Sunday, October 31, 2021

The Dodds of Randwick


Saw this today. Sydney, eh?  Why not investigate, I think ...

Daniel (1861-8 February 1951) and Maggie (1859-22 February 1934) Dodd.  Leamington, 22 Young Street, Randwick.

Daniel was born in Leamington, Warwickshire in 1861, the son of an elder Daniel, a labourer in the limepits, and his wife Barbara née Webb. Actually, she wasn't his official wife until Daniel jr was four years-old, but never mind.

Young Daniel also worked in the limepits, until at some stage in the 1880s he upped and off to Australia. There, he married Margaret Doherty in 1888. Margaret may have been locally born, of Irish stock. I know only that she had a sister Jane (Mrs William J Gooch), and a brother Michael ... both of whom lived in New South Wales. Chasing Dohertys is a pretty thankless task..!

It seems that Daniel worked on as a labourer, and later a carter. Margaret bore him six children, five of whom survived. They settled in Young Street, and there they would stay. I see that their home has been Shaynablazed in the 21st century, but it still retains some character, as does the neighbouring no24, into which the family expanded



The five children were
Seymour Michael (1890-1967)
[Marjorie] Eileen (1894-1939)
Annie Elizabeth (1897-1986) clerk
Caroline Ethel (1899-1985) dressmaker
Daniel John (1901-1895) gardener

The last three named remained single, and I imagine it was Annie who installed the gravemarker to her two siblings, and their parents, at South Coogee's Randwick General Cemetery.

If Annie, Caroline and Daniel had no issue, and I am not sure about Eileen (Mrs Charles J Chiswick), Seymour more than made up for them all. He had two wives, and a whole bunch of children ...

For the record, wife 1 was Matilda Victoria Mills (b 3 October 1880; d 6 March 1920), and three years later Seymour married Eileen Henshaw (d 15 June 1982) daughter of Thomas Henshaw and Eliza Farrell. Their children seem to have included a Peg, a Pat, John, Jean, Betty, Bill  ...

Unable to find more about the Dodd family, I scouted about to try to track down the Dohertys. Well, I found Jane's father-in-law: Charles Bonnet Gooch 'standard-bearer of the Veteran Soldiers Association', d Randwick, 1916) 'who served in the Crimeans and Chinese wars'. And a few graves full of Gooches. But the rest of the family ...?

Ah well, its dusktime ... so I'll change into my restaurant gear and head off for an apéritif ...

Hopefully a Doddlet or two will see this. 

Saturday, October 30, 2021


Getting reviews on a new book these days -- as opposed to 30 years ago, when each new book of mine got up to half a page in the quality press -- is hard yakka.  Getting a glorious review is almost the impossible dream. Getting that glorious notice in the world's Number One on-line website that deals with one's subject ....

Here is the notice which appeared this week on the site of the Operetta Research Centre ...

I think champage is called for...   oh .. iced rosé, yes, better in 30deg and 90% humidity ...


John Groves
Operetta Research Center
30 October, 2021

I feel very honoured and flattered to have been asked to write about the most important book to be written on the works of Gilbert and Sullivan, the “Savoy Operas” as they are known, for many years: Kurt Gänzl’s Gilbert and Sullivan: The Players and the Plays, published by SUNY Press.

The new “Gilbert & Sullivan: The Players and the Plays” by Kurt Gänzl. (Photo: SUNY Press)

Not only important, but utterly fascinating, thoroughly researched, as you would expect from this source, erudite, and a real pleasure to read! In fact what helps make this book so worthwhile is Kurt Gänzl’s prose style: informative, intimate, chatty but precise, almost as if he has written the book especially for you: indeed as if he is actually talking to you.

Stuffy and dry are two words that certainly do not apply to this book. In fact, I found it impossible to put down: having decided that I would ‘dip’ into the works that most interested me first, I quickly discovered, at 3 am, that I had just gone on reading. One of the real pleasures is Kurt’s use of English, and his invention or rare use of words such as “whyever” or “tenorious”. Perhaps these are used more in the Antipodes than they are in Europe!

Kurt Gänzl

The 298-page book is set out chronologically in fourteen chapters, one for each of the operas. The circumstances of the first production of each opera are laid out, so we learn, for example, that the character of Hebe in HMS Pinafore was almost expunged because Mrs Paul, who had successfully played Lady Sangazure in The Sorcerer, was very ill, and it was easier to almost obliterate the role rather than find someone else at short notice. Mrs Paul in fact died soon afterwards.

Rutland Barrington as Pooh Bah in “The Mikado,” 1885. (Photo: Herbert Rose Barraud, London)

This is followed by biographies of the principal actors/singers in the show. Some of course, are well known to Savoyards, such as George Grossmith and Rutland Barrington, as they reappeared in the cast lists of future productions, but most, such as Fred Clifton, who was The Notary in The Sorcerer, are almost unknown. He nearly became the Sergeant of Police in Pirates, but Barrington begged to play the role, and the rest, as they say, is history. Meanwhile Clifton became a bigamist and fled across the Atlantic where he died in 1903.

