Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Musical Theatre book of the decade.

I sha’n’t gush. Well, I’ll try not to. But …

I thought that it was unlikely, in this day and age, that a new book dealing with the 19th and/or 20th century musical theatre could surprise and enthuse me. I mean, it’s all been said and done, hasn’t it? Chuckle, much of it by me.

The last time I was really grabbed by musical-theatre book, a book that really taught me something interesting and novel and wasn’t just a re-hash of told stories and opinions, was when I read John Koegel’s American Music in German Immigrant Theatre. Yes, that was 2009. It was sent to me for review by Kevin Clarke of the Operetta Research web site and it consisted largely of a biography of Adolf Phillipp, the half-forgotten ‘inventor of the American musical comedy’ (Americans don’t admit this!). Well, this week Kevin got in touch again (nine years on) with another book for me to review, and I was having a quiet, dawn-sunny (6.45am) breakfast on my Australian seaside terrace, when bang! 500 pages (plus illustrations) landed on my desktop. Aw, gee. Tomorrow?

But I peeped in, and I was lost. It’s now 5.42pm. Eleven hours (with comfort stops). I’ve just read the entire book, cover to cover. So I shall pour a lime and gin, and tell you all about it.

The book is a biography of André Messager. Yeah. Him. Composer of ‘Trot here, trot there’? And some. And a heck of a lot of ‘some’. It is written by French author, Christophe Mirambeau, who has previously expended his talents on books about Luis Mariano, Barbra Streisand and Albert Willemetz. This one is way, way up in another league, even, than the Willemetz. Gold. Pure gold.

Messager is (I know now!) a wonderful subject for a biography. He begins with a success in the world of 1880s opérette, remakes himself – while carrying on a parallel career as a conductor and administrator – in the early 20 century with ‘gentille opérette’ and, all over again, after the war, with some dazzling musical comedies. He starts on a high, ends on a high … and even if there is the occasional bloop (and paramour) in between, well, everyone has them, and that makes for an interesting story, too.

And that’s what this book is: an enthralling story, set in a period and place in the world’s musical theatre which has largely missed proper coverage and investigation up to now. The tale of our man is peopled by such colleagues and friends as Fauré, Saint-Saëns, Massenet, Pierné, d’Indy (to drop but a few musical names) not to mention, latterly, the great Willemetz and Christiné, as we follow him through forty years of Parisian (mostly) musical history, with all its in-fighting, jiggery-pokery, cabals and ‘immorality’ …

Now, I know this era pretty well. I’ve splashed around in this Parisian music and theatre milieu for many, many years. And I’ve written quite a lot about some of its characters. But nothing like this!

This is a seminal and will-be-standard book. It will be – it must be – translated into German, Japanese and English (it’s written in French) – it is a classic biography and also a picture of an opérettic era that (as far as I know) has not ever been thoroughly covered anywhere else. And with some great pictures!

'Trot here, trot there ..'
I promised I wouldn’t gush, so here are my thoughts on modern (theatrical) biography. 

Les p'tites Michu

My opinion. At the two ends of the biographer scale, it seems, we have two ‘styles’. Firstly, what I call the academic thesis. ‘Well, I didn’t know much about him/her at the start, but I researched (other people’s often incorrect books?) and I got my degree and the University press published it!. This works fine, sometimes: see Mr Koegel. Mostly, it doesn’t, and I don’t like it. The authors don’t know the milieu, names of supporting characters in the Life are chucked about mindlessly, it’s a biography without a background. But with COPIOUS footnotes … argggghhhhh! (‘It’s not my fault if it’s wrong, someone else said it first’, ‘primary sources … what are they?’).

On my own very first book (2 volumes), my editor said to me: ‘if it’s not worth putting in the text, leave it out, if it is of interest, put it in the text body.’. I have mostly followed his wise words for forty years. Footnotes are a whacker’s way out.

At the other end of the scale, there is the 'non-academic'. The person who has just immersed themselves thoroughly and long in the time and period on which they are writing. This person KNOWS who all those subsidiary folk are, and can hopefully tell us, if it is relevant, in a phrase. Such people know the flavor of the era, its feeling, as well as more facts than need to be crammed into a book … Enough, you can tell from which side I am coming!

Anyway, all this to say that Mons Mirambeau has pretty well achieved the impossible here. He has encompassed both ends of the scale.

One wee quibble – I know it’s the French way, but -- I would have cut the footnotes in this book very, very largely. We don’t need biographical data of well-known folk detailed in footnotes. This is not a reference book. If you feel you absolutely must quote sources, do it in the text. Because all those footnotes (on one page there are two lines of text – shades of Louis Schneider! -- and all the rest is bloody footnotes) break up your great story, and murder the flow of your deliciously engaging writing …

I just skipped them.

Mons Christophe Mirambeau, sir, thanks for a grand day. Great read! Great adventure! Great book.

What next? With fewer French footnotes please!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Aida: from chorus girl to leading lady

Aida Jenoure was around in the (mostly) British theatre for nearly half a century. Only her youthfulmost days were spent singing under the management of Mr D’Oyly Carte, but she toured to America and to Europe with his companies for three years and, later, probably her biggest success of all came in a piece – The Mountebanks – written by Mr W S Gilbert. Thus she has made it to George’s want list, and has tardily awakened my inquisitiveness.

