Saturday, July 6, 2019

The story of an Investigative Theatrical Carpet

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The theatrical 'puzzles' are starting to pile up on my desktop. So maybe it's time for me to have a crack and one or two. I've been 'in France' all weekend, translating a big bundle of 200 year-old French poetry, so why not start with my French folder ...

A splendid little group of 1860s performers fell into my net last week, and I was well on the way to winkling out the odd identity when 1830s poetry intervened ... so here's what I have uncovered, and what still remains to be uncovered ...

The key photo in the bundle was this one


Yes, well, it's a wizard. So we are immediately plunged into the glorious world of the classic French féerie spectaculars. Plenty of candidates, but one outstanding one. Rothomago. Rothomago, produced at the Cirque in 1862, and transferred to the Châtelet ... The titular Rothomago is a wizard ...
The rôle was created by the actor Lebel, and although it was later played by others, this is he. How do I know that? Because Lebel had the goodness to sign a copy to a friend, and that copy has survived to this day.

Now, pictures of the original Rothomago production can be found, but you've got to be wary. There is  a splendid set of Nadar photos in the French National Library. But they are from the 1877 revival. In which Lebel's role was played by the decidedly more rolypoly Tissier.

But. I'm pretty sure that a couple of my other 'catches' are from the same production.





Why? LOOK AT THAT CARPET! It is surely the same photo session. In fact numbers two and four are pretty surely the same lass. Are they ALL the same lass? Surely not, the legs on number three are much less healthy...

But which lass?



Well, the 'principal boy' was 'Mademoiselle Milla' (née Laure Dordet, d 1900), replacing the Cirque's Judith Ferreyra, who would later return to her role, but who was soon to be prey to the rotting disease that would put an end to her career the following year and, ultimately, kill her, just after her thirtieth year.




The bad fairy was the actress known as Adèle Désiree .. perhaps a relation of the Madame Désirée Fieux of the Cirque cast -- well, it's not she, is it ..


The ingénue was my favourite Ernestine Esclozas. She played a peasant girl, so it's hardly she. But what's this ...?  SAME CARPET! I must check the ins and outs of the plot!



But what is this other name, billed large alongside Mlle Milla. 'Maria Bellamy'? To play the Princess. The daughter of Le Fée Rageuse? Originally played by Caroly Geoffroy. Well, I just happen to have a photo labelled 'Bellamy'. It's from the Châtelet's later production, Marengo.


Yes? Could be. But the lady in my photos doesn't look very Princesse-ly, does she? This would be more what I'd expect


Maria Bellamy ('très jolie, très fine, très mignonne') came to the Châtelet from the Gaîté and the Folies-Dramatiques and became a favourite soubrette on the new stage. After Rothomago, she appeared in La Prise de Pékin, as Mary the maid in Le Secret de Miss Aurore, and as the drummer boy in Marengo before her death, still in her twenties 'from a cold bath' in August 1863.



There were plenty of other lassies in the cast, of course. Mlles Caroline and Anna and Mme Lacran in small parts, and then the ladies of the ballet who represented the hours of the Magic Clock which was central to the show's story. Mlles Victorine (l'heure du coucher), Clémence (l'heure de la prière), Lagrange (l'heure de minuit), Esther (l'heure du dîner), Elisa Bellamy (L'heure du bal), Agnès (l'heure de la liberté), Jenny Pazza (l'heure du travail), Caroline (l'heure du lever), Hélène (l'heure du déjeuner), Maria (l'heure du jeu), Bonnet (l'heure du plaisir), Octavie (l'Heure du berger), Gabrielle, Robert,  ...  and for the Lace Ballet, mlles Henecart, Elisa Piron, Letourneur, Octavie Berger and Anna Buisseret, later Mlles Badernac, Laurençon, Petit ...   These were not all just dispensable chorines. I have before me a cast list for the Châtelet's 1866 end-of-year revue and, alongside Mlles Milla and Esclozas, the names of Elisa Bellamy and Mlle Esther still appear in the lists. Elisa apparently stayed at the theatre for ten years, according to Lyonnet ... who unfortunately equates her with Maria! Esther, well, she rather looks as she would have been worth a ten-year contract! Dinnertime, indeed!


Is that the famous carpet again?

Death was unkind to another star member of the cast of Rothomago, as well. Colbrun, the little comic actor who appeared in the principal male role of Blaisinet died, before the age of forty, in 1866.



So, it seems as if we have here photos of the cast of the musical féerie spectacular which opened the Théâtre du Châtelet in 1862 ...

Or some of them. I'm still not sure about the one with the less healthy legs. And I suppose I'd better go looking for that carpet ...


ARGH! THE CARPET ....! 




For the sake of reference, the original Cirque cast of Rothomago was, in its principal cast, identical to that at the Châtelet, with the exception of the replacement of Judith Ferreyra (apparently a little lost in the large auditorium) and that of Mme Geoffroy by Maria Bellamy (previously Béllami). However, a number of the supporting ladies were seemingly recast. Voici the names of the original featured dancers from the Hours and the Lace Ballet:
Madame Coustou (Spanish lace), Mlles Anais Letourneur (English lace), Anna Buisseret (Dutch lace), Pety (Malines lace), Adèle Ferrus (Venetian lace), Guerboroglio (Parisian lace), Lagrange (l'heure de minuit), Jeanne Pazza (l'heure de travail), Mlle Clémence (l'heure de prière), Mlles Kelly (l'heure de l'ennui), Ricard (l'heure de la liberté), Maria (l'heure du jeu), Bonnet (l'heure du plaisir), Thérèse (l'heure du bal), Octavie (l'heure du berger), Caroline (l'heure du lever), Esther (l'heure du dîner), plus Mlles Chatenay, Marzetti, Juliette, Hélène, Wall, Robert, Lhéman etc.

