Tuesday, January 29, 2019

John Gallas: THE BLOOD BOOK.

OK. I suppose everything has to be learned. This is my first time out as a Publisher and I’m doing it all alone. Well, except for the printing etc, which is in the hands of Lorene of Christchurch and Dave of Sacramento, Cal.

Their bit is all but done, soon I shall have books here at Gerolstein, and I realise that I have probably done things in quite the wrong order. I should have been touting for orders weeks ago. But I didn’t like to. Firstly, until I get the printers’ bill, I don’t know what the exact unit cost of the book is. Until I get the first paper copy, I can’t know what size padded envelope I will need and what the postage will be. Then I have to work out how people can pay … Paypal, I suppose. I don’t have it, but John does. No, I sha’n’t hand it over to Amazon: there are only 250 copies in the (first?) run, and if I keep to direct sales, I can keep the price down …

This morning, it was announced that John had won the prestigious Reuben Rose Voices of Israel Poetry Competition. Much kudos, a nice cheque and a trip to Israel, lucky lad …

'Death of a Ploughman'
... Perhaps to such people who tend it this dull land
may be laboured and loved. Rain rings on the bell.
I wait on a bench inside the porch. The doors thump open ;
the bier sways past. I quietly call his name.

Well, he was kinder than the life it made him.
The bearers carry him into the mist.
Beyond the tilled bank, they sink into the earth. I stamp
the mud from my boots. An owl sighs in the spindles ...

And inquiries and even orders for his new book started coming in! So I thought, heavens, Kurt, you are doing this all wrong! I mean how will you know how many books to keep in New Zealand, for orders from Australasia, Asia, America … and how many to export to Britain … you should have opened Nominations and Acceptances weeks ago, even with only approximate prices … so, here goes.

The book will be 404pp in a stout card cover

and 12 characteristic illustrations from the pen of the author.


The back cover holds a blurb explaining the why, wherefore and what of the book, which I'll print here, rather than the from the book's backside:

"Genealogy is the rage of the age …
As the only sons of an only son of an only childbearing son, John and I had never bothered about investigating our ancestors (‘all dead’ quoth father), until I came upon some surprising grandmotherish papers, and, a year or two ago, began delving. Well, I am happy to report we now have a complete pack of sixteen great-grand-parents, hailing from the highlands of Scotland to the puszta of Hungary … but to go back further is sometimes a tad difficult.

I noticed that many folk on the genealogical sites who haven’t succeeded in getting a full-flush of 16 ggs, or a super-slam of of 32 gggs, have shyly fabricated a fake family. So, John, taking a wee break from publishing end-to-end volumes of poetry, decided to have a bit of fun and do the same for us. This family tree doesn’t just go back to the factual Black Bull pub in C16th century Aberdeen, or the equally factual Jewish merchants of Mór, Fejer, it goes back to our maternal great-grandfather 552 times removed, and our paternal great-grandmother 552 times removed, in lands and cultures beyond time, and it follows the fates and frolicks of their descendants rudely through the millennia, as they war and couple and schnort and compete and breed … oh! How they breed! Well, have to keep the tree ablossoming …

Until it gets to John Gallas, and to his brother, Kurt Gänzl, who thought this was too goodly a historie to keep as just a family in-joke, and invented the Gerolstein Press, which, 552 generations on, proudly presents THE BLOOD BOOK!"


Well, that's whats in it. The tales of the barely levitating Weird Woman of Bab-i-ploj, the unprecedented Matter of Someone Being a Bird, the Sorcerous Seer and her lost rune-sticks, Elizabeth whose profession is to play the organ to drown the screams of the tortured ... and many more.

What ought I say next? Um. It looks as if the price will come out at something like $45NZ, which gulped me a tad till I heard that a modern-day Penguin Book is twenty quid. I'll translate it into GBP when I have the exact figures. Which should be quite soon. Then I've got to buy the little country postoffice out of padded bags, so that if there are any copies left when I leave for my Winter Palace, Wendy can take over as postmistress ...  but I suspect there won't be.

The office of Gerolstein Press is situated at The Living Room, Gerolstein, 38 Maguire's Rd, Rangiora RD7 7477, New Zealand, but orders should be made by addressing me, with postal details, at ganzl@xtra.co.nz. 

I know that's not how you do it, but I'm old fashioned and trusting (and ignorant of the way of the book business) so that's the way I'll do it ..

Now, ruddy libraries. How do I get on to THEM ...

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Pauline Joran: From the Savoy to Santuzza and Rossweisse

My piece on the Gianettae of the Gondoliers and its pendant comments about how, seemingly, the Cartesian casting department, in the following years, lost its soprano way until the appearance of Ruth Vincent led to a learned and amiable discussion of the Sullivan website, which made me realise that I had omitted to rescue (American) Pauline Joran from among the flock of American tweety-bird sopranos of the 1890s.
Pauline only played 50 nights at the Savoy, in the role of the dramatic Saida in The Beauty Stone. And whatever was wrong with the show (I have never, alas, heard it), and something clearly was, there was nothing wrong with the dramatic soprano. So here, by way of apologia, is my little piece about Miss Joran.
JORAN, [Clara] Pauline (b Freeport, Illinois 3 August 1870; d St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington 13 August 1954)

Augustus Harris described Pauline Joran, in the 1890s, as ‘one of the most useful and efficient artistes on the operatic stage’. And there is little doubt that he was right.

Pauline was the subject of a number of biographical pieces during her career, some reasonably accurate, others not so precise. So, I’ll just get rid of the wrong bits first. She was not born in Chicago. Her father was not a music master. Her mother was not an ‘English pianist of repute’. She was not their eldest child (of three).

Father was Louis Grund Joran [Alois Josef Albin Anton Joran] (b Vienna 21 February 1830; d Chicago 22 February 1901). His life and career (up to 1872) has been minutely recorded by a certain John Gregory, civil engineer, of Milwaukee in a tome subtitled Biographies of Leading Men (of Milwaukee, that is) which he certainly was not. But he was a friend of Mr Gregory. His occupation was 'artist-painter', and I see a couple of his indifferent works survive, including a portrait of Mr Gregory. In 1877, I see him advertising for work as ‘portrait painter, paintings copied or restored …’.

Mother was Mary Elizabeth née Askew (b Milwaukee 16 March 1850; d 7 Sunderland Terrace, Paddington 23 March 1933), and the couple seem to have been wed around 1867. Their first child, Louise Marie (‘Lula’) was born 22 September 1868, Pauline came second, and [Henrietta] Elise the last. The dates of the children’s births were later much talked of, because the three sisters were to become very precocious child musical stars.

They did so without father, for Mary Askew Joran divorced her useless husband in 1879, for ‘failure to provide’. He 'failed to provide' in Sacramento, California, to where they had removed about 1877.

Lula was the first sister to appear in public (7 February 1878), as a pianist ‘aged 9’, Pauline appears as a baby violinist in 1880, a pupil of Charles Goffrie, once of London’s Réunion des Arts, and, by 1883, I see Elise joining them for an amateur production of The Invisible Price, put on by Julia Melville Snyder. In March 1884, Adelina Patti visited a private home in Sacramento, and the two little pianists and the baby violinist were put on show in front of her. The event, of course, made the press.

The sisters were now becoming well known as artists and as an act. I see them playing at Gordon’s Opera House, at the Orchestral Union, the Congregational Hall and Irving Hall, with Enrico Campobello, and touring round California under the organisation of Marie C Hyde, a local music teacher and the leading light of the Occidental Mandolin Club. In 1886, they held a ‘Farewell Concert’ to raise funds to go eastwards and then to Europe. Pauline Rita and her husband flautist Radcliffe appeared in their concert, but in the end they didn’t go to Euroep. They went in quite the opposite direction. First to Honolulu, with Campobello, and then to Australia. They made their first appearance at the YMCA hall in Sydney 30 July 1886, with great success, and became the darlings of the season as they continued on to Melbourne, Ballarat, Brisbane et al for fourteen months. Alongside the piano and violin items, impresario R S Smythe supplied a vocalist or two – locals Mary Ellen Christian and Gabrielle Boema, and then Californian Ella Lark (Mme ‘Aldini’) – but, in spite of what we are told, it seems that Pauline may have started singing in private already. A certain Mrs Blake-Alverson, who had been, for a while, the vocalist of the troupe in California, later penned her memoirs, in which she claimed to have taught Pauline her first vocal exercises for eighteen months. So maybe she did.