Aida Jenoure. Originally, I am sure, pronounced ‘Ada’: she didn’t start putting an umlaut on her ‘i’ until Mr Verdi’s opera came out. Jenoure? Not a common name. Should be easy to find. Well, that was a waste of an hour! The name apparently belongs somewhere in her family (it was her half-brother’s middle name) but … oh, dear, that family. Yes, I’m, going to tell you all about it.

In 1860, a notice appeared in the British press announcing the marriage (8 November 1860) at the Paris British Embassy of Maurice Louis Gerrard only son of James Lund Gerrard Esq late of Lamberhurst in the county of Kent, but now of Nice, to Sidney Augusta, eldest daughter of Joseph Gutteridge Stevenson Esq of Oxford Terrace, Hyde Park. Sounds straightforward? Wasn’t. Later, when it was time for dirty linen, the courts were told that Mr Gerrard and his bride had ‘run away from (her) school to Paris’ to get married. They ran so fast, that Sidney’s mum and dad were there to witness the event and sign the French certificate for their 19 year-old daughter’s marriage. So, why the fuss? Well, I think I may have the answer. Three years earlier, a Mr Maurice Louis Gerrard, son of James, had wed a Miss Rose Elizabeth Jane Harding at Kingston. Maybe there were two MLGs. Maybe not. Miss Harding doesn’t appear anywhere I can suss after her wedding, perhaps she died. But Maurice put ‘bachelor’ on his Parisian wedding certificate. Odd.

Now, Mr Gerrard had been a leisured lad all his 30-odd years, but now he got a job. With the mounted police in India. So the newly-wed couple headed for the east. But Mrs Gerrard didn’t flourish in India, and so she (and, some of time, he) returned to England, and there on 13 November 1863 was born, in her father’s absence, Adelaide Marion GERRARD. Yes, it’s Aida.

Now, for the past some years, the Gerrards’ friend and neighbour, lawyer Oscar Ullithorne (sic) ‘of Staples inn, Holborn’ had kept a kindly eye on Mrs Gerrard in loco husband. And the predictable happened. When Mr Gerrard found out, he was mighty wrath. He put his returning wife straight back on the P&O to England and sued for divorce. The Gerrards were divorced in 1866, and in 1867 Sidney (d 1920) and Oscar were married. And, in the course of time, a half-sister and two half-brothers arrived to share the Belgravia home of the Ullithornes.

Mr Ullithorne, Aida’s stepfather, is a whole other story. Charles More Ullithorne, broker, of Red Lion Square, was bankrupted in 1835 and died in 1840, leaving his wife Jane with three sons and a daughter. Sons Frederick and Alfred disappeared off to Australia, to people that sunny land with Ullithornes, their sister Louisa married Edward Witherington Joseph Temple, broker, and died in 1865, but Oscar … Oscar took to the law, and made much money. He also spent much money, on a rich and colourful lifestyle from his home in Eaton Square. So much, indeed, that when he died at 38 South Eaton Place 30 June 1889 his personal estate was declared as just 23L. Lawyer’s calculation, or verge of destitution? 

By 1889, however, Aida was a working girl. In 1883, she had enrolled at the London Academy of Music – I see ‘Miss Ullithorne’ in concert 20 April at St George’s Hall (‘Si tu m’aimais’) – in 1884 at the Victoria Coffee Hall, in 1885 playing in The Sleeping Queen, and taking a gold medal for voice and a bronze for elocution. I see her out in public at Emil Mahr’s concert (16 March 1885), Nellie and Kate Chaplin’s (June) et al, as she transformed into ‘Aida Jenoure’. And took a job …

David Stone takes up the tale: ‘….[she played] in the chorus with D'Oyly Carte's First American Mikado Company in New York City in August 1885.  She then toured Germany and Austria in the chorus of The Mikado with Carte's Continental Company from June 1886 until January 1887. In February 1887 she gave two performances at the Savoy as Zorah in Ruddigore.  She then went to New York as Zorah with Carte's American Ruddygore Company. The run lasted two months.  In May 1887 she was back at the Savoy, replacing Josephine Findlay as Zorah for the remainder of the run there, and in August filled in briefly for Geraldine Ulmar as Rose Maybud.  In November 1887 she joined the ‘Continentals’ again, playing Lady Ella in Patience and Peep-Bo in The Mikado for audiences in Germany and Austria.  She returned to the British Isles in February 1888 and toured with Mr. D'Oyly Carte's C (Repertory) Company until June 1888, appearing as Ella, Peep-Bo, and Amanda in The Carp, a one-act Frank Desprez & Alfred Cellier ‘whimsicality’ that played on the bill with H.M.S. Pinafore’.

In 1888 she appeared as Penelope to the Ulysses of Lydia Thompson for a week at New York’s Star Theatre in Solomon and Stephens’s burlesque Penelope, and later played in The Pearl of Pekin and Robin Hood in an unsuccessful attempt by H J Leslie and J C Duff to stage a Blanchard pantomime, Babes in the Wood, in America.

Back in Britain she appeared in a curious Shakespeare in Maidenhead, and then moved to the Lyric Theatre to create the plum role of Nita in The Mountebanks opposite John ChildShe won a decided personal success, especially with her 'Put a Penny in the Slot' routine, and was referred to in the press as ‘the toast of the town’. She segued into the Lyric’s next production, Incognita, as Josefa, the soubrette, to the disastrous Micaela of another thin, high, American soprano from the Marchesi manufactuary. 