Anais Letourneur as English Lace, dances her 'gigue anglaise'
The other supporting ladies were Mlle Marguerite, Désirée Fieux, Jenny Kid and Mlle Moreau. Plus sixty corps de ballet...
At the moment, most of these are just names to me, although the paper L'Orchestre describes some of the dancers. But I am looking.
Ah! Jenny Kid 'the Queen of the Théâtre Féerique' an open-air entertainment in the Champs Elysées ..
And here is the cast of Les Sept Châteux du diable at the Châtelet in 1864 - Elisa Bellamy, Lagrange, Ferrus, Letourneur, Buisseret, Berger, Genty all still there and featured .. behind the great Esclozas and Lise Tautin ...

Ah! Anna Buisseret. Her sister, also a dancer at the Châtelet, was involved in a nasty affair of anonymous letters in 1874, then mixed with the law again in 1876 when one ex-lover killed another in a duel. She was described in court as 'une très vulgaire pècheresse dont le corps de ballet d'un thèâtre des féeries utilisait très récemment les mérites choréographiques'. How nasty! She had been, for more than a decade, a 'bien gentille' slightly featured dancer at the Châtelet and the Gaîté! And sister Anna was, by this time, no less than star dancer at the Gaîté. Anyway, in the course of proceedings the sister admitted to 35 years of age and christian name of Adrienne. So, presumably she was the lady who danced as 'Mademoiselle Adrienne'. And I doubt that Buisseret was their real name anyhow: the choreographer who, around this time, worked as 'Buisseret' was actually Etienne Morlet. Anna was to remain a star dancer for a goodly number of years. Adrienne vanished, allegedly, to 'marry an English Lord'.


Adèle Ferrus, 'la grande coquette', who had been a baby ballerina alongside Anna Buisseret at the Brussels Théâtre de la Monnaie in the 1850s, was the wife of 'Valentin' (de Waerghenare), sometime sous-chef d'orchestre at the Châtelet. He died at the age of 35 in 1874. She seems to have had a sister too. Ferrus I and Ferrus II played Pride and Envy in the Chatelet's Les Sept Châteaux du diable in 1864.

Mlle Letourneur, 'la soubrette du Châtelet', 'admirablement sculptée dans ses petits proportions ... à la fois chaste et provocante', who seems to have been a superior dancer, went on to, amongst other, be première danseuse in the Châtelet's Le Naufrage de la Méduse (1864), Les Filbustiers de la Sonore (1864, with Buisseret, Vernet and Ferrus), in the Théâtre Déjazet's Cendrillon (1866) burlesque,  La Poudre de Perlinpinpin (1869), later delivering a snake-dance at the Alcazar (1869), and continuing on into the 1870s when she turns up at the Folies-Bèrgere (1870) and in 1876 in America, dancing for the Kiralfys in Around the World in 80 Days. If she is the same 'Mlle Letourneur' who was dancing already at the Porte Saint-Martin in 1852, and a coryphée at the Opéra 1853-4  ... but, there, 'Letourneur' is a predestined name for a dancer, and there were, over the years, several! But wait! 1874 'Mlle Letourneur la coqueluche des titis, l'ange du paradis' quitte le Châtelet ...'. The 'darling of the Gods' ... it seems that it is indeed the same one. Anais Letourneur ...

Madame Coustou is another who seems to have had a long active life: in 1853 she danced in Le Consulat et l'Empire, alongside Lebel, at the Ancien Cirque, where two years later she can be seen in Les Pilules du diable; in 1875, she is principal dancer at the Théâtre Historique.


Back to carpet hunting ...


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The sad, short tale of Mr Bugler of Christchurch ...

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Back in the Victorian era, before the days of the Internet and Facebook, before the international telephone, before Kodaks and happy snaps, the only way for folk making a life in the colonies, far from the 'Old Country', to keep in touch was by very-snail-mail; the only way to let the family see how you and yours were getting on, was by means of the carte de visite, those little photographs than now, a century and more on, flood ebay. Sadly, in many cases, these little historical pictures are  unidentified. But in other cases, they have at least a clue penned on the verso of the card ... and it has become a hobby of mine to try to restore their 'identity' to some of the more interesting-looking subjects. And thus, I've been able to restore the Christchurch grave of Miss Lucy Harriet Saxon from Matlock Baths, and yesterday revive the history of Arthur Appleby of Burton-on-Trent, who sleeps his last long sleep in Linwood Cemetery, Canterbury, NZ.

It was while I was looking over Mr Appleby, that I chanced on this New-Zealandish couple. Mr W U Bugler and his wife Maria, photographed in Oamaru 14 March 1875. He doesn't look like a ball of fire, does he? Well, time to find out ...




Identification was easy. Not many folk have a 'U' for their middle initial! William Udal Bugler was born in Dorset around 1836, and christened in Mosterton 13 June of that year. His father, David (1797-1872), was a sackmaker, his mother was Elizabeth (1800-1858) née Udal (m 23 November 1822), and we can see in the 1841 census that they had four daughters and three sons. If father was into bags, however, the Udal family were long-established ironmongers, and it was into that profession that the three boys would go, with varying degrees of success, and fourth daughter Mary Honor would marry (Mrs James Helliar).

Eldest brother, John Udal Bugler was the successful one. He had a fine ironmongery business in Ashford, Kent, a fine house with, I see, three servants, became a husband, a father, a JP and an alderman ...



Third brother, George Udal Bugler, was working as a assistant in the trade when he died, while still in his twenties (d 16 April 1866).

And then there was William. In 1851, he is already an ironmonger's apprentice in Melcombe Regis. In 1862 (17 June), he married shoebinder Maria Steed, daughter of Benjamin Steed of Rumboldswyke, carpenter, and shortly after, the couple left for the colonies. It was later said in court that William was brought out to Christchurch by the established 'Birmingham and Sheffield' ware ironmonger, Edward Reece, who pretty smartly sacked him ...


He got work elsewhere, got on the commitee at the Presbyterian church, went bankrupt in 1870, and finally left Christchurch to try his luck in Oamaru, from where he sent home these pictures. Six months later (9 September 1875), he was dead. Aged 39. Maria seems to have married one Richard Dale -- perhaps the licensee of the Musselburgh Hotel -- in 1878. If so, she died in 1886.

