oratorio, singing in the Rivière promenade concerts and in any number of personal London concerts (C & A LeJeune, Grace and Jose Sherrington, E H Thorne &c).


The first of the festivals was a one-day affair, the Nottingham Festival (6 February), which consisted basically of a performance of Costa’s Naaman given by the local Sacred Harmonic Society at the Mechanics’ HallThe composer conducted, and the ‘personally selected’ soloists were Natalie Carola, Clara Suter, Lizzie, Vernon Rigby and Santley. The second was the more meaningful Hereford Festival, in September, at which Lizzie performed the contralto part of Storge in Jephtha alongside Edith Wynne, Cummings and Santleyshared the contralto music of The Messiah and Elijah with Zélie Trebelli, gave Mendelssohn’s St Paul with Titiens, Montem Smith and Agnesi, and her Faust song, the Spirit Song and another Sainton-Dolby piece, ‘He thinks I do not love him’, in the Festival’s concerts. 

Finally, in October, came the inaugural Bristol Festival, for which Lizzie and Janet Patey were engaged as contraltos. They shared the relevant music in Elijah and The Messiah, Mrs Patey sang Macfarren’s new John the Baptist and Mdlle Enriquez the Rossini Stabat Mater with Melitta Otto Alvsleben, Vernon Rigby and Santley.

Virginia Gabriel

 Back in town, with pace unslackening, she took part with Elena Corani, Charles Tinney and George Perren in the first performance of Virginia Gabriel’s cantata Evangeline (25 November 1873) at Covent Garden, in Rivière’s concerts, sang one more Messiah with the Sacred Harmonic Society (19 December) alongside Lemmens-Sherrington, Rigby and Lewis Thomas, took part, in the new year, in both the Boosey ballad concerts and the Monday pops, visited Edinburgh (February 1874) for the local Orchestral Festival and introduced Edward Land’s new song ‘Thy guardian never sleeps’ at Edwin Ransford’s concert (24 February) .

There then came a pause, a pause for the birth of Florence Eliza Keppel. For one other event which had taken place in the year of 1873 was that Lizzie Henri had got married. Irish-born Percy Keppel (real name James David Keppel, 1844-1900) was a musician, a flautist of a certain degree of accomplishment. But I was quite taken aback when I saw his portrait – a handsome man with a fine set of whiskers – included in a book of entitled Porträts und Biographien hervorragender Flötenvirtuosen, -dilettanten und –komponisten. There was, sadly, no biography of Percy, he is simply labelled ‘Flautist of the Royal Italian Opera’. He was an orchestral flute player, more accurately described, in an 1877 lawsuit, as ‘a flautist of some repute [who] served in the bands of the Royal Italian Opera House and the Royal Philharmonic Society’. He was, at that time, on five pounds a week as first flute in Sir Arthur Sullivan’s orchestra at the ill-fated Royal Aquarium. However, he did work intermittently as a solo player: I spot him in concert at Margate’s Hall by the Sea in 1870, and later he would travel in a concert party with his wife.

Anyway, Percy had been around for a wee while, for the 1871 census (with Lizzie’s parents now both, apparently, dead) shows, at number 10 Hamilton Terrace, St Pancras, Eliza Henri and her sister, Jane, with a ‘boarder’ Percy Keppel aged 26, artist.

Percy Keppel

 Lizzie was back on the boards by September, when she can be seen singing alongside Patti, Sinico and Foli at one of Kuhe’s concerts in Brighton, and in October she joined Florence Lancia on a concert tour with the Messrs Perren and Maybrick as their partners (for most of the time) and Charlotte Tasca as pianist. In Nottingham, they were joined by Santley to sing Elijah. In December, Lizzie teamed with Edith Wynne, Lloyd and Santley at Liverpool for a performance of the Macfarren John the Baptist, which Janet Patey had created at the Bristol Festival.