After shredding the prima donna, the reviewer continued on to Aida: ’It would be difficult to say too much in praise of the sprightly performance of this young lady. All her actions in her maddest moments are marked by refinement and she is excellent as singer and dancer alike. It is certainly not too much to say that no Josefa could possibly do more for the opera…’. Miss Sedohr Rhodes (who LET her..?) was replaced by Florence Darley, then Nellie Stewart and then … Aida: ‘For this character an actress in emphatically needed and the sprightly young artist to whom it is now entrusted amply fulfils every requirement. The comedy of the plot is now for the first time realised and Miss Jenoure also deals successfully with the music’. 
Incognita had a good run, and was then replaced by Albeniz’s The Magic Opal, again with Aida delightedly featured. However, at the time, she was more featured in the gossip columns, as a ‘number’ with the journo Justin Huntly McCarthy. But it was all right, he wed Cissie Loftus instead. Actress mad.

Next up, she went to the Court Theatre to play farce, as Madame Champignol in an English adaptation of the hit Champignon malgré lui, before moving to George Edwardes to replace Lottie Venne as the central Lady Virginia Forrest in The Gaiety Girl. She played the role in London and on the road and then returned to the Prince of Wales as Lady Dorcas Chetwynd in Arthur Roberts’s Claude Duval season. Roberts’s next piece was the hugely successful Gentleman Joeand his leading ladies were Kitty Loftus (soubrette), Kate Cutler (juve) and Aida Jenoure as Mrs Ralli Carr, the now (since A Gaiety Girl) highly fashionable ‘young widow’ type.  She repeated the dose in Monte Carloat the Avenue Theatre, went touring with Roberts and introduced with him, in another role of the same ilk, the part of Lady Catherine Wheeler in his next big hit Dandy Dan, the Lifeguardsman 

And she appears next as Lady Garnet in the Drury Lane drama The Great Ruby on the road ..

The young D’Oyly Carte chorister had become, if not quite a ‘star’, a popular leading lady on the London and British stage. Why did I not include her in my Encyclopaedia of the Musical Theatre? I should have.

Anyway, I shall stop at 1900, when she’s appearing at the Palace with Thompson’s Elephants. But she didn’t. In 1927, I see her playing in You Never Can Tell with Charles Macdona’s company.

Oh, Aida did marry. In 1904 she toured with Charles Frohman’s Billy’s Little Love Affair. Amongst the cast, playing her toyboy husband, was a minor actor named ‘Howard Williams’. She wed Mr William Sutherland Howard Cochran (born 1873) on 30 July 1904. I see him living in Little Kimble in 1935, and when he died there, 5 May 1937, Aida was named executor of his modest estate. Were they still together?

She herself shows up in the 20s and 30s at various addresses in London and Cheltenham, in 1939 she is a widow in a residential hotel in Eastbourne . She seems to have died in Cheltenham in 1958. Seventy years on from those Cartesian chorus girl days. 

Monday, May 28, 2018

Exposition Savant de Crablo Kickasso 29 Mai 2018

Last year, Paul Hankinson discovered a huge exhibition by that great, unsung exponent of Australian 'Ephemeral Art' -- Crablo Kickasso -- right here on my canvassy beach at Yamba. 

I have been down today to look at his latest exhibition (and have a paddle in the riptide). 

First I came upon his 'Feux d'artifice sur la plage' (Yamba, 29 May 2018)

and then what is surely his politico-topical masterpiece. Bent Brexit (29 May 2018).

Wow! He says it all in a bunch of excreta. The misshapen mainland of the United Kingdom, with its southern regions bloated and the north exiguous, the whole bent in half and about to break; Ireland to the left with just a little of its substance dribbling off the south coast; the Orkneys and the Shetlands, loosed from the North and heading for France or maybe a rendez-vous with the Faroes...

And has he taken to Nostradamus-like utterances? The British main rail line, going from ?Edinburgh to ?Norwich? The new capitals of Caledonia and Markleland? Oh, Crablo!

I tried to get the artist to answer some questions, and be photographed, but he scuttled shyly away under the surrounds of the sea pool. 'I'm ephemeral' he whispered as he went. And I'm sure I heard, from behind the rocks 'like nations, alliances and politicians'.

The tide is coming in. All that art, all that wisdom, will be swept away. I saw it. I will remember Crablo and his message. And tomorrow he will start all over again ...

Crablo, really? Does it have to be Norwich? Leicester maybe ...

Moses supposes ... H M Imano stripped bare ...

In the forty years or so that I’ve been wandering in the nineteenth-century musical and theatrical world, the name ‘H M Imano’ has popped up intermittently, all over the place. But never very prominently, and so I never took time out to investigate this man who sounded as if he were pretending to be the King of the Japanese. His Majesty the Imano. The Mikado. The Marquis Imari. But he did keep popping up. And, today, he popped one more time … He turned up in a list of folk that my friend and fellow scholar George had sent in response to my call for suggested subjects for investigation and bloggery. So, I thought, your Mikado-ish Majesty, your day has come.

It is, of course, a stage name. And it is not oriental, it is supposed to be Italian. Signor Imano. ‘Signor Imano, the great American basso’. Every word a lie. He wasn’t a Signor, he wasn’t an Imano, he wasn’t American, he was a baritone, and, alas, ‘great’ was a great exaggeration.