I wonder to whom, in England, the little pictures were sent. George was dead, Mary and her husband and son had emigrated to Australia ... John was there, in Ashurst, ; eldest sister Fanny (Mrs William Helliar, d 1 December 1899) was at the Manor House in Donyatt, Somerset, where her husband and his 20 employees farmed 400 acres, second sister Elizabeth (d June 1900) was living with third sister Jane (Mrs Richard Cornick d 3 December 1897) back in Allington, where Mr Cornick had also risen to the rank of JP ... they all done quite nicely. William was undoubtedly the runt of the litter ...

Poor William.

Post scriptum: And look! Here is the Helliar family in Australia. Lots of them and ... I'm not getting into them!

Mrs Helliar (Martha née Bond) (1822-1909), 'youngest daughter of the late Mr John Bond of Combe Fiorey, Somerset
William Bond Helliar (1860-1907) 'of The Willows, Natte Yallock'
John Jeffery Helliar (1825-1908)
Emma Helliar (Mrs Robert Long) (1864-1941)

Yes: 11 November 1858 Mary Esther daughter of William Helliar, late of South Pemberton, Somerset, married Edward Swanton late of  Clapton Somerset ...
John Jeffery eldest son of said William, and father of Mrs Robert Long, William Bond Helliar and Mrs Job Mills (where is HER photo) died 2 August 1908 ...


Arthur Appleby: or, a Christchurch coincidence

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This is Mr Arthur Appleby of Burton-on-Trent, Staffs and Christchurch, New Zealand. He appeared at the very top of my ebay page the other day and I couldn't help but notice that the vendor had labelled him as an 'opera singer'. With that beard? And a New Zealand opera singer? For the photo was taken in Dunedin, and it is dated on the back to 1882.


I think I know that era of music fairly intimately, but ... Arthur Appleby? I know George Appleby of the Soldene company, and T J Appleby,  singing comedian, and there was indeed an Arthur Appleby who sang in British and colonial musical  comedy touring companies around the turn of the century ...


Well, in summary, it turned out that that Arthur was actually this Arthur's son. But neither of the two of the vocal gents was what you would call an 'opera' singer. Father, certainly, never appeared on the professional stage in his life. Which doesn't make him any the less interesting, especially to me. Why, especially to me? Well, here is his life story as decidedly accurately recounted in a local obituary:


And the link with myself? The (second, non-German) Christchurch Liedertafel gave its first concert in 1885 (11 June), and Mr Appleby, who had, for over a decade, been a regular solo tenor in local amateur choral concerts, was indeed one of the few singers featured as a choir soloist on that occasion. 

Eighty years later, a teenaged bass from Christchurch's University was appointed choir soloist with the same group. It was I. I still have the badge of office ... a little silver lyre ... I saw it just the other day, in the drawer of my bedroom washstand ... I should give it to the group.

The obituarist left out the fact that Mr Appleby was also many years a chorister at Christchurch Cathedral, and Arthur junior (b 15 July 1870; d Sydney 1928) one of the first intake of choirboys. Arthur had four sons by his first wife, Amelia Cotton Thompson (d 1 May 1879) and one more by his second wife, Alice Mary Bartlett (d 15 June 1941) -- Arthur, Leonard (b 1872; d Melbourne 10 June 1951), Godfrey (b 23 January 1874; d Hastings 1951), Hubert (b 21 May 1877; d Dannevirke 26 January 1917) and Raymond (b 18 August 1881; d Waimate 1954).


Ah me, another tomb in need of repairs. You would think, with all those sons and grand children, there would be one descendant who would care ...  Maybe, the Liedertafel (yes, it still survives and sings) would like to honour their founder member by a little restoration work.



Post scriptum: Well, apparently nobody cares. I have at least purchased the photograph, and will find it a home in one of the ungrateful archives of New Zealand. I'm still waiting for the cemetery to respond to my inquiries ...



Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Ladies of the Bouffes-Parisiens: 1855-1860.

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It’s the two-hundredth birthday of composer Jacques Offenbach this week, and, all round the globe, lovers of his wonderfully sparkling music have been marking the occasion with productions of his stage works, large and small. The event has also provided those whose world is the written page, rather than the performing stage, with the opportunity to wade into print with lucubrations, equally large and small. I’ve seen only a few of these, and I think that the stage productions (which, alas, have not reached New Zealand) have probably got it all over them. Well, they ought to have. You can listen to Ba-ta-clan or Orphée aux enfers or their confrères a hundred times, and never tire of them. But after the first really well-researched and knowledgeable books and articles on the musician and his works had been published, well, what more was there to say and write? As a result, the same material has, largely, been repeated or copied, over and over again. Errors sometimes included! Of course, this is the twenty-first century, where footnotes are considered more important that facts; the heyday of ‘theorising’ rather than fact-finding … but I’m ‘of an earlier age’, I like my first-hand facts, so, when the theses are flying, I keep my head down. And, thus, I haven’t clambered on to the Offenbach bandwagon of 2019. What could I say, that Jean-Claude Yon, for example, couldn’t say better?



My contribution to the bicentenary took the form of sponsoring a grave marker, in the wilds of Sydney, Australia, for the unmarked tomb of Johnny Wallace, one of the most important of nineteenth-century British directors and players of opéra-bouffe.



But these things have a way of catching up with you. I got asked for the use of some of my research work on the great performers of the Offenbachiade, which led to my penning a wee piece on its unduly neglected star lady, Lise Tautin, who, in the popular memory, has languished far too long in the shadow cast by her colourful successor, Hortense Schneider. Which led me to further diggings into the personnel of the earliest days of Mons Offenbach’s career as a producer, at the Bouffes-Parisiens.




There is nothing much left to say about the great comic players of the first years of the Bouffes company ... Desiré, Berthelier, Léonce, Pradeau … but the surprising thing is the comparative lack of interest that has been shown in the much smaller, but equally important, group of ladies of the troupe. So I thought I’d devote a few lines to them, the feminine creators of the early opérettes (1855-1860) of the Bouffes-Parisiens.