She appeared in the new year on several occasions in Liverpool, in the Monday pops and in sacred music, and she visited Manchester for Rivière’s proms there, while back in London she made a number of appearances at the Alexandra Palace both in concert (‘When all was young’, ‘The Storm’ ‘the applause following this latter being only what this excellent artiste merited’) and oratorio. On 5 June she performed the Stabat Mater with Lemmens-Sherrington, Rigby and Foli and, on 6 November, the ‘first performance of Handel’s Esther since 1757’. Mme Nouver, Rigby and J L Wadmore were the other soloists, and the reviewer wrote ‘Miss Enriquez sang the contralto solos admirably; in fact this lady always does the amplest justice to sacred music, which she sings with the expression and devotional character which should properly belong to it’. On 10 May, she sang the contralto part in Beethoven’s Choral Symphony with the Philharmonic Society, alongside Blanche Cole, Henry Guy and Wadmore, and at the end of the year returned to the Sacred Harmonic Society for the Mozart Requiem (26 November with Jessie Jones, Lloyd and Wadmore) and for The Messiah (10 December), sharing the contralto music with Julia Elton. On the concert front, she seemed to stick largely to her proven numbers, from ‘Cangio d’aspetto’ to ‘The Storm’ and Henriette’s ‘Sympathy’ and ‘Always alone’, but on St Andrew’s Night’s Scotch concert at St James’s Hall, she made a particular hit with … Reichardt’s ‘Dream of Home’.

Blanche Cole

 In the years that followed, Lizzie Enriquez fulfilled pretty much the same round of engagements: a mixture of sacred music and ballad concerts, leavened with a little operatic material of, mostly, the more classic kind. In 1876, she took part in the Balfe Memorial concerts at the Alexandra Palace, appearing in a selection from his Il Talismano with Nilsson, Marie Roze and Edward Lloyd, delivering her regular ‘Green trees whispered’ and joining Nilsson and Roze in the trio from the composer’s Falstaff; in the Hereford Festival (12-15 September), she shared the Elijah contralto music with Trebelli (‘The duet Zion spreadeth her hands’ has rarely been better sung than by Madam Wynne and Miss Enriquez’) and performed The Last Judgment  with Wynne, Cummings and Lewis Thomas. She sang in the Stabat Mater at the Albert Hall (19 October) and in The Messiah with the Sacred Harmonic Society (22 December) and this last drew her an encomium from the paper Public Opinion: ‘A special feature was the singing of Mdme Enriquez, to whom the contralto music was entrusted. This young and conscientious artist’s deep voice of bell-like purity, her clear enunciation and perfect execution, combined to make this performance, so far as her part was concerned, one of the finest that has been given of late years in this hall where so many vocalists have won their triumphs’.

Luise Liebhart

 In 1877, she returned once more to the Boosey Ballad concerts (‘She wore a wreath of roses’ &c), to Rivière’s proms and the Crystal Palace, and took part in the Albert Hall oratorios and in Luise Liebhart’s concerts at the Agricultural Hall, while in 1878 she spent a large part of the year on her own concert tour, with Percy Keppel playing flute solos, and with a bagful of ballads old and new, including, most popularly, Roeckel’s ‘Angus MacDonald’, Ignace Gibsone’s ‘Her Voice’ and Mme Sainton Dolby’s ‘The Life that might have been’. She returned to town in May to take over, in emergency, from a disabled Anna Williams in the Sacred Harmonic Society’s new version of Mose in Egitto and she also sang what seems to have become an annual Christmas Messiah (20 December, B Cole, Rigby, L Thomas) with the same Society. In 1879, the same pattern was followed. A mixture of concert and oratorio (Last Judgment, 12th Mass), including a share with Mrs Patey in the contralto parts at the Hereford Festival (Elijah, Messiah, Purcell’s Te Deum,), an autumn of provincial concerts (Smart’s ‘The Lady of the Lea’, Roeckel’s ‘Won by a Rose’ &c) topped by December-tide oratorios at the Sacred Harmonic Society (Messiah) and the Albert Hall (Stabat Mater).

 In 1880, however, there were a few variations to the routine. Firstly, Lizzie got herself a new agent. Mr Percy Keppel of 221 Regent Street, corner of Maddox Street. Percy announced Vernon Rigby and Barton McGuckin and the violinist, Carrodus among his other clients, and he also subsequently announced Keppel & Co, music publishers. The music publishing business seems to have lasted into 1882, the agency rather less. During its existence, Keppel & Co published a number of Lizzie’s new songs: Cotsford Dick’s ‘The Gates of Paradise’, Pinsuti’s ‘Heaven and Earth’, the duet ‘In Sunny Spain’ by Harriet Maitland Young, Blumenthal’s ‘Our Ships at Sea’, Lohr’s ‘It cannot be’ and ‘I would not wear a golden crown’ by one Ethelreda Marwood. There was no Festival engagement this year, and the Christmas Messiah was at the Alexandra Palace. Mary Cummings sang the Sacred Harmonic Society one, but Lizzie would be back the following year. This year she sang The Last Judgement with them. In the autumn she went a-concerting in the provinces with Helen Lemmens-Sherrington (Roeckel’s ‘Won by a rose’, Sainton-Dolby’s ‘Somebody Knows’, Milton Wellings’s ‘Some Day’ &c).