The Jorans arrived back in California (via Honolulu) in November 1887, but the following year they were off again, this time to Mexico, Yucatan and Cuba. And, according to another article, it was there that Pauline began singing. Maybe. Anyway, they can be seen arriving back in America 3 April 1890. They did not stay long. I pick them up next in Berlin, in December, where Elise is studying with d’Albert and Pauline with Émile Sauret. But apparently also with Julius Hey, the singing teacher of Rosa Olitzka and a fashionable man of the moment.

There was always talk of London, but I don’t know quite when the Jorans crossed the channel. It is somewhere said that Pauline made her first appearances as a violinist at the Crystal Palace. I can find no record of that. Wilhelm Ganz tells us in his memoirs that, in his capacity of music fixer at the Meistersingers Club he listened to Pauline play the violin, and then later tried her voice and recommended her to follow a singing career. He then goes on to tell of the singing-fiddling role of Beppe (not Beppo) in Mascagni’s L’Amico Fritz and how he suggested her for the part with the Carl Rosa.

It is all, doubtless, true but it is rather telescoped. And has led other folk, including Wikipedia, to get the wrong end of the stick. Giulia Ravolgi was the original British Beppe at the Italian Opera in London. Pauline played the little part with its gipsy violin solo on tour with the Rosa.

Anyhow, we are not there yet. I guess the Meistersingers episode happened pre-my first sighting, because the first singing engagement I see Pauline undertaking, is in 11 May 1892, at a do for the German Hospital. Fixer and conductor: Wilhelm Ganz. Then, on 28-29 June the Grosvenor Club put on two performances of Orfeo. Frauen Meissinger and Ghersen were the two principals, and Pauline sang the little part of Amor. Arditi, no less, conducted. And, immediately after, Pauline was announced to take part in the next Rosa tour.

The company’s tour opened five weeks later, in Dublin (15 August 1892), and Pauline made her theatrical debut as the Gipsy Queen to Alice Esty’s The Bohemian Girl on the first night. Two nights later, she was Siebel to Esty’s Marguerite and E C Hedmondt’s Faust, the Mercedes to the Carmen of Zélie de Lussan, Lazarillo to the Maritana of Esty, and finally sang two leading roles: when The Bohemian Girl was repeated she sang Arline (‘sang and acted very cleverly’) with Louise Meisslinger as the Queen, and when Djamileh was produced (10 September 1892) for the first time in English, she featured, opposite Barton McGuckin, in the title-role. ‘She was much applauded’.

Pauline had established herself in the operatic world, in one month, by all the traits which would make her Sir Harris’s favourite: She was pretty, charming, a fine actress with a most musicianly mezzo-to-soprano voice (‘rich and flexible’, ‘pretty if not powerful’) which was still expanding, she sang correctly and as the Dublin critic noted ‘her thorough acquaintance with her text, music and stage business was deserving of all credit’. It certainly was. She had learned and played seven roles since her engagement, two months previously, and there were more to come. Pauline Joran was indeed an operatic managers dream.

The company moved on to Belfast and then to Manchester where, on 24 September, L’Amico Fritz was produced, with Ella Russell and Hedmondt, and Pauline pulled out her violin. The virtuoso Alsatian melody was probably the ‘big tune’ of the opera, and the effect of having a performer who could give it live, on stage, caused a great sensation. ‘Miss Pauline Joran produced her great effect with her violin solo, but she looked and acted capitally as the gipsy boy’.

Sheffield, Leeds, Dundee, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Liverpool … the tour marched on in to the new year, and Pauline added the roles of Ann Chute in The Lily of Killarney, Lola in Cavalleria Rusticana and Venus in Tannhäuser (‘singing with much charm and bewitching power’, ‘very finely played’) to her bundle. She also appeared in the various concerts the company gave en route, both playing and singing, and Elise, who seemed to be accompanying the tour, played too. In Liverpool, Pauline took the contralto part in a performance of the Stabat Mater. And in Middlesborough she went on for Esther Palliser as Santuzza.

On 19 July, Mascagni came to London to conduct L’Amico Fritz at Sir Harris’s Italian Opera, Covent Garden. Calvé and de Lucia repeated their roles from the previous season, and for the role of Beppe … Miss Joran was ‘borrowed’ from the Carl Rosa. Cavalleria rusticana was given, too, and Pauline sang Lola to the star’s Santuzza. On 12 July, the composer took the two operas to Windsor Castle and played them before the Queen.

Having borrowed Miss Joran, Augustus Harris was not inclined to give her back, and when his company began its tour at Edinburgh in September, she was there as Siebel, Mercedes, Urbano in Les Huguenots, then Mistress Ford in Falstaff, Anita in La Navarraise … but by the time they reached Liverpool she was also singing Santuzza.

The company returned to Drury Lane 24 March, where Pauline gave her Santuzza (‘excellently played’) to London, a whole lot more Mercedes, Siebel or Lazarillo, and, when Orfeo was put on, as the second half of the bill with Cavalleria rusticana, Pauline added the role of Eurydice (‘remarkable versatility’) to her Santuzza.

Harris’s regular season at Covent Garden began 14 May 1894 (Mercedes, Lazarillo, Lola with Calvé, Urbano) and doubled with a German season. The ever-willing Miss Joran sang Rossweise in Die Walküre. And then Siebel to the Marguerite of Madame Melba. And then it was back on the road as Santuzza (‘truly admirable’) Anita (‘her voice, pure and bright in quality, gains in strength … she sang the music admirably and acted occasionally with tragic power’), Mistress Ford to the Falstaff of Bispham (‘bright, sympathetic tones’) …

In early 1895, she voyaged to Italy ‘where she had the opportunity of studying the rôle of Nedda in Pagliacci with Leoncavallo himself, who spoke very highly of her conception of the part. She has been re-engaged for Sir Augustus Harris' coming season.’ Of course, she had.

She gave her Nedda in Harris’s spring season at Drury Lane, and the critics found that although she did not equal her predecessor vocally, she acted the part much more effectively. The previous Nedda had been Melba. During the season she put on breeches and, as Stephano, supported Melba in Roméo et Juliette.
It was announced that Pauline would play the role of Carmen in the new Harris season, but she didn’t. Instead, she swanned off to Paris, and thence to Milan to make ‘my Italian debut’. It wasn’t an earth-shaking debut. Edoardo Sonzogno had taken the old Canobbiana in Milan, re-christenened it the ‘Teatro Lirico’, and there, 31 October 1895, Pauline gave her Santuzza. I can’t find a notice. The Canobbiana wasn’t exactly news. From Milan, she continued on to the Liceo, Pesaro (manager, until he was sacked, Mascagni), and it was there she gave what seems to have been her first Carmen. And, of course, Santuzza.

When Augustus Harris re-opened at Covent Garden, 4 April 1896, she gave her Carmen. Philip Brozel was Jose, Amy Sherwin Micaela, and Pauline had to deal with memories of arguably the best Carmen of the era in Calvé. But she succeeded, with her ‘Highly coloured rendering, which delighted the Italians in the last winter season’, ‘A decided success ... has the physique for the part … Miss Joran’s voice may not be very powerful but it is very sweet in quality and she sings with much expression and taste’, ‘brilliantly successful ... an admirable performance vocally and histrionically’.

She played Nedda rather than Santuzza (‘seen to great advantage her acting being excellent and her rendering of the music indicated a decided advance as a vocalist’), and she appeared in Harris’s own opera The Lady of Longford which got more performances than it might have, due to being paired with Hänsel und Gretel (‘[she] displayed vocal and histrionic capacity which will ere long we are convinced raise this talented lady to a much higher position’. ‘[She is] one of those meritorious young artists who strive to do their best on all occasions’ noted the press.

