Friday, September 6, 2019

Mostly Singers ... a very eclectic 19th century portrait gallery ..

For the past umpteen years, I've been saving photographs, engravings, illustrations of all kinds that 'may come in handy for a book or an article' one day. For years, these were saved in the bottom drawers of my cabinet, then as computers developed, I stored them in folders on my Apple Mac. Half-heartedly backed -up. Well, fate and a dish of Dorper lambjuice washed that lot away ... so where do I save nice pictures now? Answer came there: on your blog, of course. So. It's tidy my desk-top day, and I am putting here, without very much chat ... some pretties from recent weeks ..

Firstly, Particularly Nice Photos of Well-Known Performers ...

Zélie Trebelli, celebrated at London's Italian opera for many, many years in the mezzo-soprano roles of the classic repertoire. When Carmen came along, she had a good crack at that: like Marie Roze (and unlike Hauck, Soldene and Dolaro) a genuinely French Carmen (right name, Gillebert) even though Her Majesty's Theatre played the opera in Italian. She was, a while, married to the tenor Bettini, and was then billed as Trebelli-Bettini.

Sofia Scalchi was another famed mezzo-contralto, who appeared widely and with the best (but also, occasionally, not quite the best) ... I've never seen such an attractive photo of her. To be kept.

The memorable Louisa Pyne (see Victorian Vocalists). Nearly always, we get pictures of her stout and squat and of an age. Here she is, young ...

And the equally memorable Euphrosyne Parepa. The other soprano who sparked a never-to-be-forgotten English opera company. Her later pictures are, indeed, much stouter than Louisa's. This is a slim one ..

And the great John Parry ... full-length biography to be found in my Victorian Vocalists ...

At the other end of the musical scale there was the little lady who called herself 'Lotta'. Lotta specialised in cute ingenues and little girls, and made herself into a durable American touring star. She is remembered now for being 'the richest woman in the American theatre' .. not, it should be added from her theatrical efforts, but from her husband's expert handling of her finances. This phot shows me (at last) the lady's attraction!

There are many, many photographs of Florence ('Jack') St John (Maggie Grieg), at all stages of her career. But this music-cover shows her in a slightly different light. It's a piece of music from the comic opera Les Manteaux Noirs, a re-set version of the libretto of Giralda, which had a considerable run round Britain and the colonies .. I thought I had all these, but I hadn't seen this one before.

'Jack' was a fine singer, a huge popular favourite, and her affair and sometime marriage with the actor-singer Claude Marius featured largely in the gossips of the time.

Les Manteaux noirs

And here's a nice picture of 'Kate Santley' ...

And one more German American ...  Erminie .. Pauline Hall (née Schmidgall)

Across the channel to a, nowadays, unduly forgotten prima donna. Noémi de Roissi (Levéville) was actually born in Ajaccio, Corsica, at a date which I have pinned down at 1818. She appeared, over a quarter of a century, all round Europe, but was particularly successful in Italy.

Also, from France, came this pair of star dancers. He is Louis Mérante, long a danseur étoile in the main houses of Paris, she is Emma Livry, whose meteoric career was ended young, when she was burned to death backstage ...

Also, from France, Mdlle Pauline Luigini, the original Clairette of the famous La Fille de Madame Angot

And the original Manon of Massenet, Marie Heilbron[n]

The lovely Jeanne Granier (see Encyclopaedia of the Musical Theatre) ...

And, rather less familiar, Noémie Marcus, who visited England to play Lydia in Fatinita, if I recall ...

And finally, from France, Mademoiselle Emma. I know, who has the faintest idea (except maybe MM Keck and Yon) who Mlle Emma was. Usually, it was danseuses who took on names of the ilk, but Emma was, it seems, a singer. A member of the troupe at the Théâtre des Variétés where I am sure I have spotted her ... but now can't refind her. I'll keep looking.

While I'm back in time, here is a baritone 'of charm'. Gian Battista Ciabatta made a solid career as a Victorian vocalist, more in the concert room than on the stage. He made much of his career in England, as a performer and teacher (I've documented him in a five-page article), but apparently the latter career was handicapped by the fact that the mammas of those little girls who required a music-master found him 'too handsome'.

To Austria, and to one of the greatest stars of the German-language operetta stage, Anna Grobecker. She too, was photographed endlessly, by I should dearly love to know what roles she is portraying in these photos ..  put aside for further investigation .. Orestes, perhaps? And ... who wears a carpet and stripey bloomers?

And now, an 'operetta' singer of a different ilk. Alfred Kelleher was an Anglo-Irish tenor in the days when the English word 'operetta' meant 'a little opera'. A 1-act, drawing-room style piece of little pretensions. He and his wife, Susie Galton, specialised in performances of the kind, latterly in America, where they were deemed a pretty classy act. When he was, of course, a little younger than this.

A little more modern, now. A couple of late Victorian (plus) vocalists.

I was happy to find this charming photo of New Zealand soprano Rosina Buckman. When I was in my pre-teens, one of my prized possessions was a leatherbound copy of Kobbé. I didn't dream that, thirty years later, I would be called upon by the Bodley Head to compile the companion musical-theatre/operetta volume! Anyway, the photos in that edition were pretty awful, especially the one of Miss Buckman as Cio Cio San. I felt sure that she couldn't have been as fat and unprepossessing as she seemed there! Well, now I know she wasn't ...

And one from Australia. Ada Crossley seems like an old friend: she appeared so much in my volumes on Emily Soldene: in search of a singer. Another contralto ... but strictly for the concert room, this one!

And a couple a little less famed.  I've passed the bass Mr Ffrangon Davies many a time in my research, but never paused to include him in my thousand. All I remember of him, is an anecdote in which he complained to his agent because another (and renowned) bass on his books was being 'given all the good jobs'. How frustrating. For the agent.

And Madame Emily Squire. I'm not sure why the Madame. Emily was just about to make it to my thousand, all researched and ready to write, when the Dorper lambjuice intervened. So, Sorry Emily, no article (unless my old back-up in NZ can help), but I was pleased to find this photo ..  Um, perhaps I do see why 'Madame' ...

There! That's a 'housework' morning! Nice tidy desktop ... except ... Lydia? Why are YOU there ... oh, well, all right ... come on, my lovely ....

Late additions. Hurrah! At last a pretty picture of the grand Blanche Cole, instead of that very plain one which turns up everywhere ..

And here's a curiosity. Madame Léonce of the Bouffes-Parisiens. Did I even know there WAS a Madame Léonce? I suppose it is quite in the run of things that there should be ... anyway, here she is, firmly labelled as such. I shall have to look into that ..

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