‘Henry Morris Imano’ was born 28 March 1853: a Cornish Jew from Spitalfields, the son of John or Jacob Hyman from Falmouth and his wife Frances née Phillips, and his birth name was, after his grandfather, plain Moses Hyman. Looking through the censi, one can see that Jacob was a sort of security man at the London docks (‘dock constable’, ‘dockgate keeper’), and eventually (1881) a synagogue attendant, and that by 1871, Moses was listed as a clerk.

However, in 1872, 19 year-old Moses quit the family home, and took a steerage passage, seemingly alone, on the good ship Egypt to America. He arrived 18 April and settled in Brooklyn, where it rather seems that he worked as a shoemaker. But he also took part in amateur concerts and dramatics. I see him first in December 1874 and April 1875 singing at concerts organised by the Lafayette Council OUAM, then in 1876 acting at Smith’s Lyceum with the amateur Centennial Dramatic Society. In 1877 (12 April) he appeared at New York’s Irving Hall with the, amateur again, Mozart Musical Union. In 1878, I spot him at Summerfield M E Church (‘Mr H M Hyman will sing ‘Nancy Lee’) with a reciter and two sisters duetting – presumably on piano – Beethoven 5.

Around this same time, Mose became a church singer. I see him at Dr Cuyler’s Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church and at Dr Armitage’s Church on 46thStreet and Fifth Avenue, as the bass member of the professional quartets then hired in fashionable places of ‘worship’. I also see him joining a bowling club … so perhaps he is not the Henry Hyman, born England c 1852, shoemaker of Eldridge Street who married Bertha Joel and shows up in the 1880 census. Or is he?

The next three years are, sadly, a bit of a blank. A decade later ‘Henry’ would give an interview to the colonial press in which he related having appeared with John Duff’s companies. The Standard Theatre included. You’ll have to check your Norton for that. Microsoft has zapped all my Broadway files for that era, and Norton, like Odell and the Gänzls are too hefty to take en voyage. You might find, too, when he became ‘Signor Imano’.

I can just supply a little notice in the American trade press saying, in July 1885 that the Signor is leaving the Washington summer season company and going back to Britain. I wonder why, after 13 years. But he went.

He got some engagements. He was hired to sing at the International Inventions Exhibition concert, alongside a bunch of folk of whom I recognise the names only of Eleanor Farnol and Llew (sic) Cadwaladr, then at the so-called Albert Palace in Battersea Park with ‘Benjamin White, the new tenor’ (who?) and a future star in Annie Marriott. He appeared at Northampton’s Monday concerts (‘The Monk’, ‘The Fisherman’) and at Liverpool in one of the many concerts he shared with the pianist J Bond Andrews and the cellist Pozniaski. In March he went to sing with the Dublin Glee Choir … which is where the byline ‘great American basso’ crept in.

In 1886, he was sparsely seen – his own concert was given in a Sassoon home in Belgrave Square, and top-billed Ben Davies and the sad soprano Gertrude Griswold, plus Bond Andrews and Pozniaski – until he was hired for the Empire Theatre. The Empire had flopped under Claude Marius and had been rescued by the venue’s caterer. Somebody decided to relaunch it with a cut-down version of Le Postillon de Longjumeau and H M Imano was cast as Bijou to the Postillon of Henry Walsham. The whole thing was a disaster, and Mose’s London theatre debut didn’t last many nights.

Thank you, Allister Hardiman!

Mose (or shall we call him ‘Henry’) sang at the Crystal Palace and the Covent Garden proms where the other bass-baritones were Frederic King and W H Brereton (‘has an excellent voice undoubtedly but it is in the rough and his style lacks finish’) and shortly after won an engagement with Mr D’Oyly Carte. Over the next year, he played Pooh Bah in The Mikado and the Colonel in Patience in Britain and on the Continent. 

Back in Britain, his only appearances seem to have been in variety and at clubs and smoking concerts, until in June 1888 he took and engagement with Johnnie Sheridan to go to the Orient. Apparently,  the company played four months in Shanghai, with a repertoire of 27 pieces and much success, but alas I have no details. From China, Sheridan continued to Australia (Count Meraggio in Fun on the Bristol&c) where his basso was picked up by the Williamson, Garner and Musgrove management (Sherwood in Dorothy) with which he travelled to New Zealand (Dorothy, Meryll in Yeomen of the Guard, Pippo in La Mascotte, Colonel in Patience, Florian in Princess Ida, concerts ‘Pro Peccatis’, ‘Nazareth’) . He played again in New Zealand with Sheridan, until in July 1891 he set sail for America.

Australian press photograph of the 1890s .. the best I can do!
What he did there is part of my Microsoftegg … but one thing he did, 22 January 1892, was get married. (Again?). The lady was Gertrude Noel, and I haven’t investigated her, but she died aged 35 (25 Chepstow Place, Bayswater 13 May 1899) …

Over the next few years I see him playing in New York in a musical Jupiter with Digby Bell, then touring with the once great baritone, W T Carleton, now reduced to no3 dates, and .. what is this? Innes and his New York Band present at Ann Arbour the musical spectacle War and Peacewith artillery ,, and Henry-Mose as bass soloist!