 In the 1880s, Mdlle (now more often Mme) Enriquez was seen out each season in prestigious circumstances. I’ve spotted her at the Philharmonic Society (24 February 1881, ‘Cangio d’aspetto’), with the Sacred Harmonic Society in Moses In Egypt (20 May 1881) and The Messiah (23 December 1881), in six consecutive annual series of the Covent Garden promenade concerts between 1882-1887 (‘Voi che sapete’, ‘Quando a te lieta’ Roeckel’s ‘Lord Mayor Whittington’, ‘Angus Macdonald’, ‘The Minstrel Boy’, ‘Rose softly blooming’, The Lady of the Lea’, ‘Heaven and Earth’, ‘She wore a wreath of roses’, Paul Rodney’s ‘Alone on the Raft’, Tosti’s ‘For ever and ever’, ‘Cherry Ripe’, ‘Robin Adair’ ‘Inflammatus’ (Stabat Mater)), as well as at two further Hereford Festivals (1885, 1888) and the corresponding Worcester Festival of 1884, doing her usual duties in Elijah and The Messiah plus Samson, Spohr’s ‘Vater unser’ or Cherubini’s Mass.

In 1882, she sang the Good Friday Messiah at the Albert Hall, in 1883 she appeared at the same venue in a Burns Night concert which, for some reason, included the Garden Scene from Faust, and in 1884 performed Athalie and The Resurrection with Mr Willing’s Choir and The Messiah with the Royal Society of Musicians. However, at forty, she was now singing in public rather less often than she had at twenty, even if, apparently, with undiminished powers.

I spot her doing a Messiah at Covent Garden in 1891 alongside Fanny Moody, Charles Manners and Edward Lloyd, and regularly at the annual Post Office Orphans concerts of the 1890s, as well as in the Royal Society of Musicians 150th anniversary concert at the Queen’s Hall of 11 November 1898, alongside such representatives of a newer generation in Clara Samuell, Esther Palliser and Giulia Ravolgi. My last sighting of her as a public performer is in 1908, at a concert given by Roberto Biletta at Stafford House, some forty years on from those days as ‘Lizzie Henri’ of the music-halls, in concert with Mackney, and the Mario tour.


Like Janet Patey, to whom she was in her time perhaps the nearest, and certainly one of the nearest, competitors among the ranks of British contraltos, Lizzie Enriquez was a concert singer pure and simple. She never appeared on the dramatic stage and rarely was it that she brought out an operatic piece such as the ‘Si la stanchezza’, which she had performed with Mario in her earliest days. Her successes came almost entirely in the world of sacred music and of the English ballad, in both of which areas she accomplished a career second, of her contemporaries, only to that of Madame Patey.


Percy Keppel died in 1900, and Lizzie lived out her days in a succession of London suburbs (in 1901 she is in the heart of it at 51 Upper Gloucester Place) as a ‘teacher of music’ with her daughter Florence. She died at the age of 77, at 20 Ilchester Mansions, Kensington, and her will revealed that she had lived out her days in relative comfort. Her probate came to over five thousand pounds.

Florence, given still as ‘of 20 Ilchester Mansions, Abingdon Rd, Kensington W8’, died unmarried on 24 April 1936.


Amongst the other songs credited as ‘sung by Mdlle Enriquez’ are included ‘The Blind Boy’ (S Clarke), ‘The Infant’s Burial’ (Lord Lytton), ‘On a faded violet’ (E H Thorne), ‘Gather ye rosebuds’ (Raymond Yorke), ‘At her wheel’ (Lady Lindsay), ‘Turn where I may my tearful eyes’ (Taylor), and several songs by Alfred Plumpton. Though this undated Australian one looks a little odd ... a different Madame, I feel ...