Scenes from Le Violoneux, Une Songe d'une nuit d'été, Une nuit blanche and Les deux aveugles
Here are the ‘cast members’ in order of appearance:

[Victoire Elisa] Marguerite Macé (b Paris 24 March ?1836; d Paris 28 November 1898)
Hortense [Catherine] Schneider (b Bordeaux 30 April 1833; d Paris 5 May 1920)
Marie [Denise Victoire] Dalmont (b Paris 10 July 1831; d Brussels 1 December 1878)
Mlle Nevers
[Adèle] Claire Courtois (b Saint-Quentin 12 September 1831)
Emma Hesmez
[Marie] Aurélie Mareschal (b Paris 29 December 1837; d Marseille January 1862)
Marie Garnier
Juliette Desirée Byard (b Paris 16 November 1839; d Passy 3 March 1866)
Louise Abigdon [Louise Charlotte Abigdon Legaigneur]
Coraly Geoffroy [née Guffroy]
Lise Tautin [Louise Emilie Victorine Vaissière] (b Yvetot, 31 January 1834; d Bologna, 12 May 1874).
[Marie] Pierrette [Amélie] Chabert (b Paris 7 November 1833
Marie Cico [Alexandrine Louise Hortense Trotté] (b Paris 4 July 1841; d 4 Passage Masséna, Neuilly 9 September 1875)
Victoire Zélie Felicité Engalbert (Mme Penot, b Paris 2 November 1836
Lucille [Emilie] Tostée (b Paris 19 December 1837; d Pau May 1875)

Lina Kunzé
To which may be added such temporary players as Madame Baudoin, Lina Kunzé, Marie Berger and one Mlle Trillet. And from which, pretty well, may be subtracted the unfortunate Mlle Nevers and Emma Hesmez and the disappointing Mdlles Byard (Premier prix of the Conservatoire) and Abigdon, and even the Juno of Orphée, Mlle Engalbert. Which leaves us with ten ladies.

The original little team at the Bouffes (5 July 1855) featured only one vocalist/actress, as well as three danseuses who performed with Mons Derudder in the pantomimes, a type of item which was abandoned in the second year. The numbers of feminine performers would, however, grow, as the legal restrictions on the size and nature of the pieces played gradually permitted: 4 March 1856, Le Thé de Polichinelle featured no less than thee ladies in its tiny cast, by the time of Six Demoiselles à marier (12 November 1856), some extra demoiselles had to be called in, alongside the regulars, to make up the titular number, and 19 November 1857 saw the production of the innovative Les Petits Prodiges with its cast of twelve, featuring almost all the regular ladies of the troupe. And less than year later, it was time for Orphée aux enfers, with its innumerable cast of gods and goddesses, as the original Bouffes programmation headed towards a very different shape and style of production, where full-length pieces took over from the original spectacles- coupés.



So, who were the girls who created this vast opus of short opérettes, some bouffe, some rural, some occasional, none serious, a splendid number of which have remained, to this day, in the playable repertoire. Well, here goes.

Marguerite Macé. Of all the girls of the early Bouffes troupe, Mlle Macé, or Madame Macé-Montrouge as she became after her marriage to actor Louis Hesnard dit Montrouge, had easily the longest career as an actress at the top level. If she did not have the blazing moments in the starlight that several of her colleagues did, she was still creating important roles in the musical theatre forty years on from her debut. That debut seemingly took place at the Gymnase in 1850. Mlle Macé’s early life seems to have been rather irregular. ‘She was brought up by her grandmother in Batignolles … went to the Conservatoire aged 10 …’. Well, whenever she was born, and under what conditions, we catch up with her in April 1850 (surely not aged 13!) playing Francinette in La Volière at the Gymnase. Ill with nerves, she forgot her lines … but, by her second role, Laure in Les Pupilles de Dame Charlotte she was praised: ‘impossible d’avoir plus d’esprit, de gentillesse et de vivacité’. ‘A beginner aged 16 …’. Yes, well that is the ‘born 1836’ bit blown apart! And ‘pupil of Nicolo Martyns’ don’t sound much like the Conservatoire. In 1853, she moved to the Vaudeville, in 1854, I spot her at the Théâtre de Montmartre, and then she is engaged by Mons Offenbach …
She played in the prologue and the three-handed Une nuit blanche on opening night, and went on to create more than a dozen further pieces at the Bouffes: Une rêve d’une nuit d’été, Une pleine eau, Le Violoneux, Le Duel de Benjamin, Elodie, Le Thé de Polichinelle, Les Pantins de Violette, and, after some months off, Six Demoiselles à marier, Après l’orage, Dr Miracle (x2), Le Roi boit, Rompons!, Les Petits Prodiges, Mamzelle Jeanne, La Charmeuse, La Chatte metamorphose en femme. She also played in other repertoire pieces such as Tromb-al-ca-zar, La Bonne d’enfant in Paris and on tour, notably in a visit to London. Her three years at the Bouffes climaxed when she took over the role of L’Opinion Publique in Orphée aux enfers during rehearsals, as it turned from a male role to a female one.


Les petits prodiges
Her time done at the Bouffes, Mlle Macé moved on to start what would be the body of her career, much of it in tandem with her husband or under his management, and all of which has been written up in mostly correct detail (give or take those iffy origins) in many a French magazine. In 1886, avowedly 50, she created the classic musical comedy mother as Madame Jacob in the hilarious Joséphine vendue par ses soeurs, in 1890 another komische Alte as the Senora in Miss Helyett …
If you can only have one woman in your theatre troupe, you need a quadruple threat, and Mlle Macé seems to have been an excellent choice!

However, Mons Offenbach, manager had expansive ideas, and before the year was out he had hired three more ladies, of vastly different backgrounds, and vastly different futures, to play at his theatre.

The first to appear was Miss Hortense Schneider, girlfriend of his star comedian Berthelier. I’m not going to get into the Schneider tales, of which there are many and varied. I will just say that she made a charming effect when she played Mlle Macé’s roles in Une pleine eau, Le Violoneux, Elodie and Les Pantins de Violette and created parts in Le Thé de Polichinelle and, most effectively, in Tromb-al-ca-zar, a role which was later taken by Macé, and Le Rose de Saint-Flour. Mlle Schneider’s time would come later. For now, she was an accessory to Marguerite, and to the new star signing of the Bouffes troupe.