There is also a useful conclusion at the end of each chapter, telling us how successful the first run of the show was, and mentioning various cast changes.

Poster for a guest performance of “The Mikado” by the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company at Vienna’s Carltheater in 1887. (Photo: Theatermuseum Wien)

What is impressive is that the author has delved into chorus members as well as principal artistes so that the original bridesmaids and gentlemen of the jury in Trial By Jury are also given short biographies, where that has been possible, as well as those playing “The Ruddigorean Picture Gallery”.

Scene from the 1921 production of “Ruddigore” at the Princes Theater.

There has often been debate about whether “singers” or “actors” were hired by D’Oyly Carte for the original productions, the answer being both! Many were trained singers, often having honed their craft in Carl Rosa’s Opera Company, whereas some were actors who could sing or were simply ‘entertainers’. Most appeared in only one or two of Carte’s productions before moving on to other work, others worked for him for years, and not only in Gilbert and Sullivan but in other operettas, both in London and on tour.

I found the chapter on the genesis of Thespis particularly interesting, as it enlarges on what we know from Terence Rees’ book, and those on the last two Savoy Operas: Utopia Limited and The Grand Duke. Ilka Palmay who played Julia was a megastar in central Europe. Having sung Nanki Poo (!) in Berlin, she played in Der Vogelhändler at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, in German, where she was seen by Carte and offered a contract, not only in The Grand Duke, but also as Elsie Maynard in a revival of Yeomen, which must have been ‘interesting’!

A private photo of Ilka Palmay. (Photo: Rudolf Krziwanek / Theatermuseum Wien)

Are there any caveats? Well, the book is copiously illustrated, but if the paper had been of slightly better quality they might have reproduced rather more clearly, and the volume is bound by being stuck rather than sewn, which is obviously cheaper, but less long-lasting!

In addition, a few of the later original D’Oyly Carte artistes made recordings in the very early 1900s. Some of these were issued on primitive LP transfers by Pearl and it would be interesting to be able to hear them again on, for example, a Truesound CD, so that we can remind ourselves of the style 100 and more years ago!

Impressario Richard D’Oyly Carte (l.) with Gilbert & Sullivan.

In conclusion, I cannot recommend this book too highly. It is something that everyone interested in Gilbert and Sullivan should have, as it greatly expands knowledge of the work of these two men of the theatre – plus, of course, Richard D’Oyly Carte himself.

It is also very reader friendly!


Operetta recording of the year: LA FILLE DE MADAME ANGOT from Bru Zane

Once upon a time, not so very long ago a young lady radio or TV 'interviewer' asked me 'what was my favourite musical?'. She was clearly expecting me to reply Les Misérables or The Phantom of the Opéra. I was mean. I told the truth.  La Fille de Madame Angot, I said.

I have, alas, never seen it on stage. And then it probably wouldn't live up to the dream production with Desclauzas or Soldene as Lange that has lived half a century in my mind. But, suffice it to say that this 'opéra-comique' has a big place in my musical heart.

Paola Marié and Victor Capoul in an American production

Here's what I wrote about it in my Musical Theatre on Record: 


'La Fille de Madame Angot is not one of those works that merely throws up two or three popular pieces from a score that is otherwise just pleasant. It is a finely constructed series of comedy, drama and musical pieces, solos and ensembles, in which every scene is dramatically substantial and every musical section both significant and delightful' before going on to find, of the recordings then available 'all the virtues don't find themselves on the same recording' and opting for the Pathé selections recording with Solange Michel, Michel Dens and a wonderful Clairette in Lina Dachary.


Well, before I go any further with my niceties and niggles, I am straight away going to say that this new recording is now the standard reference.


No, it's not utterly perfect, but ...  it's the best.  


You're expecting me to go straight to the singers, ar'n't you?  I usually do. No. My biggest bouquet goes the conductor, Sébastien Rouland, who kept the whole thing so vivacious and up-tempo from the first notes of the delicious overture, through some magnificent finales, to the hilarious end. Tempi perfect throughout. Orchestra with a perfectly 'under-sized', theatre sound, and chorus .. well, they were a bit 'beautiful' in the opening scenes, but they got more oomph very quickly.


Ideal framework for an ideal performance?  Well, everyone has their preferences as to singers and performances. And I only knew (ie had seen, live) one of the artists in this cast. But, by and large, in my opinion ... the whole work is excellently and knowledgeably cast. 


Two performances are the equal of those of any of the stars of the past who have recorded this musical.  