And then Augustus Harris died. And Pauline Joran’s professional life changed. The year round operatic engagements gave place to a more relaxed schedule. In the latter part of 1896, where she would have been touring, she turned to concerts, with her Amico Fritz number as a speciality, and 10 December she gave a concert of her own, at St James’s Hall. Elise, who hadn’t had the brilliant career predicted for her by some, played, Richard Green joined in duet (‘Crudel perche’), and Pauline gave the waltz song from Roméo et Juliette, the Habanera, ‘Quella trine morbide’ et al.

The following month she sang the Habanera again, when she guested briefly with the Carl Rosa at the Garrick Theatre (26 January 1897), but 16 February she took a new line, when she, seemingly, inspired a production of Paër’s famous Le Maître de Chapelle as a supporting piece to a Kitty Loftus piece at the Prince of Wales Theatre. The little opéra-comique proved a surprising success, and Pauline repeated it at her concert of 8 July 1897.

And then ..

‘Pauline Joran has been secured by D'Oyly Carte for the new romantic opera by Sir Arthur Sullivan, Pinero and Carr. We understand that the authors consider her specially suited to the part she is to create. Miss Joran has been spending the winter in Brussels, perfecting her French repertory with Madame Moriani and M Vermandaele..’…

Well, The Beauty Stone by Pinero, Comyns Carr and Arthur Sullivan wasn’t the greatest of ‘romantic musical drama’s. Pauline had the wicked woman’s role, alongside Ruth Vincent as the sweet crippled heroine (!), but she was not well showcased (‘a very fascinating Saida, who is treated none too well by Sir Arthur Sullivan since the most is not made of her vocal capacity’) and the piece faded out after 50 performances.

And Pauline returned to the Carl Rosa company. She played Marguerite in Faust, Nedda and Carmen, and when the company came to the Lyceum Theatre she again played both Santuzza and Nedda.

There wasn’t much more. On 6 December 1899 Pauline married William Ernest Bush (b 29 October 1860; d July 1903), otherwise the Baron de Bush, of Preshaw, Hants, and effectively retired from the stage. The Baron was killed by falling from a train, just three-and-a-half years later, leaving Pauline with a baby daughter, Paulise Marie Louise (1900-1975, Mrs Lugg).

She lived half a century a widow, but interested herself (‘Baroness de Bush’) in the arts and young performers up till her death in 1954.

The other sisters had different fates. Lula married a Bremerhaven gentleman of business, Johann Friedrich Franz Melchior Schwoon (12 April 1899) and lived to the age of 97 (d Hove 12 July 1966). The marriage was unsuccessful, but produced a daughter. Elise, unmarried, lived with mother, until Mary’s death in 1933, and latterly became a recluse in a Bayswater flat. She and her little dog died, 4 August 1952, when her apartment was destroyed by fire. The newspaper reporting the drama commented ‘she is believed to have been a music-hall artist’. I hope not. M d’Albert and Moritz Moszkowski would have been disappointed.

Elise Joran
As for father, he lived till 1901, with a new wife and another daughter … still painting not very well, but probably more peacefully. It does seem as if Mary née Askew had been a bit of a ‘stage mother’.

Pauline Joran isn’t written about much in those books about nineteenth century American prime donne from Sutton and Biscaccianti via Caterina Marco and her ilk, or, better, Julia Gaylord, up to the days of Ella Russell and Albani. But she appeals to me … I reckon she deserves her place.

PS Well flutter me days, she's been Wikipedia-ed. Oh well, let's hope we agree!

PPS As a result of this wee piece I have, happily, since come in contact with the present day descendants of Pauline Joran, resulting in a cache of family documents, 'lost' for nearly half a century,  being restored to the family. Great-grand-daughter Ms Sonia York-Pryce of Queensland College of Art has succeeded in tracking down the Austrian forbears of the family, and filling out the early part of the story somewhat. So, add my description of Pauline's career, and I think this bit of musical history has come together quite nicely.


The earlier Gilbert and Sullivan operas-bouffes underwent some strange (re-)casting during their original runs. Some of it worked magnificently, some is an enduring puzzlement.

Liverpudlian-Australian ‘Alice May’, entirely efficient, created the part of Aline (The Sorcerer) at least partly because she and her paramour, conductor ‘Grievous Bodily’ Allen, were investors in the production. So far, so good. Alice was replaced by her understudy, London-Jewish ‘Giulia Warwick’ (Julia Ehrenberg), again perfectly competent. The management followed up the Australian piste, so fruitfully mined by John Russell at Covent Garden, by casting Tasmanian Emma Howson as Josephine (HMS Pinafore), and following her contract’s end, gave a turn to very pretty little Alice Burville, a sometime burlesque actress, to touring prime donne Eleanor Loveday and to ‘Duglas Gordon’ (Ellen Louise Thomas) both proven on the circuits, Fanny Holland, star of the German Reed establishment, and, in a first, but far from the last, dip into the American scene, the pretty and pretty disastrous Blanche Roosevelt. Jewish opera singer Helene Crosmond (Hannah Levy) was to have created Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance, but in the end it was Jewish music-hall soprano ‘Marion Hood’ (Sarah Isaacs) who made a grand success in the role, depped for by student Ellen Shirley, and by another very capable lady, ‘Emilie Petrelli’ (Emily Mary Jane Peters). 

Fanny Holland

When Miss Petrelli turned down the ‘soubrette’ role of Patience, stability finally hit the prima donna spot at the Savoy with the arrival of yet another Jewish soprano, ‘Leonora Braham’ (Leonora Abraham). Miss Braham would become the copybook Savoy leading lady.

But all good things must come to an end, and during the run of Ruddigore, Miss Braham put an end to her long stint at the Savoy. She was replaced by … an American. Geraldine Ulmar was, however, a totally different bouquet of bluebells to Ms Roosevelt.

She had been well and truly tried in the Savoy roles in America, and she was thoroughly capable. Miss Ulmar played Elsie in The Yeomen of the Guard through its run, and introduced the role of Gianetta in The Gondoliers. When she was not, or no longer there, the chaos began. Fourteen other sopranos would follow her, for shorter, very shorter and slightly longer periods as lead soprano of the show. Why? I have no idea. Four were Americans, one was Australian; thirteen were heard of (a little or, in some cases, a great deal), thereafter, and fourteen I have been able to discover at least a little about. Of one (or maybe two) I know nothing. So, how about a little list.

1) Carrie Donald [DONALD, Caroline Kerracher Rodger] (b Edinburgh 9 February 1870; d North Berwick April 1930) A choir singer at St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, she had played Gianetta on tour and was more than capable. She went on to play for Carte in Ivanhoe, La Basoche and The Vicar of Bray, before retiring to marriage as Mrs Thomas Lamb.

2) Alice Baldwin. Miss Baldwin, if that were her name, played the role just a handful of times then disappeared. Chorister? Understudy? Friend of the management? Amateur paying her way? I have no idea.

3) Mina Cleary [CLEARY, Wilhelmina] (b Allumette Island, Quebec 17 August 1862; d Brookline, Mass 27 June 1929). Miss Cleary was an established performer. Daughter of an Irish hotelkeeper, Martin C Cleary, and his wife Maria Coghlan, she had played supporting roles with the Boston Ideal Opera Company between 1885-8. Her sister married the company’s bass, Eugene Cowles. She subsequently went to Paris to study and, ‘on the way home’, played some performances at the Savoy. The experience was not continued with, and Miss Cleary returned to America and the Bostonians before marrying physician John Masury and retiring.