Hortense Schneider


Marie Dalmont, daughter of a respected Parisian musician and teacher, now based in Metz, had benefitted from a sound musical education. I note her singing Haydn in concert, ‘aged 14’, in Metz in 1847, before she headed  for Paris, the Conservatoire, and, in 1855, first prizes for both singing and opéra-comique. Mons Offenbach beat the Salle Favart in the action for her services (‘au poids de l’or’) and composed the little (Paimpol etPerinette for her debut (5 November)She did not disappoint. She was voted totally delicious, and it seems from contemporary reports that she was, of all our ten ladies, perhaps the most uncomplicatedly successful as a vocalist.



The following month, she created the role of Fe-an-nich-ton in Ba-ta-clan to delighted reviews and great success, then followed up, over the three years that followed, in Le Postillon en gage, Le Thé de Polichenelle, as the prima donna in the Offenbachian rearrangement of L’Impresario, as Violette in Les Pantins de Violette, in the shortlived Le Guetteur de nuit, Le Financier et le Savetier, M’sieu Landry, Les Trois baisers du diable, succeeded to the lead roles in Le Rose de Saint Flour, Croquefer and Le Violoneux, created L’Opéra aux fenêtres, Le Troisième Larron, Le Mariage aux lanternes, Bruschino, the flop Maître Baton …and then things changed. When Orphée aux enfers was produced, Lise Tautin was cast in the prima donna role. Marie Dalmont performed Msieu Landry and de Rillé’s Frasquita as the forepiece.

Marie Dalmont in Le Financier et le savetier
But more than that had changed. Some months earlier, Marie had married the Belgian baritone Pierre-Joseph de Mesmaecker, and, in 1859, she quit the Bouffes and headed, the following year, to New Orleans as leading lady of a French opera troupe. She played Isabelle in Robert le diable, Berthe in Le Prophète, Catarina in Les Diamants de la Couronne, Henrietta in Martha, Marie in La Fille du regiment, Leonora in Il Trovatore … to a grand reception, then headed home to sing more of the same in Marseille, alongside the splendid Mme Montenegro, and then around the world. Now ‘Mme de Mesmaecker’, I see her doing seasons in Montpelier (1862-3), Lyon (1863), Toulouse and Angers (1864) and Antwerp (Faust, Ernani, Rigoletto, Roland à Roncevaux)before she and her husband joined impresario Emile Lemoigne for a long engagement in Batavia. On their return, she appeared at Rouen (1867), the Brussels Cirque (1868), Montbéliard, before taking a full about-turn, and renouncing opera to return to Paris to appear in a series of one-act opérettes. Between 1871-3, I spot her at the Tivoli (Le coq de Boétie, Les Turcos en Indocochinchine), the Folies-Bergère (Les Oreilles d’âne) and the Folies-Marigny (Le coq de Béotie, Quand nous serons à dix), before she disappears from view. She died a few years later, before her husband had reached the outstanding peak of his career, and before the long career of their son, Georges, at the Opéra-Comique.

Joseph Mesmaecker in La Fille du Tambour-Major

Whether ‘Mlle Nevers’, whoever she may have been, was another managerial punt, as Schneider had been, I cannot tell. Maybe she was only ever intended to be a back-up/takeover/small part player. That was all she achieved. The comédie aux ariettes, Dans un volcan, programmed for the theatre’s re-opening, with another new piece, and announced for her debut, seems to have only been played once, while the other piece on the bill, Ba-ta-clan, triumphed. She took a small part in the occasional piece, Les Dragées de la baptême, played some performances of Elodie and Le Postillon en gage, and went her way, leaving no trace. 
As for Mlle Hesmez, she seems to have arrived a few months later, from Metz (do I see the hand of Papa Dalmont?). She was given every chance. Puffed in the press, she made her first appearance in the proven Pépito, then as Venus in Vénus au moulin d’Ampiphiros, after which she was given roles in Les Dragées de la baptême and Le Guetteur de nuit. Three flops. So Pépito was brought out again. The pretty girl, with the little voice then disappeared from theatrical annals.
The nearest thing to success during this intake period was Claire Courtois. Like Marie Dalmont, she had been a pupil at Conservatoire, from where she had graduated with a second accessit. She began at the Bouffes playing Simonette in Venant de Pontoise, before being allotted the second soprano role, behind Dalmont, in L’Impresario. She subsequently succeeded Macé and Schneider as the heroine of Le Violoneux, introduced the role of Marinette in Marinette et Gros-René and that of Eleanore in L’Orgue de Barbarie. She proved well-enough liked but she was going nowhere. She ultimately became a member of the Paris Opéra chorus.

Aurélie Mareschal
Another to-be-core member of the troupe had, already, made her arrival at the theatre. Aurélie Mareschal (sic) was another secondary Conservatoire prize-winner from the crop of ’55, but she proved to have the right temperament for the Bouffes, and went on to make a splendid mini-career with Offenbach. Given her chance in the brief Dragées de la baptême and confirmed when taking over the part of Pierrot in Les Pantins de Violette, she was given the creation of the part of Grittly in Le 66. Its success led to her being allotted the premieres of Hassenhut’s Le Cuvier, then M’sieu Landry with Dalmont, before she introduced another memorable role as Fleur-de-Soufre in Croquefer. The British press, writing of the new little theatre quoth ‘Dalmont and Mareschal are the favourite lady artists’. Britain was soon to find out: the pair led the Bouffes company to London, for a season at the St James’s Theatre, where Aurélie played Croquefer, Pépito, Le 66, Le Savetier et le Financier, Les Pantins de Violette, L’Orgue de Barbarie to delighted audiences through two summer months. Back in Paris, she joined Dalmont and new-girl Lise Tautin to create Mariage aux lanternes, featured in Les Petits Prodiges and the Haitian opérette Simonne, played Vent du soir, and introduced Delibes’s L’Omelette à la Follembuche. She had no role in Orphée aux enfers, and when the piece ran on and on, the authors decided to write in the part of Amphitrite for her. They did not make the same error twice: in 1859, when Genevieve de Brabant was launched it was Aurélie who was Geneviève. When she moved on, it was to the Théatre Déjazet (Cicalda in Double deux), and soon after to Marseille … where, so the Conservatoire records say, baldly, that she died in January 1862. And no one seems to have noticed.