That was 1894. They went back to England shortly thereafter. ‘H M Imano’ appeared in a the Kiralfy spectacular Indiaat Earl’s Court, Cinderellaat Newcastle (1896) .. before taking to booming out baritone ballads in the music hall (‘The Wolf’, ‘The Drum’) all the way to the country’s premier hall, the Oxford. In 1897 he was ‘the evil spirit, Aconite’ in Cinderellaat Liverpool and then went on tour as Albertoni in the hit musical The Circus Girl (ex-Cartesian Kate Talby was Lady Dora). A stint in an Osmond Carr musical, The Celestials, proved fruitless, even more so a Dalston piece, The Lady Philosopher (1898)starring old colleague Aida Jenoure, and it was back to panto at Bradford.

When the Boer war hit, he did the halls with ‘The Absent Minded Beggar’, he gave a matinée ‘under the patronage of the Savage Club’ (June 1900) … and in 1902 he remarried, Miss Miriam Isabel Davis.

He continued to work … halls, panto, the odd musical (My Lady Molly as ‘the Landlord’) … there are probably yonks of credits in my books and notes … but, anyway, there’s the bones of it.

Henry-Mose died 26 March 1907 at 34 Nottingham Place Marylebone Road. His last wife survived him by 20 years …

So, there you are. Just about everything we needed or wanted (or not) to know about ‘H M Imano’. And Mose Hyman. I wonder if he really was the Brooklyn Jewish shoemaker … that would make three wives ..

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Cartesian players: What a lot of Wilkinsons!

George’s second request to me was … to sort out the Wilkinsons. You know, Arthur, John, Laura, Ben, Poppie … that lot. So I started (after a morning wasted on the mysterious Kate Talby) … and, immediately, I thought ‘I’ve done this before’. Then, after an hour or so, I remembered why. The only problem was to FIND my ancient research among the heaps of files which the cursed Microsoft has rendered out of date and unreadable …

Opened my first lime, and found it. OK. I’m not going to deal with their careers. They were largely D’Oyly Cartesian, and that means David Stone has done the leg work there. I’ll just set the record straight as to who they actually were. Not difficult, for all, except ‘John Benjamin W’ of the D’Oyly Carte (died 7 November 1891), were from the same family. And real Wilkinsons. Arthur and John were brothers, John married Laura and sired 'Poppie'.

Now, I wasn’t ‘into’ the D’Oyly Cartesians ten years ago. That only started last month. So why did I delve out the details on the Wilkinsons? Answer: their father. Their father is for me the family star. I shall post his little Kurtbiog on my blog and my Author facebook page (both open to allcomers), but because he predates DO’C … here, I shall just give chapter and verse.

Ralph Wilkinson, organist, married (first wife) Julia Peel Westrop in 1856, and from that marriage were born, in quick order:
(1)           Ralph Westrop Wilkinson 
(2)           Arthur John Haigh Wilkinson
(3)           Julia Annie St Leger Wilkinson (Mrs John Thomas Simpson)
(4)           John Edward Wilkinson
(5)           Jessie Wilkinson
(6)           Alfred Wilkinson

All christened at St Maurice, York, father’s birth-town … before Ralph went up to the big smoke. 

I haven’t followed up the girls, but three of the boys went in for music. Ralph jr was a star choirboy at St James’s chapel royal, but his (mental) health let him down and he ended up a young pensionnaire of Bethlehem asylum. Arthur (b York 27 August 1859; killed Liverpool 31 March 1894) had a grand career with an unhappy traffic-accident ending, and John (x York 3 March 1861; d Northampton 20 February 1910) became a Big G&S Star in Buenos Aires before, also, an untimely death.

Arthur as Major Murgatroyd

John as Robin Oakapple
John had time to wed, and he wed (Hastings 1883) a fellow D’Oyly Cartesian, ‘Laura Elliston’. Elliston was not likely to be a kosher name in the theatre, and of course her actual name was Laura Alderton. I haven’t followed her up (being only a tardy Wilkinson) but I’m sure she traces easily. They promptly had a daughter, the above-said Poppie who doesn’t appear as such, amongst the Pollys and Phoebes, in the British records. And that's the 20th century, which is outside my knowledge.

So, not very exciting, but precise. OK, George? Is that what you wanted? 


Saturday, May 26, 2018

A French Pan Treat! or, the meal of the year ...

 We have a new restaurant in the Kiosk block in our street. A French restaurant. I think, chuckle, I might have mentioned it before. Of course, I, as a demi-semi-Frenchman (especially when it comes to food) am delighted. But it could have been a two-edged sword. If it had been old-fashioned French, with all those rich sauces … or if it had been mock-French, or MacDonalds French …

Well, as I’ve recounted: I and my friend Robert – the Statler and Waldorf of Yamba – put a toe in, then a foot, then half-a-leg … and I put a very definite ‘like’ on the facebook page of the French Pan Tree.

A few days later, this turned up on my time line …

Whaaaaat! A 14-kilo Jewfish, fresh from the ocean … on the menu tonight!

Statler and Waldorf had a nice gin (I have fresh Yamba lime, Robert likes tonic) and then met up and headed for Kiosk Street. 

Well, a nice bottle of Chablis … then a boeuf tartare … lovely! Not mince, but delicious little ‘bites’, all oiled and herbied … with the wine, it keeps you luxuriating for 15 minutes! That’s food!  And then the Main Event. This is what chef Charlie extracted from that huge beast. The best piece of fish I’ve eaten in … now, don’t exaggerate, Kurt … well, as good as any, ever. That’s 72 years of ever.