4) Nita Carritte [CARRITTE, Lillian Henriette Temple] (b New Brunswick c1864; d New York 1 August 1929). Daughter of a doctor, Dr Thomas W Carritte of Amherst NB, and his Swiss wife Susanna Louisa Givaudin, Nita was brought up in St Paul and studied, after her father's death, with Anna La Grange in Paris. From there she (‘Nita Carita’) was hired for Augustus Harris’s 1890 Covent Garden season. Maybethology says she played Micaela. However, although that underliked role went through several tenants during the season – Minnie Evans, Margaret McIntyre, Mdlle Colombati, Regina Pinkert --, Nita did not go on. Mind you, neither did Harris’s other new hiring, Mdlle Tetrazzini. However, Nita did get to play Micaela, to friendly notices, when it was produced by the Carl Rosa in October 1890. Her publicity also says she played Faust and Mignon, but the notices credit, first, Georgina Burns and then Amy Sherwin. 5 January 1891 she succeeded to the Savoy, and played Gianetta till 21 March, when the show was advertising ‘last weeks’. Four years later, she revisited to the Rosa for some performances as Carmen, but, on her return to America, appeared only in the flop musical 1999, and in repertoire at Castle Square, before marrying musician, Frederick Emil Gramm (28 December 1899) and retiring.

5) Maud Holland [HOLLAND, Alice Maud] (b Girlington, Bradford 24 February 1867). Did she or didn’t she? During August 1890, while Carrie Donald was in possession of the role of Gianetta, Maud Holland, daughter of a couple of elementary schooteachers from Bath and Wales, and an established West End soprano, was billed for a few nights in the part. A pupil of the Royal Academy of Music, Maud had made her debut as a teenager, as cover to another ex-student, Miss Etherington (‘Marie Tempest’) in The Red Hussar, and went on to play lead roles in The Rose and the Ring, in Maid Marian (Robin Hood), in an English version of François les bas-bleus, on tour as Charlotte in La Cigale and Teresa in The Mountebanks, before creating the principal girl’s role in Little Christopher Columbus. She later succeeded May Yohe in the star part, and appeared as Alésia in La Poupée, before fleeing across the Atlantic, following her divorce from the actor known as ‘Lytton Grey’ (Charles Ford Morgan). Mr Morgan’s lightning remarriage makes it look as if there were a little collaboration between the ex-spouses. Maud did not make a notable career in America (I see her, only, advertising cough lollies). Her second daughter, as Alice Maude Morgan Grey, married into the aristocracy as Lady Alvingham.

6) Nellie Lawrence [LAWRENCE, Nellie Louise] (b Brighton 1868; d Sussex 4 November 1912) seems to have been another ephemeral Gianetta. She is a little bit tricky to follow, as there were two other contemporary ladies of the same name in action, one playing dramatic leads in the provinces with Andrew Melville and another dancing in the chorus of musical comedies such as The Silver Slipper. Our Nellie was born in Brighton 1868 where she was brought up, with her sister, by their widowed mother. Her venture into the musical theatre was brief, but she seems to have been a useful Cartesian, stepping in for those in larger parts than hers in The Pirates of Penzance, The Yeomen of the Guard, The Gondoliers (Fiammetta) and The Nautch Girl (Cheetah), before once again going back to ‘living on her own means’.

7) Esther Palliser [WALTERS, Emma F] (b Germantown, Penn 28 July 1868) was easily the most talented of D’Oyly Carte’s American prime donne. The fact was not slow to be recognised, and, apart from her engagements with him, she did not appear in the musical theatre again, restricting her operations to opera, oratorio and concerts, largely in England, before her return to America, and her retirement, as a singing teacher in California.
Miss Palliser, daughter of music teacher B Frank Walters (1840-1918) and his wife Kate Fronfield, first appeared on stage in America, as Gianetta in The Gondoliers which role she repeated as her debut in England 9 December 1890. She appeared for Carte in Ivanhoe and in La Basoche in 1891, before moving on to Covent Garden and Drury Lane to sing Carmen, Faust, Cavalleria Rusticana, Lohengrin et al. In 1893 she sang Brangaene at Covent Garden, and created C V Stanford’s Mass in G with the Bach Choir.
Miss Palliser moved to California in the mid-1910s, and taught music for a while, before vanishing from public view. Last sighting 1923. However, her birthdate is not quite so well hidden as that of her death. She was not born in 1872 as always claimed, for she can be seen in the 1870 census of Philadelphia, aged 2 or 3, living with her parents, aunt, and maternal grandparents.

(8) Louise Pemberton [PEMBERTON, Louisa] (b Chelsea 1868) Miss Pemberton played four performances at the Savoy in September 1890. Was it an ‘audition’, a ‘tryout’? Who was she? She appears to have been a greengrocer’s daughter from Chelsea who taught piano. Unless she changed her name thereafter, it seems to have been her only venture on the stage.

Norah Phyllis

(9) Norah Phyllis apparently did change her name [aka MA[C]GUIRE, Norah]. Only I’m not quite sure from what. She was ‘Norah Phyllis’ when she came on the scene in 1887-8 at All Saints’ Rooms Kensington (‘Poor Wand’ring One’) and St Colomb’s Church Notting Hill, under the aegis of teacher George Ernest Lake, and 20 March 1889 she made a ‘debut’ in concert at the Crystal Palace. In 1889 she joined the Carte company on tour, playing Elsie Maynard, and 16 December she was hurried on at the Savoy to dep for Geraldine Ulmar as Gianetta. Mr & Mrs Carte took her to America some weeks later to bolster their Gondoliers company (‘she is capable of playing any role’) and she ended up playing Casilda to the Gianetta of Miss Palliser. When the ‘American company’ returned to England, she again played Casilda to the Gianetta of America’s Lenore Snyder, before taking over as Gianetta at the Savoy. In December 1890 she sang at St George’s Chapel, in 1 July 1891 with Richard Temple’s Crystal Palace company in The Mock Doctor, and at the German Reed Entertainment in The Old Bureau, after which she apparently got married. Her husband was a doctor, stationed in Bombay, and thence she travelled. However, in 1899 she returned to England, the stage, and Carte and appeared, under the name of Norah MacGuire (or Maguire), as Lazuli in The Lucky Star et al in the country. She followed up as Nadine in the unfortunate The Prince of Borneo, as Lauretta in L’Amour mouillé for Tom Davis, sang Blush-of-the-Morning in The Rose of Persia on the road and as a replacement for Agnes Fraser at the Savoy, and my final sighting of her is as prima donna of several Carte repertoire companies, ending in 1905. In 1909, she can be seen playing Josephine with the Lichfield amateurs ...

All I know of her vital stats is that her birthday was celebrated on 3 September ...

(10) Emily Squire [SQUIRE, Emily Jane] (b Ross on Wye 2 May 1867; d 3 Bourne Court, Bournemouth 1 September 1948). I was most surprised to find the name of Emily Squire listed as having played Gianetta for a couple of weeks in June 1890. Miss Squire (or Mrs Edward William Jennings, as she became about that time) had a long and fine career, but certainly not as a musical theatre player: oratorio, concerts and the great provincial music festivals would be her natural habitat for some two decades. Emily was the eldest daughter of the musical family of Cornish bank clerk (later manager) John Squire and his wife Emma née Fisher. She studied at the RCM, and later at the RAM (Parepa Rosa Scholarship, Sainton Dolby Prize, Llewellyn Thomas Gold Medal), appeared in concert in Cardiff, Bath, Exeter, and in London at the Crystal Palace Saturday Concerts and the Handel Festival, supporting Nordica in Israel in Egypt. In 1889 she sang the quartets in Elijah behind Nordica and behind Albani, performed The May Queen and The Woman of Samaria in a Devonshire Festival, The Prodigal Son and The Last Judgment at Hadleigh, Parry’s Judith at Exeter, where the programme included her brother, Willie, the cellist and songwriter W H Squire. She made a first professional acting appearance at Ascot as a hurried replacement in the operetta Tobacco Jars.
In 1890, I spot her in concert in Swansea, Glasgow, Leicester, Hereford, and as Ursula in The Golden Legend at Newport, and then came the news: Miss Squire had been offered the role of Gianetta. But she was turning it down. A fortnight later she appeared at the Savoy. She played a dozen or so performances, then zipped back to Swansea to get married (18 September 1890). After which she returned to the concert platform – Grieg’s Olav Trygvason, The Fall of Babylon, another Prodigal Son, four engagements at the Three Choirs Festival – where she led a fine career over the next twenty years.