Aurélie Mareschal
And that is the short life and career of Aurélie Mareschal. We don’t really get to know her. But today I stumbled on an article in a French paper of 1934, discussing Zola’s novel of Nana. It appears that, ever since its publication, it has been the subject of discussions both of its theatrical inaccuracies and of the identities of actresses from whose lives the author took the events of his book. And, lo! One of the candidates in Mlle Mareschal! I think she is put up only to be knocked down (in favour of the usual candidate, Blanche d’Antigny), but still … I wonder of what she died, at 25 years of age, far from Paris …

Marie Garnier
Next up, came Marie Garnier. Petite, fashionably plump and pretty Mlle Garnier’s name has survived as being ‘the Vénus of Orphée aux enfers’, ‘l’étoile rousse’, which I can only imagine means she did nothing more memorable that that, were it not that she was, in 1866, one of Alexandre Dumas’s long lines of conquests. ‘Three nights in Hyères’ someone commented. However, the lass obviously could act and sing a bit, for she had begun her career singing at the Théâtre Lyrique, in such roles as Gertrude in Le Maître de Chappelle, Marie in Mam’zelle Geneviève, Jeanne in Le Chapeau du roi, Marguerite in Le Roi d’Yvetot, Marotte in Le Bijou perdue, Brigitte in Le Colin-Maillard, Eva in Jaguarita l’Indienne, Donna Carmen in Le Muletier de Tolède, Mina in Le Habit de Noce et al, between 1853 and 1856. She then moved to the Bouffes, where she made her first appearance in a new Offenbach opérette La bonne d’enfant.‘Jolie blondinette, à la mine éveillée; elle chante avec gout et sa voix a du charme’ nodded the press, as Mlle Garnier went on to play in Six demoiselles à marier, Après l’orage, Vent du soir, Les petits prodiges, and then created the Vénus of Orphée. And then …? Did she just stop? Did she prefer the life of a demi-mondaine to that of a singer? Surely she is not the same Marie Garnier who turns up as a singing teacher in 1880s Paris …? Was her name, even, really Marie Garnier? Oh, well, this time we have a picture --loads of pictures, she was much photographed -- but no facts.



The prize-winning Juliette Byard (Mme Chollet) was, for some reason, a failure. After some appearances at the Theâtre de Montmartre and at Batignolles, she played at the Bouffes in Six Demoiselles and took over in L’Orgue de Barbarie, but seems to have been ‘of the reserve’ only. She was tried at the Opéra-Comique after her Bouffes time (Pascal’s Cabaret des Amours), but died while still in her twenties.

Mlle Abigdon
Mlle Abigdon, daughter of a provincial performer was tried in parts in Les Trois baisers du diable and Le roi boit. No one complained, but she was soon gone.

Louise Abigdon


But firepower was lurking. The company, with Marie Dalmont and Aurélie Mareschal at its head quit Paris for London. And, in their absence, new girls stepped in to take their places. The ‘new Dalmont’ would be Lise Tautin, the ‘new Mareschal’, a little lass named Coraly Guffroy (sic), who was admitting to fifteen years of age.

I have told the tale of Lise Tautin, who would become the Queen of the Bouffes, and epitomise the 1850s world of opéra-bouffe, already, but Coraly … just a word or ten on Coraly, because Coraly, too, would become a star. 

Coralie Geoffroy
Coraly Guffoy, later Mme Geoffroy. Yes, wife of the actor of the Bouffes and a lot of other places. Christian names hidden (from me) because they married in Berlin (1858). Anyway, whencever she came, she can be seen at the Salle de la Fraternité in 1851, ‘aged 7’ giving ‘Le Petit Chaperon Rouge’ and ‘La Lisette de Béranger’, at the Jardin Paganini, the Chapelle St-Denis … The internet throws up a letter written by the lass in 1853 ‘aged 11’. And there she is at the Bordeaux Variétés, ‘la petite Coraly Guffroy’, playing multiples roles in Le Vieux garçon and starring in L’Orpheline du Château with songs ‘Le Fils à Jerome’, ‘Une caprice de Jeanneton’, ‘La Légende du grand étang’And here she is in Metz and Valence, in 1855: ‘cette charmante enfant qui chant comme une première chanteuse’. And in Belgium, 1856, ‘cantatrice de 14 ans’. So, maybe. 



Anyway, she came to the Bouffes in 1857, and made her debut there in a pretty little novelty entitled Dragonette which proved a decidedly charming, if not very ‘bouffe’, addition to the programme, following up in Pauline Thys’s La Pomme de Turquie. When the main company proved a hit in its London season, Coraly was called over to give her two little pieces. Back in Paris, she played in La Momie de Rosoco, Au Clair de la lune, Les Petits prodiges, La Charmeuse and joined the company’s next trip, to Krolls Theater, Berlin, joining Mlles Chabert and Tautin in the company’s repertoire and getting wed. When Orphée was produced, she was cast as Cupid, when Le Roi boit was revived, she played it... She joined Tautin in introducing the successful Un Mari à la porte before she moved on. She moved to the Opéra-Comique (Fauconnier’s La Pagode, Rendez-vous Bourgeois, Don Gregorio, Jeannette in Le Deserteur, Le Roman d’Elvire) and then to the Châtelet and the Cirque, where she starred as Fanfreluche in La Poule aux oeufs d’or, the Princess Miranda in Rothomago and Claudine in La Prise de Pekin.  But she then abandoned the spectaculars and headed for Strasbourg, followed by a visit to Baden-Baden for the season. There, while Geoffroy appeared as Juliano in Le Postillon, she triumphed in La serva padrona and created the part of Ursule in Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict (9 August 1862). They also appeared together (he, mute!) in Schwab’s Les Amours de Sylvio and Le Domino noir.
The ‘adult’ part of Coraly’s career, which stretched over some three decades, took her far and wide. I see her in Ghent (1864-5, La Chatte merveilleuse, Mireille), Marseille (Le Châlet) on tour with tenor de Quercy (1866), at Lyon with Berthelier (1868, La Belle Hélène) and is that she singing Mignonin Geneva? Or playing La Grande-Duchesse and La Rose de Saint-Flour at Algiers? In 1869-70, she is at Lille (Petit Faust, Le Châlet, Tutti in maschera, La Belle Hélène) and Bruges (La Grande-Duchesse), in 1871, she sang Barbe-Bleue at Brussels, and in 1872 created the role of Heloise in Litolff’s Héloise et Abélard in Paris. 1874 sees her at Cairo, 1875 sees her leading Carlo Chizzola’s opéra-bouffe company in America, 1876-7 she is at the Folies-Dramatiques, reaping superb reviews for her Marguerite in Le Petit Faust, and creating La Foire St-Laurent (Malaga), in 1878 she replaced Peschard as Eurydice in a revival of Orphée aux enfers, and was first lady at Nantes. 1880 it was Brussels, 1882 Athens, 1882-3 Boulogne … 
I’m sure she went on, she was after all, only fortyish. But I lose her. And her husband (who must not be confused with the well-known comedian of the Gymnase). But little, plump, exuberant Coraly had already accomplished a huge career.