Firstly, Artavazd Sargsyan as a simply wonderful Pomponnet. A delightful French-style tenorino, with just the right amount of character and humour. Definitely a Charles Burles for the 21st century. I hope we get to hear much more of him in the opéra-bouffe and opéra-comique repertoire.


The other triumph is the Clairette of Anne-Catherine Gillet. Once again, an absolute perfect encapsulation of the role and its music, from the sweet but never soppy 'Je vous dois tout' to the sparks of the Chanson Politique and 'Vous aviez fait de la dépense', and the ultimate catfight of the Quarrelling Duet, she hits every mood and moment dead right. And the voice simply sparkles.


Act I finale: Clairette arrested

Ange Pitou, here, is a tenor. Fine. Either tenor or baritone is OK. Baritone gives a little more contrast with Pomponnet. Baritenor is probably a good compromise. But the original, Mario Widmer,

was a tenor, so ...    Mathias Vidal is extremely effective in the role, especially when inter-acting with the other characters. I particularly liked his duet with Larivaudière (Matthieu Lécroart). Good tenors with the ability to play comedy are a rare commodity. There's one in France!

Ange Pitou

Henry Nordblom as Ange Pitou (London)

This is the place to say that the entire company gave their spoken lines with ice clear diction, one and all. Even though I (in lockdown) had to listen merely on the speakers of my computer, I didn't miss a line of dialogue.


In fact, the fourth principal of the cast, Véronique Gens (Lange) was so good in the acting bits that she, there, almost outshone a slightly uneven singing performance. Mdlle Gens I had seen before. 20 April 2013, as Agathe in a perfectly awful Der Freischütz at the Berlin Staatsoper. I then noted '[she] produced some beautiful gentle sounds, but ... also sang shiveringly out of tune'. Here, she was on a very, very much better day. She was at her best in the Quarrelling Duet and in such lively and characterful parts of the score as [the original] 'Raisonnons politique' (one of the crowning highlights of the disc). Somehow, the glorious Act II finale, swirling and rhythmique, didn't quite grab me as it usually does. Maybe too 'polite', too 'sung'. 

Mlle Lange

Tournez, tournez!

Let's just say that there are other Lange performances I have preferred. Some, in fact, too dominating, in what is, after all, a romantic triangle. And I think I do prefer a mezzo Lange -- a Suzanne Lafaye or a Solange Michel --, even though I know Desclauzas was (well, started off as), a soprano.

Marie Desclauzas as Lange

All the other players were à la hauteur of the occasion, notably a very fine Matthieu Lécroart as Larivaudière, in his thoroughly sung comic duets with Pitou and Pomponnet, and of course Flannan Obé in the traditionally scene-stealing role of Trénitz. 


I had forgotten that Amaranthe appeared quite so much in the course of the score, but what I have not forgotten is the performance of Mathilde Casadesus (on the Phillips selection) in the part. Ingrid Perruche sang the role nicely, and made an effort at the lustiness, but I missed the 'couilles' of Casadesus.

Emily Soldene as Lange

All in all, as I said: if not 'perfect' (but what is?), then pretty damned near!  And it will be on the front of my shelf as my Angot of reference from now on.  I am already playing it for the fifth time in three days ...


Yes, it's still my favourite musical ..

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Original Cast Photos ... Princess's Theatre, 1865

A few years back, I was thrilled to come upon (and blog) original cast photos from the 1860s and 1870s ..

Today, here are more.  From the hit Princess's Theatre production of Dion Boucicault's Arrah na pogue (1865)


The play opened 22 March, but these photos were not taken until May of the year ...

How do I know that?  Why, easy ...

Mr Edwards BA (Cantab) was the son of the vicar of Barrow-on-Trent, born November 1862, and educated at Leicester's Collegiate School and St Peter's College, Cambridge. He, however, turned, on graduation, to photography and, with his 'BA (Cantab)' glued prominently to his name in his advertisements and puff paragraphs, started a career as a society photographer with some volumes (Portraits of Men of Eminence) of cartes de visite of 'notables'.  Thackeray was a notable early victim.  

The venture into the theatre seems to have been a one off trick, and he returned to photographing worthy celebrities and aristocrats, and illustrating books by learned gents -- from the glaciers of the Bernese Oberland, to photos for a book on 'Shakespeare's birthplace', to the paintings in the royal collections.  He did not remain long at the address of 20 Baker Street, where these photos were taken. In 1870 he took up the French photo-method known as Heliotypography and improved it sufficiently to make it commercially viable. Soon after (1872), he quit England for America, where he lived (8th Street, Brooklyn) until his death in 1903.

Unfortunately he doesnt seem to have issued his Arrah-na-pogue photos with a key. Nor with a tally. How many were there in the set?  Here are some more ...