 We relaxed with a second glass of Chablis, then called for the cheese. I very rarely eat desserts, I prefer to take my curtain call with cheese. And this was Real French Cheese. I know, there are some excellent local cheeses here (six or seven of them are, right now, oozing on the top of my fridge … ON never in), but … well, French for the memory of the days when Ian andI went marketing for 500g of Conté, 500g of Cantal, 500g …

A little glass of calvados ..

But there’s one thing I can’t visit this restaurant without tasting. The home-made pâté. Well, since it didn’t fit with my meal, I bought some to take home. It’s sitting on top of the fridge next to the local cheese …

The French Pan Tree is sending me droolworthy pictures … but I must eat all this lovely market food I’ve stocked in! 

Once a week to Kiosk Street! Well, maybe twice …. 

Friday, May 25, 2018

Old Adam: or, when talent skips a generation


Today's request. Here you are, George ...


Was born Richard Horatio Marriott 1847 in Manchester, the illegitimate son of star actress Alice Marriott, undoubtedly not by her later (1856) husband Irishman Robert Edgar who, around this time, was lessee of the Adelphi Theatre, Liverpool and theatres in Wigan and St Helen’s, and ‘married’ to the actress Anna Newby. Anna died aged 29, in Lancaster lunatic asylum.

Richard’s life in the theatre was persistent if modest. From his teens, he acted as acting manager for his mother, at Sadler’s Wells, in America, and on tour in England, performing minor roles when needed. He had perhaps his most noteworthy moment in the theatrical world when he joined Charles Collette in putting together the successful vehicle for the comedian entitled Cryptoconchoidsyphonostomata in 1875.

He tried himself as a music-hall comic, went bankrupt trying to run the Theatre Royal, Rochdale, turned out a Comic Historie of Heraldry, played in touring companies (Imprudence &c), and, for a few years, between 1887-9 played with D’Oyly Carte’s touring companies in The Mikado (Pish Tush) and Ruddigore (Old Adam). He promoted ‘Richard Edgar’s Comedy Company’ in the 1890s. 
He died at 40 Weltje Rd Hammersmith 29 Sept 1894.

Son Richard can be seen running an Islington bottle-store in 1901 along with mother, two brothers and a sister. Son George, would go on to be known as ‘Marriott Edgar’ (1880-1851) and have a career as a writer ('Albert and the Lion', the hit musical Jill Darling). The novelist ‘[Richard Horatio] Edgar Wallace’ was apparently his illegitimate son ‘born in poverty…’ 1 April 1875, to an actress in the Marriott  company. A week earlier Richard had married musician’s daughter, Jane Taylor (1856-1937).

Mr Temple of the Savoy ... and lots of other places, too

TEMPLE, Richard [COBB, Richard Barker]  (b London 2 March 1846; d Charing Cross Hospital, London 19 October 1912)

Richard Temple is a well-known name in the history of the musical theatre, thanks to his long service in the companies of Richard D’Oyly Carte. But his career did exist for nearly a decade before the coming of Messrs Sullivan and Gilbert, and last for another, after the end of his famous career at the Savoy Theatre.

Richard was born in London, the first son of stockbroker Richard Cobb, from Yorkshire, and his wife Eliza Barker (m 20 March 1845) and began his life as a clerk and cashier in a bank. He partook of amateur dramatics, and I spot him in 1868 (9 April) taking part as an actor (‘remarkably animated and voluble’) in a performance ofThe Foster Sister staged at the Haymarket Theatre by Thomas Coe, the city’s foremost acting teacher. One imagines that young Richard (‘Temple’ already) was a pupil.

Even before that, however, I have spotted him singing at the St Patrick’s Benevolent Fund’s beanfeast of 1867 along with the decidedly professional concourse of Rose Hersee, Ellen Lyon, Chaplin Henry and Montem Smith.

He made his professional stage debut in 1869 (31 May) in George Perren’s English opera season at the Crystal Palace, playing Rodolpho in La Sonnambula alongside Perren and Blanche Cole (‘he is evidently a beginner as far as acting is concerned’, ‘a good voice’, ‘Mr Temple’s time to make a strong impression is yet to come’) and went on to sing in Lucia di Lammermoor, as Pablo in The Rose of Castille and the King in Maritana between June and November.
After a few suburban concerts, he joined up with Stanley Betjemann’s little touring opera, playing the popular repertoire on the minor circuits with Fanny Heywood, Bessie Emmett, Bessie Palmer and Furneaux Cook. In February, Betjemann ventured his troupe to London’s St George’s Hall to play Faust and Maritana. Temple was Mephistopheles and the King, and had now joined the management.

When the Crystal Palace operas recommenced in April, he returned to play Rodolpho, the King, Father Tom in The Lily of Killarney, and the Sheriff in Martha, dashing off to Croydon or Portsea between times to sing Luna or Arnheim for Betjemann.

In 1871, he sang a Messiah at the cheap St George’s Hall concerts at which he shared the music with Bessie Emmett, Reed Larwill and a Miss Kennett, but most particularly with ‘electric light’. In March of the year, he trekked to Nottingham where Perren was trying out local composer T Luard Selby’s opera Adela with a view to its production at the Crystal Palace. It didn’t come.

Temple had a full book in 1871: he appeared in concert and in opera (The Night Dancers, The Bohemian Girl etc) at the Crystal Palace, he made further appearance at St George’s Hall, usually with Bessie and illustrating with oratorio excerpts some learned lecture, he appeared at the Alfred Theatre in operetta (Lost and Found) and then the couple – for they were evidently now a couple -- joined up with a little company put together by Fred Sullivan to play Levey’s Punchinello (Marquis), Cox and Box (Bouncer), Breaking the Spell (Old Matthew) et al at Manchester and Liverpool. The musical director for the opening night of the tiny troupe was Arthur Sullivan.