Although these last two excellent artists had come from the theatre of experience, Offenbach – in hope, I imagine, of another Dalmont -- still culled new singers from the Conservatoire prize-lists. Dalmont had been the top winner in 1855, in 1857 it was Pierrette Chabert. I wonder if he had tried for the 1856 laureate. She was by name Céline de la Pommeraye, and the Opéra got her. Later, she became ‘Rose Bell’ and an international star of the opéra-bouffe. However, Mlle Chabert (whom the Internet and the BNF insist on calling ‘Marguerite’ .. that was Chapuy) was definitely an acquisition. 
After her studies, and a successful appearance in the Paris concerts, she joined the company at the dawn of 1858, and played in Mam’zelle Jeanne, the little heroine, Ciboulette, of Mesdames de la Halle and Corilla in Bruschino, before voyaging with the troupe to Berlin for the summer. When Orphée aux enfers was cast, later that year, she was given the featured role of Diana. She introduced L’Île d’amour, Le Fauteuil de mon oncle, Le Polka des sabots, the role of Eglantine in Geneviève de Brabant, Hignard’s Nouveau Pourcegnac, played in Le Carnaval des revues, teamed with Marie Cico as the two naughty nymphs of Daphnis et Chloë, created Le Sou de Lise, the central role of Laurette in La Chanson de Fortunio, played Atala in a revived Vent du soir and the title-role of La Servante à Nicolas. And then, in 1861, she moved on. But she moved on and up. Over the next decade she would become recognised as one of the best provincial ‘dugazon’s in France, as she travelled with her repertoire of operas-comiques and opérettes from one city to another (and usually back again), hired over and over, and ever successful.
Le Havre and Versailles seem to have been her first engagements. In 1863, I see her singing Siebel in Faust and Nancy in Martha at the former and La Dame blanche, Les Mousqueatires de la reine, Les Daiamants de la couronne, Le Caid, Pré-aux-clercs, fra Daivolo, Les Noces de Jeannette and even Adalgisa in Norma at the latter. She returned regularly to Versailles right up to 1870. She visited Troyes (Le Songe d’une nuit d’été), before being hired as dugazon at Angers, where she won vast applause for her Eurydice, then Boulogne, before making a trip to sing French opéra-comique at Barcelona (‘très gracieuse et chante très bien’) with a certain M Vincent. Returning to France, the pair took an engagement at Nancy, where Mlle Chabert appeared in all sorts, from La Veuve Grapin and Les Pantins de Violette of the Bouffes repertoire, to Georgette in Les Dragons de Villars to Inès in L’Africaine. Poitiers, a long stint back at Versailles, where amongst others, she played Haydée, Adalgisa, Pippo in Gazza Ladra, and the role that would become her ‘best’: Ambroise Thomas’s Mignon whom, the press acclaimed, she transformed from a whingeing creature into an interesting character. She made a return to Le Havre, I see her at Brest (1870), Amiens (Barbe-bleue, Le Petit Faust, Mariage aux lanternes, Mignon, Les Cent vierges), Caen, and at Toulon (1873-4) where she made a triumph as Lange in La Fille de Madame Angot (‘Mlle Chabert chante et dit à la perfection le role de Mlle Lange’) and played the saucy Müller in La timbale d’argent as well as Jemmy in Guillaume Tell and Flora in La Traviata … in support of the company’s contralto! 
And then, to all appearances, she stopped. Marriage? Death? Neither were reported. A ‘Mlle Chabert’ turns up in the Variétés revue in 1881 … so, alas, once more, no personal story to go with the professional one. And no button. Bother.

Although Mlle Chabert’s departure from the Bouffes was mourned by press and public, Offenbach’s theatre already had two new girls in its lists who were to make altogether more of splash in the world than she. 


