Thursday, June 7, 2018

Three times a star: from THESPIS to TROVATORE ...

This is the short biography of one of my favourite C19th performers. A lassie from Woolwich who appeared with some of the most famous companies of the century, from a burlesque boy to Azucena with the Carl Rosa Opera Co. It's been already published as one of the one hundred 'lives' in my Victorian Vocalists, but because of its G&S connection, I thought I'd put it on the Sullivan Appreciation Group's page ..

TREMAINE, Annie aka BEAUMONT, Ada and AMADI, Madame [CRILMAN otherwise CREELMAN, Anne] (b Woolwich Cadet Barracks 27 January 1848; d 1 Elgin Court, Paddington 12 December 1934)

Annie Crilman had a career of unblemished success as a theatrical vocalist and actress. Her private life, however, was not without its hiccoughs, as a result of which that career was sliced into three, or even four, or perhaps even five pieces, under three different names.

 Annie was born at Woolwich Barracks, the only daughter of a Scots sergeant in the Royal Artillery, John Dickie Crilman (b Old Monkland, Scotland 1 July 1809; d 1866) and his wife Caroline née Warden (d 1894). She began her career in her teens, and I first spot her as ‘Miss Tremayne’ or ‘Miss Tremaine’, aged sixteen, singing at Weston’s Music Hall. Weston’s featured the fashionable operatic selections, under the baton of Pat Corri, on its bills, and I imagine Annie was decidedly useful therein. 

In the same year, she sang on the opening night of the Cambridge Music Hall where she replaced Maria Luisa Ellison as ‘prima donna’ (‘Last Rose of Summer’), and later at the Strand (‘Sing birdie sing’), the Rosemary Branch et al, but Weston’s was her main date and she was soon given billing in the operatic selections alongside William D’Almaine, Rowland Lascelles, John Jennings, Douglas Mellon, Pat and Eugene Corri, Ellen Read, Miss Brougham (The Dragoons, Lucia di Lammermoor, Il Trovatore, The Mountain Sylph) and as ‘principal ballad singer’ to the establishment.
She featured at Weston’s until 1868, with time out for a tour with ‘The Great Vance’ (billed as ‘the great soprano from Covent Garden, Hanover Square Rooms etc’), and turns at such as Camden’s Maison Dorée, but in November she moved on, and up. She also got married.

Her husband (m 28 December 1868) was a commercial traveller named James Percy Fitzgerald, and the following year, at their home at 35 Bishopsgate Street, Annie would bear him twin daughters: Annie Caroline and Florence Ellen.

Her move from the music-halls was into the theatre. John Hollingshead was opening the new Gaiety Theatre in the Strand and he selected the leading ladies for the vocal part of his soon-to-be-celebrated company largely from the best singers of the music halls. Connie Loseby of the duo Constance and Losebini was his ‘principal girl’, her opposite number was Miss Tremaine. The burlesque boy was Nellie Farren.

Annie appeared on the theatre’s opening night as a boy, Albert, in the burlesque Robert the Devil, and over the next five years she was a prominent member of the Gaiety troupe playing, not only roles in operatic and opéra-bouffe or burlesque pieces (Zanetta in La Princesse de Trébizonde, Widow Brown in Zar und Zimmerman, Clementine in Barbe-bleue, Pamelia in Cinderella the Younger, Lucy Straw in Wat Tyler MP, Gertrude in Loan of a Lover, Wilhelmina in The Waterman, Lucy in The Beggar’s Opera, Karamel in Aladdin II, Lady Allcash in Fra Diavolo, Orestes in La Belle Hélène, Cicely in The Quaker, Daphne in Thespis, Ganymede in Ganymede and Galatea etc), but also leading roles in comedy opposite Toole (The Birthplace of Podgers, Uncle Dick’s Darling, Paul Pry, Dot) or Stoyle (The Matchmaker). In the off-season, she toured with Toole as leading lady in comedy and also found herself promoted in the Gaiety operas on the road. Musical or comedy, she was invariably received with delight and praise.