11) Cissie Saumarez [BARTRAM or BARTRUM, Mary Jane] (b 9 Barton Street, Bath 1870; d London 23 July 1930) was born in Bath, the second daughter of cabinet-maker Edwin Bartrum and his wife Mary Jane née Summers. She studied in London with an unknown Signor, and went on the stage in 1890, covering and taking over the role of the little bride in Dorothy. She moved to the Savoy, where she appears to have been a general swing, playing, at some time, every one of the principal contadine. She played Suttee in The Nautch Girl, but by March 1892 she was on the road featuring in the title-role of one of the interminable Dorothy tours. A selection of mostly unimpressive touring musicals (Wapping Old Stairs, Sport, The American Belle, The Transit of Venus) and pantomime princesses was relieved by a stint as Mrs Ralli Carr in Gentleman Joe, and a Diana Vernon in a Durward Lely Rob Roy, before she found a niche as singing lady (and sometimes man) in Shakespearian productions and became a longtime adjunct of F R Benson’s troupe. She later played in comedy under her married name, her husband, Mr Arthur [Herbert] Whitby (1869-1922), being an acting member of the Shakespeare company.

(12) Amy Sherwin [SHERWIN, Frances Amy Lillias] (b Judbury, Tasmania 23 March 1855; d Bromley 20 September 1935). Quite why Amy Sherwin played a week as Gianetta, I cannot imagine. She was at least a decade older than the other Gianettae and thoroughly established as a concert and operatic singer in places from her native Australia – she sang in Namaan in Tasmania, in the shadow of her elder sister, in 1872, and May 1878 made her operatic debut as Norina with a visiting opera troupe -- to America (La Traviata with Strakosh, H M S Pinafore, Damrosch’s Oratorio Society of New York, Brooklyn Philharmonic Society, Damnation of Faust, Cincinnati Festival), to Italy, to – in 1883 – Britain. She was engaged by Carl Rosa, for whom she first appeared as Maritana (7 May). In the seven years that followed she led a highly successful career in Europe and the colonies … only to come to rest at the Savoy, aged 34, for this incomprehensible week of Gianetta. Amy continued to work as a vocalist into her fifties, before retiring to teaching. She had married the agent Hugo [Heinrich Ludwig] Görlitz (1854-1935), in New Zealand in 1878, and had by him a son, journalist [Hugo] Louis (1881-1978), and a daughter, Jeannette (Mrs Jolley, 1884-1936).

(13) Annie Schuberth [SCHUBERTH, Annie Elizabeth Sophia] (b Pimlico 1869), daughter of a Russian-born accountant, was not a novice when she played her little turn in The Gondoliers in July 1890. And she wasn’t Miss Schuberth, either. She had made her first stage appearance in a musical comedy The Beautiful Duchess at Templar Saxe’s concert in 1887, and in 1889 (19 June) she married the said gentleman, and bore him a son (I’m not sure in which order). After some concert experience, she then went on tour in the title-roles of the French musicals Pepita and Falka, and then joined Saxe (who was understudy to the leading lady) in the London cast of the Carl Rosa company’s Paul Jones, taking over the role created by Kate Cutler. And then she made her short stop-over at the Savoy. 
She went on to play Charlotte in La Cigale alongside Geraldine Ulmar, in Miss Decima, toured some more in the star roles of Pepita, Falka and La Cigale, played Marion in Poor Jonathan, Lolika in The Magic Opal … and got herself divorced by Saxe (Templer Edward Edeveian) for persistent adultery. They both remarried: Saxe whisked off to America where he became a cinema actor, while Annie wed (3 December 1895) an ageing Bradford lawyer and, after playing a while in Willie Edouin’s Qwong Hi, let her theatre career fizzle out while she had two more sons. However she re-emerged, in 1906, to play in the Manchester panto, and in 1910 and 1912, giving ‘I Dreamt I dwelt in Marble halls’ in the northern music halls. Husband Charles Law Atkinson died in 1916, and Annie, apparently, changed her name, not to Atkinson, but to 'Annie Hubert'…

(14) Lenore Snyder [SNYDER, Leonore] (b ?Indianapolis c1868; d Camden, London July 1911). Miss Snyder was raised, and doubtless born, in Indiana, the daughter of Frederick W Snyder (machinist) and his wife, Virginia née Ballenger (m 27 March 1867). The three can be seen in 1880 living at Brightwood, Indiana. She apparently sang, first, in the local Presbyterian church, and I see her performing with the Indianapolis Lyra Society in 1887. As an amateur, she took part in a local ‘opera’ called Maganon, and appeared as Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance, which led to a first professional engagement in 1889. She appeared for the Duff company in the title-role of Paola (played in Britain by Leonora Braham) and in the Chicago musical King Cole II, before being hired to deputise for Esther Palliser as Gianetta in New York’s Gondoliers. She subsequently sang the role on tour in Britain and, briefly, at the Savoy. In August 1890, she returned to America where she played in The Pirates of Penzance, The Red Hussar, Carmen, Dorothy, Iolanthe et al, before being recalled to Britain in place of Australia's Nellie Stewart, to create the lead role in The Nautch Girl and the revised Vicar of Bray. Back in America, she joined Harry Dixey for an attempt to float Mr Dobbs of New York, and there was more Patience, Iolanthe, The Sorcerer, The Mikado … The press judged her ‘irreproachably correct … and tame’. It was advertised that she was to go to Paris to study, it was reported that she had married American basso, William H MacLaughlin, and that she had returned to the stage in Dorothy Morton’s role in The Wizard of the Nile. But that seems to have been it. A professional career of impeccable credits, but seemingly less éclat. But there was a reason for its ending. Lenore retreated to Paris, and, in 1897, was reported to be seriously ill. Mrs Lenore [W] MacLaughlin died of tuberculosis and was interred at Camden cemetery 15 July 1911.

Well, that is the who. As to the why? We will never know. The Savoy would flounder its way through the unimpressive likes of Ellen Beach Yaw and Nancy McIntosh, and the novelty casting of Hungarian star Ilka Pálmay and noted opera singer Pauline Joran, to the stabler days of a Ruth Vincent, but never again would it devour fifteen prime donne – genuine and wannabe – in one leading role. Why did it happen? And who the hell was Alice Baldwin?

Thanks to David Stone and the g&s archive for most of the photos herein. Anybody got a Maud Holland?

PS Yes! George Low came up with a Maud photo, and also a replacement slip announcing Agnes Wyatt as Gianetta. He has also seen a programme with Decima Moore listed as Gianetta. Typo or fact? And who, then, played Casilda. Which would make 17 Gianettae. Except that he is dubious about Nellie Lawrence ...

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Och aye! I'm the Queen of the May!

While I was sipping my ginger tea this morning, prefatory to getting out into the garden on a lovely, summery day, I had cause to look up my notes on Jimmy Rae of the Soldene company. Which led to a dip into Olive Rae of the D'Oyly Carte company, which led to ... the discoveries were not tonitruant, but here, in any case, are the results for those who love Cartesian minutiae.

Fast backward to the original production of Merrie England. Those who have seen the show or (like me) been in it, will remember the little role of the May Queen. The personification of village beauty and a spare soprano. The role was played, during the run of the piece at the Savoy by two successive vocalists, Miss Joan Keddie from Dundee and Miss Olive Rae from Edinburgh. I don't think the Scottish nationalism of the part was intentional, but it remains a fact that merrie England's May Queen was a Scot.