Lucile Tostée
Lucille Tostée was one. And I can really only reprint here a version of my piece on her from my Encyclopaedia of the Musical Theatre. 
‘Although Lucile Tostée was to make the most famous part of her career in America, she began her life on the stage in France, becoming one of Offenbach's principal interpreters at the Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens at a young age. Amongst her assignments at the Bouffes, she played Scipionne in Les Vivandières de la grande armée, the title-role in Flotow’s La Veuve Grapin  (1859), Le Polka des Sabots, Forteboule, Le Nouveau Pourcegnac, Delibes’ Belle Étoile,  Croquignole XXXVI, Le Carvanal des Revues, Le Petit Cousin, Titus et Bérénice, L’Étoile in Le Roman comique (1861) and the original version of the page, Amoroso, in his Le Pont des soupirs (1861). She donned skirts to play Béatrix in the Parisian version of Les Bavards (1863) but went back into travesty in the rôle of Fabricio in Il Signor Fagotto (1864). She also appeared with the Bouffes company at Vienna's Theater am Franz-Josefs-Kai in 1861 (Croute-au-pot in Mesdames de la Halle, Fanchette in Une nuit blanche, Pierrette in La Rose de Saint-Flour, Atala in Vent du soir) and in 1862 (Dorothée in La Bonne d'enfants etc). Following the advent of Zulma Bouffar into his life and theatre, Tostée apparently found less favour in Offenbach's eyes, but her career did not by any means go downwards as a result.
In 1867 Lucile Tostée headed a troupe exported from Paris under the management of H L Bateman to play French opéra-bouffe at New York's Théâtre Français. On 24 September she opened in America as Offenbach's Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein and she took the town by storm, launching at the same time the craze for opéra-bouffe which was to sweep the country over the following years. One critic rhapsodised “The new opéra-bouffe’s a brilliant success, the music most sparkling, allow us to state, man, and while they’ve Miss Tostée to play ‘La Duchesse’, there’s no grounds for fearing the crowds will a-Bate-man’.
She appeared throughout the United States in that season and the next in a variety of such pieces including La Belle HélèneLischen et Fritzchen, as Eurydice in Orphée aux enfers, and in her original rôle from Les Bavards, sharing the top billing in later days with Mlle Irma, who had been starring in an opposition production of Barbe-bleue and who amalgamated her forces with Bateman's in order to reinforce a company which was, by that time, being challenged for opéra-bouffe supremacy by an oustanding team brought out by Jacob Grau and headed by Rose Bell, Marie Desclauzas and Gabel.
Equipped with some fairly dubious advertising -- Tostée's Eurydice was described as `her original rôle played by her 300 nights in Paris' -- the pair continued, increasing their repertoire with such pieces as Monsieur Choufleuri (with Tostée in the vocally demanding rôle of Ernestine), Le Mariage aux lanternesLa Chanson de Fortunio (Valentin) and Maillart's Les Dragons de Villars. When Tostée left America after less than two years, the flood that she and La Grande-Duchessehad begun continued in the hands of such other French artists as Irma, Marie Aimée, Léa Silly, Céline Montaland, Marie Desclauzas, Coralie Geoffroy, Louise Théo and Paola-Marié, as well as their English-language followers. And Tostée herself? She went home, and, there, apparently, just vanished from theatrical annals. And after 1875 from all annals'.

Another vanishing one. But our last lady did not vanish. Not in that way. Marie Cico, like her successful older sister (?), Pauline, is said to have chosen the high life, the diamonds and the demi-monde as a pendant to her life on the stage. And, like Blanche d’Antigny, and countless others, she died of it, at a young age. Which was, decidedly, a waste. For Mlle Trotté, who chose, for reasons unknown, the unattractive name ‘Cico’ for the stage, was a fine performer. Well, Lyonnet says ‘beware of mixing up the two Mlles Cico’ and then, promptly, does just that. So do many others. I have tried to unmix them. The Mlle Cico at the Théâtre Montansier and the Jardin d’Hiver in 1851, and thereafter displaying her charms most liberally at Le Havre and the Vaudeville, at the start of a career as a beauty and actress (and sometimes dancer and singer too) at the Palais- Royal is Pauline.

Pauline ... covered up!
Marie, apparently with a stage mother behind her, was singing duets at the Casino du Marché au Poulet in Brussels, with a certain Zulma Boufflar, at the age of eleven, and dancing in a Parisian café-concert soon after. She came to the Bouffes in 1858, where she was cast as one of the ‘marchandes’, behind Tautin and Chabert, in Mesdames de la Halle. Later raconteurs would say that she had been a ‘coryphée’ at the Bouffes, but that is wrong. Her second role was with Tautin and Dalmont in a reprise of Mariage aux lanternes, when M’sieu Landry was staged she was Suzanne to the Madame Parfait of Dalmont, she was Minerva in Orphée aux enfers, took her turn at Le Violoneux, created leading roles in Le Major Schlagmann, Forteboule, Belle Étoile, Croquignole XXXVI, Le Carnaval des Revues and C’était moi, and the dual role of La Hire/Clé de sol in Geneviève de Brabant. At the same time, she entered the Conservatoire where she studied under Révial and Mocker, and began singing in regular concerts
Marie Cico
In August 1861, having left the Bouffes, she graduated with the premier prix, and she was subsequently engaged for the Opéra-Comique. She would remain there for a decade – beginning in Le Domino noir, Les Mousquetaires de la reine, La Dame Blanche, -- ‘rayonnante de beauté et de talent’ – creating the title-role in David’s Lalla Roukh and Hermine in his Saphir, Figarina in La Fiancée du roi de Garbe, Berthe in Le Voyage en Chine, Sylvie in Gounod’s La Colombe, Madame de Grandval’s little La Pénitante, Edwige in Offenbach’s Robinson Crusoe, Mimi in his Vert-Vert, and succeeding Marie Cabel as Philine to the Mignon of Galli-Marié and as Hélène in Le Premier Jour de Bonheur, amid repeated items of the established repertoire. In 1872, she was not re-engaged at the Salle Favart, and – with her health showing signs of deterioration – she returned to opéra-bouffe, as Eurydice in the Gaîté revival of Orphée. But her final illness was upon her, and, at age 34, she died. She left a ‘fatherless’ son, many regrets … and a mystery or two.

Marie Cico
So, there they are, the ladies of the original Bouffes troupe. The singing ladies, that is. For the original dancing ladies – Clara and Rosa Price, and Mlle Mariquita – were also well- chosen. The Price girls hailed from Denmark, and were members of the large dancing and acrobatic dynasty fathered by a British pantomimist who had made name and fame there, and whose family troupes had toured Europe with notable success. As for Mlle Mariquita (born in Algiers, date and surname unconfirmed, but it seems to have been 'Mariquet'; d 1922), she was to have a long and prominent career as a star dancer, at the Porte Saint-Martin, the Folies-Bergère and the Opéra, at Madrid, Barcelona and with Espinosa at London’s Princess’s Theatre, and later as one of Paris’s favourite choreographers in opera, opéra-comique, opérette and spectaculars, of which the Opéra-Comique ballet of ‘baigneuses devêtues’ in Le Mariage de Télémaque was a favourite. She has been the subject of a number of learned dissertations, so I need to dissert no more.

Mariquita allegedly aged 8 
Now, I really must get back to translating Petrus Borel. These ladies took me down all sorts of interesting side paths ...