But this section of her career was coming to an end. In November, in spite of her husband’s disapproval, Annie went to Dublin, as the star of a company performing La Grande-Duchesse and La Belle Hélène. And she didn’t come home. She carried on with the Gaiety company, featuring as leading lady in Les Brigands, La Périchole, Barbe-bleue, The Beggar’s Opera, and when Dublin was sated, in February, the company moved to Belfast and places beyond. They didn’t stop touring till June. Mr Fitzgerald was not happy. But Mrs Fitzgerald was. Hollingshead’s manager was a gentleman by the name of George Beaumont Loveday (b Wolverhampton c 1833; d 8 Woburn Place 21 December 1887), and Annie and he had become amorously involved.
So Annie didn’t ever go home. She skipped the country. Lydia Thompson’s famous burlesque company was in need of replacement girls for its new American season: so Annie put her hand up. America was suitably distant from Bishopsgate. Lydia doubtless couldn’t believe her luck at netting Miss Tremaine of the Gaiety. The next news Mr Fitzgerald had of his wife was when the papers identified ‘Ada Beaumont’, the stunning new vocalist of the Thompson Company, at Broadway’s Olympic Theatre, inMephistoas Annie. The ‘Beaumont’ said it all. Annie had abandoned husband and children for her new love.

Ada-Annie toured with the Thompson troupe until May 1874 (‘brilliant singing and dashing demeanour’), and later the same year joined forces with C D Hess’s Clara Louise Kellogg opera company, playing mostly mezzo-soprano roles (and Marguerite in Faust, Berengaria in The Talisman etc) to rave reviews. In 1876 she toured with the visiting Therese Titiens, singing Azucena to the star’s Leonora and Adalgisa to her Norma. 

In 1876, Mr Fitzgerald sued for divorce (6 July 1876). He would later remarry, and the girls were brought up by their new mother. And Annie married George Loveday (25 January 1877) and lived happily ever after. Well, for the 10 years that he lived. She had two sons by him: George Reginald Lee Loveday (b 8 Tavistock St 14 December 1877; d Los Angeles 19 October 1942) who didn’t sing, but who, like his mother, fled to America following marital misdemeanours, and Lionel Edward Kempster Loveday (b 5 Mecklenburgh Street 18 December 1881; d Canterbury 1 June 1938)

The new part of her life necessitated a new name, and Annie decided to go Italian for her engagement with Mapleson’s Italian Opera (Donna Elvira). ‘Love-day’ became ‘Ama-di’.

In 1880 she sang with Frederick Archer’s opera company (Leonora, Zerlina etc), and in Armit’s season at Her Majesty’s (Orsini, Azucena, Donna Elvira, ‘a real acquisition’ ‘Il segreto’ ‘with great spirit winning by general consent an encore’), before in 1881 she found her next niche: in the rôles des Desclauzas in comic opera.

‘Madame Amadi’ played in London in Thérésa’s role of Margot in La Belle Normande, Cerisette in The Naval Cadets, Margot in La Boulangère a des écus, another Thérésa role in which she was judged better than the original Aimée, and in 1882 she appeared at the Alhambra as Artemisia in The Merry War. She guested opposite Sims Reeves in Guy Mannering, played the superb role of Madame Jacob in Our Divaand Donna Tralara in the unfortunate Mynheer Jan(1887).

After Loveday’s death, she went to the provinces playing Mrs John Wood’s role of Mrs Jannaway in the comedy Mamma, then returned to town in further musical pieces: Marjorie, Captain Thérèse, The Rose of the Ring, Maid Marian, Cigarette, The Golden Web, His Highness, The Queen of Brilliants, The Taboo and the odd comedy (The Planter), establishing herself as the best operatic komische Alte of the time and place.

In 1893, she was engaged by the Carl Rosa Opera Company and over the next five seasons appeared with them as Martha, Emilia in Otello, Lady Allcash, Mrs Cregan, the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet, Mamma Lucia and Magdalene in Die Meistersinger.

And then, after her thirty-plus years of thoroughly successful career, Annie Loveday went into a long retirement. She died at the age of 86.

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