The first of the two ladies was Miss Keddie:

KEDDIE, Joanna [Paterson] (b Dundee 1878; d Glasgow 12 August 1921). At her death, the local paper acclaimed her as 'one of the finest sopranos Dundee has ever produced'. Joan was one of the children of Robert Keddie 'of Dundee and Calcutta', manager of the Samnuggar Jute Factory, and his wife Agnes Mitchell Paterson, and she began he working life as a pupil teacher at a local school. She also began singing as a teenager, and after some time as a member of the St Mary's Church choir, under S C Hirst, was quickly promoted to soprano soloist with the Newport (Dundee) Choral Society. I see her singing in Smieton's Ariadne and in Theodora as early as 1898. In October 1900 she is still in Dundee, singing at the Kinnaird Hall with J W Turner and Constance Bellamy, then with Durward Lely and Marie Titiens, but at census time April 1901 she is in Sculcoates, playing 'a bridesmaid' in Musgrove's Belle of New York company and covering Margaret Douglas in the title-role. The local press had already announced her as hired for the tour of Florodora, and as being engaged at the Savoy Theatre or alternatively in the Carte touring company. I see her as 'a peasant girl' in the tour of The Emerald Isle. In 1902, Joan was hired for William Greet's production of Merrie England. Quite why she moved on I am not sure, but shortly afterwards (10 January 1903) she married a member of the Belle and Carte companies, baritone George Daniel Washington (MD HU USA). It does not appear to have been a durable marriage.

Her name does not appear on the London bills again, but she apparently covered Evie Greene as The Duchess of Dantzig (although Kitty Gordon and Elizabeth Firth succeeded the star), played Signorina Tasso in The Cingalee, and went on tour with The Talk of the Town before putting an end to a professional stage career and returning to Scotland, where she acted, henceforth, with the Dundee Comedy Club and sang with the local musical societies. In 1914, she appeared in Oh! Oh!! Delphine!!! for Eade Montefiore, but seems to have 'retired' definitively following a second marriage to James Taylor and the birth of a daughter.

If the career of Miss Keddie was brief, that of Olive Rae was even briefer:

RAE, Olive [Margaret] (b Madras, India c1878; d Edinburgh 1933) was another product of the Scotsman in India tribe, but not of the jute mills. Her parents were the Reverend George Milne Rae DD of Madras and his wife Janet née Gibb. Her first public appearances were in Oxford, her first in London was at the Salle Erard (27 February 1900) in a recital of her own ('fresh, clear soprano .. much taste .. great distinctness'). She appeared at the Steinway Hall and the Derby Temperance Hall with Sydney Poyser, with the Bath Orpheus Glee Society and in several other provincial venues before venturing on to the stage in Merrie England at the Savoy and on tour.

She went on to appear as Titania in The Princess of Kensington, Lady Violet in The Earl and the Girl and The Princess Whom He Married in Little Hans Anderson before returning to the concert platform (St Andrew's 1909) and life as a vicar's daughter. Unless she was the Olive Rae who played Doris Bartle in Peggy (1911) at the Gaiety Theatre ...
She died, unmarried, in 1933.

The tradition of a Scottish May Queen was not continued with. In 1951 the part was played by one Gladys Cooper and at Sadler's Wells by Ava June.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Bradford, 1857, or names on an operatic playbill

Yesterday, as I continued with The Big Tidy Up, I came upon this playbill. Well, most of it. As you can see, the banner is missing. But never mind, I know what it is. It is a bill from a season of opera presented at the Theatre Royal, Bradford in June 1857 by Henri Corri.

*Henri Augustus Corri was to go on to be a force in English opera, and also a staunch purveyor of good quality touring operatic companies, but this was an early effort and didn’t turn out quite so well. Corri had been playing at Drury Lane in the episodic English opera seasons staged there by Edward Tyrrell Smith – Devilshoof in The Bohemian Girl, Don Jose in Maritana, and the like. In between stints in London, the company was sent on the road with, again, the standard repertoire, as the ‘Drury Lane Opera Company’, featuring, from time to time, such artists as Elliot Galer, Fanny Reeves, Julia Harland, John Herberte, Oliver Summers and other hardies of the touring circuits. But on 7 April 1856, when the ‘Drury Lane’ company opened its new tour at Bradford, there was a difference: it was ‘under the management of Mr Henri Corri [and Mr Herberte]’. Much of the troupe was made up of members of the Corri family … Henri, brother *Eugene (b London, 23 October 1826; d London, 4 February 1870), sister Emma Jane (‘Emilie Adami’) (b Dublin x 27 December 1832) and her husband, Frederick Younge (b Barron Street 19 February 1825; d Brockley-Whins 6 December 1870) ... but the Corri family didn’t at this stage have a prima donna in its ranks, so the useful *Rosalia Lanza (b Grafton Street, Fitzroy Square, London 22 July 1818; d Islington, London May 1905) took the soprano leads, with *Herberte [GADSDEN, John Burnett] (b 273 Oxford Street, London, x 19 December 1819; d Somerset Street, Portland Square 12 September 1857) as first tenor.

This unpretentious group gave its Bohemian Girls and Maritanas, and such virtually three-handed pieces as La Sonnambula, L’Elisir d’Amore and The Daughter of the Regiment through the year, and then set out on a new round, again from Bradford. As per our playbill. With a new prima donna and a new tenor, much the same repertoire and … disaster. Henri had ‘forgotten’ to pay the royalties on his ‘cheap’ operas. He had ‘forgotten’ to pay May’s for the hire of the costumes. And I dare say he had forgotten to pay a few other bills as well, not to mention such tawdry things as wages. By December, he was declared bankrupt. But less than a year later he was a valuable member of the Pyne and Harrison company, and this little hiccough was all forgotten, as he soared up into the heights of the English operatic world.

I was about to put this playbill back in its drawer, when I had the whim to find out just who were the folk who made up this rather slim-line company with, I imagine, it’s bootstrap budget …

No problem with the ‘stars’. *Henry Manley (b St Martin’s in the Fields, London c 1819; d 27 Castle Rd., Holy Trinity, London 2 February 1891), who replaced ‘Herberte’ as lead tenor was a proven touring opera tenor who ran for a number of years a company of his own round number two dates, often with his brother *John Manley, who was a long-lived operatic comprimario. Marian Taylor [TAYLOR, Elizabeth Sophia] (b Cleaveland Street, Marylebone 24 February 1826; d Hammersmith 24 April 1886) was not exactly an operatic prima donna. Burlesque and musical comedy were more her style. But she was an attractive and vivacious performer who was game to attempt Norma and Leonora in Il Trovatore at least adequately. She was also, it was said, a pain in the pants. When Corri went bankrupt, she took over the management of the company and ran it through the festive season. For her reward, she found herself a lover amongst the company. They were both married … but that’s another convoluted story. She had a long and occasionally acrimonious career on both sides of the Atlantic, largely in burlesque, ultimately without a husband.

Brother Eugene was principal bass, seconded by another faithful comprimario, *Robert Morrow (b Preston, c 1822; d Malvern, 6 October 1867), brother in-law Fred Younge, an actor-who-sang-a-bit, was still there to play mostly-acting roles … and that leaves ‘Madame Villiers’, ‘Madame Roby’, ‘Mrs Montague’, ‘Miss Montague’, and the chorus players Messrs Beale, Belford and Henri.

Hmmm. ‘Villiers’? ‘Montague’? Sound very much like stage names, yes? Well, I uncovered the ladies and … one was, and the other wasn’t!

So let’s go with Madame Villiers:

SCHOTT, Rosa Antoinette [‘Madame Villiers’] (b Toronto, c 1834; d Glenart Tor Park, Torquay 20 October 1918)

Miss Schott made a promising start to a career, which marriage, motherhood and family concerns pushed in a rather disappointing direction.

Rosa Schott was a member of the well-known German family of musicians and publishers. Her father, Adam Joseph Schott (b Mainz 1794; d Poona 4 August 1864) occupied various places in the family business, but was latterly employed as a military bandmaster in various corners of the world. His wife, Teresa Rosa Ziegler was from Malta, and his children were born in America, Canada and Gibraltar before the Schotts came to rest in London, where father became bandmaster of the Grenadier Guards, sometime musical director of the Highbury Barn Tavern et al.

Rosa seems to have begun her career as a member of the company at the Surrey Theatre in mid-1854 where I see her singing Lisa in La Sonnambula and Pastorella in The Golden Branch. From there she moved to the Haymarket Theatre where I spot her, in plays and in musical roles, as Marian in Paul Pry, in The White Horse of the Peppers, The Nervous Man, The New Haymarket Spring Meeting, Love’s Martyrdom, A Daughter to Marry and then as Julia Mannering in Guy Mannering, Brightray in the pantomime The Butterfly’s Ball, The Postman’s Knock, et al.