Back to London for The Night Dancers and Il Trovatore with Florence Lancia at Crystal Palace, then on to the St James’s Theatre where Rose Hersee was launching her Royal National Opera. He played Don Pedro and Devilshoof in the unfortunate season, before Miss Hersee took to the road and headed for a season in Dublin. Temple was cast as Mephistopheles, Figaro, Devilshoof et al.

1872 started less busily: the St George’s Hall People’s Concerts and lectures, Rivière’s proms at Cremorne Gardens, until in May he apparently returned to Liverpool, where a rip-off Henry Hersee version of the hit opéra-bouffe Geneviève de Brabant was being put on. But he left quickly as the botched show crumbled. But opéra-bouffe was the rage, and Mr Temple seemed to suit its combination of fine vocalising and robust burlesque acting: he moved instead to the Alhambra to succeed to the role of Pippertrunk in the spectacular Le Roi Carotte, and then to the Opera Comique to play the comic gendarme, Gérome, in L’Oeil crevé.

In the new year, he switched briefly back to opera to sing a season with Blanche Cole in Dublin, before (‘late of the English opera company’) joining Julia Mathews in the same city to play opéra-bouffe in the provinces (General Boum, the wizard in Letty the Basketmaker, The Bohemian Girl, The Beggar’s Opera)   until she chucked her whole repertoire to play the gimmick show of the hour, Kissi Kissi.
Mr Temple went back to London, between times, and turned up in April at the Gaiety, playing his habitual role of the King in Maritana alongside Perren and Mme Lancia.

The new hit musical in town was La Fille de Madame Angot, and Mr Temple was not tardy in getting himself and his wife (for he had wed Miss Emmett in Liverpool in 1872) into roles in that show. He played the comic Larivaudière with Emily Soldene at the Gaiety, and then moved to the original production at the Philharmonic to succeed Johnnie Rouse in the same role and then back to Soldene again when she moved the production to the Opera Comique. He caused a splash in the press, when – on the illness of Dick Beverley, who was playing the high-baritone hero, Ange Pitou – he stepped in and made a fine fist of the role.

He was still singing cantatas and oratorio from Brixton to Bow, and in August 1874 he took another turn with Hersee/Perren opera group, but he turned inexorably back to the lighter genre with his Crystal Palace Operetta Company (Once too Often, The Sleeping Queen) and later in the year he took the role of Pluto –alongside Fred Sullivan as Mercury – in the burlesque Ixion Re-wheeled at the Opera Comique as well as appearing in the 1-acters Breaking the Spell and The Love Birds at the Alexandra Palace.

Dublin saw him once more in opera in mid-1875, but then he took over the Philharmonic Theatre – once the glorious home of Soldene and Geneviève de Brabant– to try to repeat the coup with an adaptation of Offenbach’s Les Géorgiennes. He himself took the role of Rhododendron Pasha and directed both that piece and The Zoo as an afterpiece. The show had a mediocre career, adding to a sad year for Temple. His young wife had died 9 May in childbirth.

In 1876, he turned up as Robin in The Waterman, as Bouncer – repeatedly – in Cox and Box, played opera in Dublin once more (Figaro, Devilshoof, Mephistopheles, Don Florio etc) and in Leicester (Caspar in Der Freischützwith Elliot Galer), and comic opera in Manchester when he created the role of Buckingham in Alfred Cellier’s Nell Gwynne and Liverpool, where he played the title-role in the same composer’s The Sultan of Mocha. He also played at the Globe Theatre in Solomon’s little A Will With Vengeance (Carlo Maloni).

Dublin persisted in casting him in opera, and he visited for a short season in March 1877 with Annie Tonnellier, but then it was back to the lighter stage, and – in spite of still being in debt to the Philharmonic – to a dabble with Cellier in production: Temple’s own version of Geneviève de Brabant with Connie Loseby and Emily Cross, and sister ‘Maria Temple’ (who had been in the chorus of Gilbert and Clay’s Princess Toto) among the cast.

The venture did not last long, and Temple returned to the safety of Blanche Cole, George Perren and Rose Hersee, with their mostly unmoving repertoire of English opera performances at the Crystal Palace, the Alexandra Palace and other venues. 

But Temple’s moment was coming. He was cast in the role of Sir Marmaduke in The Sorcerer, and his relationship with D’Oyly Carte, like that with Sullivan and Cellier, already years old, was cemented. Teamed with the star of the show, Mrs Howard Paul, he scored a success within the success of the show, and sealed his position as part of what would eventually become ‘the Savoy team’. Dick Deadeye in HMS Pinafore, The Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance, Colonel Calverley in Patience, Strephon in Iolanthe. Arac in Princess Ida, the title-role in The Mikado, Sir Roderic in Ruddigore, Sergeant Meryll in The Yeomen of the Guard, plus a number of forepieces, gave him nearly a decade of career…
After refusing the limp role of Luiz in The Gondoliers,he left the Savoy company, but returned from time to time, in London, New York or on the road, to play mostly his original roles.