At the same time, she appeared at the Crystal Palace (‘‘The Rose’ with her usual taste’) with the Cole sisters, and in oratorio at St Martin’s Hall (Reinthaler’s Jephtha and his Daughter with Clara Novello, Ann Banks, Bessie Palmer, Montem Smith, Lewis Thomas) … Miss Schott, it seemed, could do anything.

But then came the man. On 31 January 1856, Rosa married Mr Robert Edwin Villiers (b Somerset St 18 April 1830; d 8f Bickenhall Mansions, Gloucester Place 29 April 1904), a supporting member of the Haymarket troupe, and after a tour as seconda donna with Henri Corri’s doomed opera troupe, retired to produce Marie Therese (b 21 March 1857), Laura Fanny (5 May 1858), Edwin Adam (25 May 1859) and eventually Isaac (b 8 April 1863).

But Mr Villiers wasn’t content to be a supporting actor all his life. In 1860, he took on, initially in partnership with one Mr James F Tindall, the lease of the South London Music Hall and, on 22 December, the venue opened, with Mr Frank Raynor of Weston’s topbilled amongst the singers, and Mrs Villiers in small print. Also in the small print was her younger sister, Helena Cecilia. This was not a good idea. Helena was to turn out to be the poison in the pastry. But the South London Music Hall was a good idea, and Edwin Villiers a much better manager than he had been an actor. And Mrs Villiers was swiftly ‘the principal singer’ of his house singing everything from ballads (‘The Green trees whispered’, ‘When Maggie gangs awa’’) to a Rigoletto selection with Mr Raynor. Helena didn’t stay too long. Apparently lacking her sister’s vocal talents, she went off to become a well-regarded dramatic actress, who sang a bit, under the name of Helena Ernstone.

Helena Ernstone

Subsequently, Villiers introduced ‘comic duologues’ into his programme, and he and Rosa performed these with some success. Rosa even returned to the Haymarket briefly, to play Nelly in No Song, No Supper to much applause. But she did not take up again fully the career her marriage had interrupted.

In 1869, the South London was destroyed by fire, and Villiers moved on to running the Royal Hotel and Assembly Rooms in Margate. Through the 1870s, Mrs Villiers featured on some of the bills, took an annual Benefit, and her elder daughter, Marie also appeared as a vocalist.

But the tale was not destined to have a cosy ending. In 1877, Villiers, who had also taken over the famous Canterbury Hall, went bankrupt to the enormous tune of 60,000 pounds. But worse was to come. Little sister Helena had been weaving her nets, and had begun an affair with Villiers. Finally, in 1880, Rosa sued for divorce. In the 1881 census, Villiers and Helena (‘sister-in-law’) are living together in Marylebone.

That seems to have been the end of the London careers of both the sisters. Not so, Mr Villiers, who made himself respectable all over again, went on to launch the London Pavilion, and maintained a position at the top of the music-hall business to the end of the century.

Rosa lived much of her subsequent life with her widowed daughter, Laura, and Marie’s son Edward Angus Hill-Mitchelson. Marie (‘Miss Marie North’) was on the road with her actor-producer husband Edward Alfred [Hill] Mitchelson. Marie died in 1912, and her mother in 1918. Mr Hill-Mitchelson remarried and, keeping up the family trend, divorced two years later when his wife accused him of adultery with ‘at least two (female) members of the troupe)’. Helena, who had somehow amassed a nice wee nest egg, never married and died alone at The Chalet, New Road, Ferndown 2 July 1933.

Rosa’s son, Adam, was for a while (prior to divorce) married to the musical comedy and music-hall performer Emma Broughton, sister to the more famous Phyllis Broughton.

Emma Broughton

One down.

ROBY, Rosa Maria (née SOANE) (b Margate 5 July 1819; d Hackney November 1880) doesn’t appear much, that I can see, after this engagement, and the 1861 census shows us why. She is the wife of Henry Greatorex Roby ‘comedian and artist’, whom she married in 1855, and the mother of Ada M (4), Bernard Henry (3), Charles Montague (2), Louisa Agnes (4 months) … 28 June 1862 came Beatrice ...

Rosa was the daughter of the well-known playwright, librettist and adapter George Soane and his wife Agnes. She described herself in the census as ‘actress’, and it was her sister, Clara Agnes (1817-1898) who was the vocalist, appearing in 1848 at the famous London Wednesday concerts alongside Sims Reeves, *Miss Poole, the *Williamses and *Mrs Alexander Newton. I see what I assume is Rosa playing with Macready at the Manchester Theatre Royal in 1849, but in 1852, when she appeared as Ophelia at Leicester she was criticised for her ‘almost gigantic figure and stiff action’. Exeter, however, found her ‘an accomplished actress’. I notice that she played the part of Julia Mannering bereft of its usual music. Odd.

Two down.


‘Mrs Montague’. I got myself in deep here. For, no, it is not a veritable name, although some of the sort-of family historians, and even other theatrical writers would have us believe so. I got in deep, because there is more than one ‘Mrs Montague’, all actresses, related the one to the other, and all in some way connected with the Corri family! I started off chasing one Mrs M, then gradually came to realise that it was surely her sister-in-law I was after. Or not. And the story goes like this.

On 20 December 1814 a coach-joiner by the name of Daniel Gainey (1794-1869), from Kingston, married an apparently very young London lass by the name of Emmeline Maria Hetling (d 1865), and they settled at 10 Little Farmer Street, Tower Hamlets. Around about 1821, they, and their first child, moved to Aston, Warwickshire, and at the same time Daniel stopped joining coaches and he and his wife took to the stage. Daniel called himself ‘Henry Montague’ and his wife was ‘Emmeline Montague’. They had, by my count, five children in the 1820s, four of whom survived, all of whom went on the stage. Three of those eventually got wed into three of the most extensive theatrical families in Britain, so the ‘Montagues’ remain a footnote to the history of the Corris, the Cowells and most fashionably of all, the ‘Comptons’. They also used the same Christian names – Emmeline, Susan, Agnes, Henry – in all branches, called themselves Montague whether they were(ish) or not, and generally made it hard for me to sort them all out …

Since I was looking for ‘Mrs Montague’ (otherwise Gainey), I naturally went looking for the wife of the one surviving brother of the flock, William Stuart Frazier Gainey or Montague. And there she was. Actress. William married Sophia Leathley Cowell, niece of W H Murray of the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh, sister to the comedian Sam Cowell, in Cork 5 May 1845. They had two sons, both of whom died in Lambeth, in 1851, while William was working at the Surrey Theatre. After which, Sophia disappears, and William is apparently shacked up with Miss Alicia Woulds, sister of Mary Jane Woulds of the Bath Theatre, now the wife of the third Corri brother, Patrick. William would eventually marry Alicia after Sophia’s death in Yarmouth in 1858. So is this my Mrs Montague of 1857? Sophia? Or, more likely, Alicia? The Corri connection made it seem possible. But then I found another Corri connection.

The story of Daniel’s eldest daughter, Emmeline Catherine Gainey ka Montague (b Tower Hamlets, 1 November 1820; d Hastings 31 December 1910) is oft told. She married into the Mackenzie ka Compton family, and spawned a host of theatricals. Youngest daughter Susan Caroline Biancha (b Aston, 9 September 1829) seems to have dropped her spare names, and got wed in 1851 after a little career. Middle daughter, Agnes Louisa Mason Gainey (b Aston 13 July 1827; d Ashby de la Zouch 1906) took to the stage as Agnes Montague.

I first see her at the Theatre Royal, Manchester in October 1846 cast as Donaldbain to the Macbeth of Charles Pitt. Susan is baby Macduff, and Hecate is sung by … Patrick Corri. In 1847, Agnes is featured with Charles Kean and Mrs at the Theatre Royal, Dublin, in 1849 I spot her at Harrogate, in 1850 at Greenock and in 1851 playing Lady Anne to her father’s Richard III in Clitheroe. Back in Manchester, I see her in Timour the Tartar with a ‘Miss Montague’ who may be Susan, at Bury she is ‘sister of Emmeline’ and ‘of William’ and father is the stage manager (‘late of Bath’) of the local theatre. In 1854 she is at Derby and in 1855 Northampton and at Preston where she is now … Mrs Rupert Corri! But she then vanishes. So is it she who is ‘Mrs Montague’? In 1870 she is again ‘Agnes Montague’, with her husband at Rochdale …

And Miss S Montague, who can be spotted playing with the Bath amateurs in 1851? Is that Susan? The family lived long in Bath -- father actually became known as ‘Bath’ Montague -- where they seemingly traversed a few vicissitudes. In 1832 ‘The poor light comedian of Bath (Montague) for whose benefit Miss Jarman, Warde and Meadows performed gratutitously netted upwards of 200L which sum was immediately applied to the relief of the poor invalid and his necessitous family’. But in later days, when the family was aureoled with the exploits of the Comptons, granddad was referred to as ‘the great comedian’.

The extensions of the ‘Montague’ family are legion. I’ve explored most of them, and there are a few that do not fit. Not counting what appear to be the premarital child/children of William and Alicia. I have a spare Emmeline, a spare Henry Montague Gainey and family … but, never mind, the point of this exercise was to identify ‘Mrs Montague’ of the Corri company and the accompanying ‘Miss Montague’. Sophia? Alicia? Agnes? I think I will rule out Sophia as being unlikely to be involved with her husband’s mistress’s family company. Alicia? Well, Alicia was a harpist. But from there to playing the dramatic role of Meg Merrilees made famous by Charlotte Cushman … On the other hand, Agnes, the ‘tragedienne’, recently married into the Corri family …

Well, I put it to you, and I leaves it to you. But I think I favour Agnes.

And that just leaves Mr Beale, Mr Belford and Mr Henri. Mr Henri doesn’t convince me a lot. But Charles Beale was for real. At one stage, in the wake of the Corri bankruptcy, he was ephemerally listed as manager of the company. Mr Belford is evidently not the same chap of that name who played with Phelps at Sadler’s Wells, and then with Henry Marston … perhaps his brother?

I’ll put the bill back in its place now. It’s certainly provided me with a day and a half’s amusement and challenges. And it might encourage the family historians and others involved to correct the details of their fairly celebrated famil(ies) on Geni and Ancestry.com. Meanwhile, I’ll have one more go at working out who the ‘Emmeline Montague’ (b c 1852) who allegedly wed Tom Paulton (brother of the famous Harry) fits in, and where Henry Montague Gainey, husband of Mary Thornhill (married 1836) and father of Bessie Montague Gainey belongs, and which Henry it was who died 18 September 1877 …

* the artists thus marked have full-length biographies stored in my data base. I may get round to publishing them at some stage!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

PGB goes Jungle!

I’m repeating myself, I know. But I don’t very often go to the theatre now. I’ve hardly seen a new show (and not many remakes of old ones) in the last couple of decades that has given me anything like the sort of joy I used to find in ‘musicals’ (by whatever designated name) in the previous half-century. Too electrified, too amplified, too stultified, too trendy, too imitative, too camp, too second-hand …

However, when I do make the effort, I often seem to be rewarded in inverse proportion to the pretentiousness of the production.

Britain went through a period like this in the 1950s. When Roger N Hammerstein ruled the waves. And the answer came from the smaller theatres. The musical went back into those more intimate venues, where words and music could be heard without amplification: The Boy Friend, Salad Days, Valmouth etc. Well, I’ve said it all before … so I’ll jump straight to the point. These days, almost inevitably (and yes, there have been one or three exceptions), when I have a really good time at the theatre, it is in a ‘small’ show …

Charlotte Sweet

On Christmas Day 2018, alone with the twinkling lights and a gin, I chortled happily away listening to the delicious little Charlotte Sweet. I wanted an opera? Cavalleria rusticana is my all-time favourite. When in Berlin, I had a joyous time at the local music school with a really lively modern, burlesque fairystory musical Grimm!, far more beautiful than Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and back home in New Zealand I got involved in a concert version of a superb small-cast musical entitled Fairystories. Which wasn’t a burlesque and had nothing to do with Perrault or the Comtesse d’Aulnoy, but ... Well, why Fairystories hasn’t had a full-scale professional production (I’m tempted to say ‘yet’, and I’m also tempted!) I do not know but … well, listen to this

Ali Harper sings

I discovered Fairystories when I discovered its writer/composer. Paul Graham Brown. I went to sit in on a meeting at a gay caff off the Nollendorf-Strasse with a Dutch producer, and a Berlin entrepreneur who were planning a musical of Deep Throat. Well, it is no worse an idea than 75% of the musical 'adaptations' served up in the last 40 years. PGB was to be composer. Of course, it didn’t happen, but I got to know PGB and to listen to his produced (and a few unproduced) musicals. Notably a three-handed version of King Kong which is now into its eighteenth European production. I sat in on the auditions for his new piece Dynamite, and thought: why is this man’s stuff not produced outside central Europe? I voyaged into the German countryside to see a production of his many-years-before-Wildhorn Bonnie and Clyde. I voyaged to a place called Biedenkopf to see a musical written especially for the town’s festival and played on the ramparts of the local Schloss.

I still hum the secretively saucy song ‘Underneath’!. There have been annual new PGB pieces there, while he also had new, large-stage musicals played in Wiesbaden, in Hof … and our little show took place in Christchurch, NZ.

I read Fairystories for the first time, alone in a little beer garden in the Isle of Wight. I didn’t even notice my shandy was finished. At the big moment of the last scene I was horrified to find I was shivering and what … had a huge lump in my throat. If I were ever going to go into production … well, I didn’t, but our little showcase (featuring NZ’s top musical star) was a huge success with those folk … enough!

Needless to say, having discovered that rara avis, an outstanding young(ish) lyricist-composer (and even dramatist!), I wasn’t about to let go. So PGB and I have, since, become firm friends, and the little cottage at Gerolstein has, for the last few years, become the (Kurt) Gänzl and (Wendy) Williams Retreat for Productive Composers. Courtesy of Richard Marrett and his spare keyboard.

So, at midnight of the New Year 2019, Wendy ferried PGB from Christchurch airport to Gerolstein …

Yes, he’s here now. But after a day’s work at the keyboard, he’s down at the beach, so I can write this freely. I do NOT puff performers and writers who are friends. If I don’t like something they write, I tell them so and write nothing. This one, I'm writing about.

This year, CEO/librettist Birgit Simmler was headhunted from Biedenkopf to somewhere called Luisenburg. No, I don’t know more than approximately where it is. But, as in other German theatres the folk there are prolific in producing new works. PGB told me, last year, he was writing a new show for them. Like, what? A version of The Jungle Book. Not ANOTHER one? I have to admit, and I told him so stoutly, that yet another Disney remake was not at all what the world needed.

I should have known him, and Birgit, better. This morning he gave me a CD. OK, in the right mood now for a bit of Kipling… Well! this is NOT Disney….!!!! Yayy!!! Not even Lion King-type Disney. Which one might have feared. OK. It’s 70 minutes (today’s best attention length!) of stage show, with nine numbers and two tutti reprises, and it’s the most enormous fun! …

Firstly, the Luisenburg cast is quite superb. And the score, into which they dive with an enthusiasm wonderful to hear, gets yeoman service. 

Karsten Kenzel’s adorable Baloo, teaching babies and audience, is a joy … and rapping apes! … and on top of that they have a kosher Ravi Srinivasan on percussion … 

But my favourite, especially as sung by Inez Timmer, a mixture of Hermione Gingold and Kathleen Ferrier, is the snake’s song … much better than the Disney one ...

Damn. This is a grand, grand show! Five star fun for all ages.

I might even start going to the theatre again if they put up shows like this one.

He's home. OK, laddie, into that cottage and starting spinning straw into gold ..