However, during his time at the Savoy he took plenty of time out for other ventures. He produced an opera season in Dublin in 1879, gave ‘Richard Temple’s Dramatic Recital’ at Peckham in 1881, and the following month took the part of King Portico in a revival of Princess Toto. He played operetta at the Opera Comique (Lovers’ Knots, Quid pro quo) and visited Manchester to create the role of King James in The Lancashire Witches, as well as playing the part of Abdallah in the tryout of Solomon’s Lord Bateman. In September 1882, he returned briefly to the opera, and in 1883 he floated the opera season at the Crystal Palace, seemingly to allow himself to play the role of Rigoletto. 19 May 1886, he remounted that piece at the Gaiety Theatre.

Trial by Jury and, endlessly, Cox and Box at matinees, directing amateurs in Ireland and Gretna Green at the Comedy, giving ‘Ship on Fire’ at the Aquarium and making a music-hall debut at The Trocadero with ‘The Footman’s Lament’ by Fred Bowyer and Georg Jacobi ‘character songs illustrating various phases of a flunkey’s life’, a tour with The Nautch Girl (Pyjama), New York for The Gondoliers (as Giuseppe) and another attempt at being an impresario with a version of Gounod’s Le Medecin malgré lui. A curious choice, commented the press, but clearly made to allow Temple to play Sgnarelle, alongside Susetta Fenn and Effie Chapuy. It was tried at Islington (24 November 1892), then the Globe, sent on the road and later given a performance at the Crystal Palace. He also tried a version of Mozart’s Schauspielendirekor as L’Impresario (Crystal Palace 18 October 1892).

In 1892 he was appointed to the Royal College of Music, where he produced a number of operas with the students (Orphée, his own adaptation of Le Roi l’a dit, Falstaff),and later fulfilled a similar function at the London College of Music (Il Matrimonio segreto, Die beiden Schützen)

But he still continued to perform on the musical stage (Lord Silvertop in The Golden Web, George in Miami, replacing Colin Coop as Sid Fakah in the musical comedy Morocco Bound, taking over as the Baron in Mirette, The Chieftain at the Savoy) as well as producing, directing and starring in a new piece entitled Wapping Old Stairs (Dick Fid, 17 February 1894) which lived a brief life at the Vaudeville Theatre.

He fulfilled a certain amount of work as a director (The Red Spider, Shamus O’Brien) and also set himself up as a reciter. I spot him doing a not very convincing Athaliewith the Queen’s Hall Choir, but his own ‘musical and dramatic recitals’ seemed to go down quite well.

In the 1900s, he appeared in a flop musical The Gay Pretenders, and a Christmas piece, Little Hans Andersen (1903, King of the Copper Castle) which William Greet staged with members of the Savoy Company, and as late as 1906 as Mr Burchell in the comic opera version of The Vicar of Wakefield. In between time, and up till 1909, he still played intermittently at the Savoy.

It had been a busy career, but when Temple fell ill, and became an invalid, the cupboard was bare. Several theatricals subscribed to a fund for him, but when he died at Charing Cross Hospital in 1912 it was, reportedly, ‘in dire poverty’.

His first wife Bessie EMMETT [EMMETT, Elizabeth Ellen] (b 43 Store Street, London 3 August 1846, d 96 Lyndhurst Rd., Peckham 9 May 1875), the daughter of an East End cabinet maker, studied music with J T Calkin and made her debut at the Boosey Ballad Concerts, 4 March 1868, singing her master’s ‘You are Going Willie’ and ‘My mother bids me bind my hair’. She made her first stage appearance with Betjemann under the name of ‘Amy Leigh’ but soon reverted to her real name. She sang second soprano to Fanny Heywood (Siebel, Lisa etc) and was Siebel in the St George’s Hall performance of Faust. She soon took over as prima donna.
From here on, her career was largely in tandem with Temple’s. She played with the Sullivan company, and with Rose Hersee (Leonora, Rosina, Agathe, Lisa, Lazarillo, Gipsy Queen, Nancy). With the Julia Mathews company, she played the Gipsy Queen and Wanda in La Grande-Duchesse.
In 1873 she took over the part of Eurydice in Orphée aux enfers at the National Theatre for John Hollingshead, and then succeeded to the role of Clairette, and subsequently to that of Lange, in the original La Fille de Madame Angot at the Philharmonic Theatre. She repeated the role of Clairette opposite Emily Soldene.
She returned to opera when the couple joined Hersee and Perren (Leonora, Eily), took part in the Crystal Palace Operetta Company performances, played Polly Peachum in The Beggar’s Opera opposite Sims Reeves, and went to Manchester to create the role of Dolly in The Sultan of Mocha.
There is no doubting that the attractive young woman with the uncomplicated, sweet soprano and acting style was ripe for a big career as a light opera leading lady.
She died in childbirth ‘of peritonitis’ at 28 years of age.

The couple’s first son, Richard [William Emmett] TEMPLE jr [COBB] (b 96 Lyndhurst Rd, Camberwell 25 October 1872; d NYC 14 October 1954) made a fine career as a leading man in musical comedy in Britain and latterly in America, playing latterly roles in revivals of the Savoy repertoire. He was the husband of musical theatre star Evie Greene.

PS Richard did not remain a widower. We see him in the 1881 census living with a 'wife' Maria, aged 29 born Kensington, as well as mother and singing sister, Maria. Then, in 1891, he re-entered the ranks of the officially married when he wed Annie Marie Davis, who is clearly the same lady who was 'Maria' in 1881. In 1901 and 1911, she is 'Marie'.