More recognisable, these ones. John Brougham (Colonel Bagenal O'Grady), Pattie Oliver (Fanny Power), Charles Seyton (Sergeant), Henry Vandenhoff (Beamish McCoul) ...

I think the lady in the top picture is playing the role of the crazy woman, here called Katty. If she is, she is not a woman. Katty was played by a Mr Andrews.

And the other lads? With the bulk-buy waistcoats. The 'chorus'. Messrs Reynolds, Dowling, Bentley, or even  J Andrews and Burke?  

The man with the satchel? David Fisher as 'the Secretary? Or Mr Chapman, the valet ...

So now we just need to dig up the stars of the affair -- Mr and Mrs Boucicault -- the villain, Dominick Murray -- and Fred Charles as Major Coffin. 

I'll keep my eyes open ...

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Mr Fall of Evandale, Tasmania .. or, I am related to Henry Russell!

This morning, I lit upon this photo of a nice old gentleman from Tasmania. Since it was labelled I thought I'd investigate a touch ...

Thomas FALL. Ah, Jewish? 


Well, it turned out that Mr Fall was really easy to find out a bit about. What was he? Why, a pubkeeper! But not just that. Since his arrival in Van Dieman's Land in the1830s he had indeed been landlord of several pubs -- the Portland Inn at Long Meadow, Magpie Hill, then the Patriot King William IV at Evandale and finally the Clarendon in the same town, where he remained for over 40 years. But Thomas was smart. I see, from 1836, him buying and/or leasing property in the Evandale area ...

Clarendon in 1915

Thomas married in Tasmania (12 February 1838), Miss Elizabeth  Russell, and they had two daughters: Elizabeth 1838-1931 and Kate (1842-1935, Mrs William Hartnoll). Mrs Fall died 19 October 1874, Thomas 4 September 1888. And the press gave him a fine obituary:

'The deceased gentleman will be greatly missed on the township, as he was a resident of 50 years. There were very few houses here when he came to make Evandale his home, he was a large property holder here and in Launceston, and having only had two in family, they are left well provided for. He arrived in the colony in the barque Portland in 1832 (sic), the late Mr and Mrs J. Cox, of Clarendon, being also amongst the passengers. The vessel, it will be remembered, was wrecked at the Fourteen Mile Bluff. The deceased succeeding in saving Mrs Cox from a watery grave, but her son was lost, the remains afterwards being interred at George Town. Mr Fall lost all he possessed by the wreck, but he commenced business in Launceston, and removed to Franklin Village, and finally settled at Evandale. After being in the colony a few years, he married a Miss Russell, cousin of Henry Russell, the celebrated composer and song writer. Although deceased had reached the age of 89 years, he could read without spectacles and write freely within a few days of his death. He never took an active part in politics, but was a shrewd observer and criticiser of passing events, and was charitable in his disposition.'

The wreck of the Portland (385 tons)? 1 October 1833. Had left Sydney (Captain: D G Coghill) 17 September. Councillor [William] James Cox was an Esq, MLC. And it wasn't a son, but an infant daughter who was drowned. Rebecca or Mary or Georgina. Oddly, though, the passenger list of those listed to sail, or those reported 'saved' doesn't include Mr Fall. 

Dr Charles Inches (ship's surgeon), Edward Lord, newly-wed John Samuel Uther, Miss Blandford, and Mrs Thompson with two children and servant, John MacMahon, Andrew Gallagher, John Davis, James Murray, John Murray, Michael Power, Henry Tully, John Stewart. Strange, that. The 50 horses, 30 cattle, and Mr Cox's collection of imported seeds and plants were all lost. The Launceston press seemed more worried about the goods, especially Mr Cox's 'nearly L1000 worth' and the cedar wood, than the people. But Tasmania should perhaps be glad that the 'seeds and plants' that Mr Cox was trying to 'introduce' to the island got drowned.

I don't see the 'everything' that Mr Fall was supposed to have lost on the manifest ... maybe the fifteen cases of claret? And anyway, part of the cargo was saved by the good ship Ann and brought ashore at Launceston and put up for sale ..

A letter being carried by the Portland from London was found on the beach ...

The legend of Thomas's (actual or imaginary) shipwreck went down in history, decorated with the usual historical improvements ...

But this little item suggests that the Portland had originated its voyage in England, in which case Thomas was only then, at over 30, emigrating ...  yes, there it is berthing at Sydney in June 1833, bearing the London papers up to Febuary 18th .. the ship Portland, Captain William Ascough, from Cork, with 184 male prisoners arrived [26 June] .. having sailed 21st February ... a convict ship? 'The guard consists of 29 rank and file of the 21st Fusiliers, accompanied by four women and 11 children under command of Captain Frazer of the 26th regiment. Passengers: Lieutenant Wallace 16th Reg, D A C G Brackenbury Esq, Mrs Brackenbury, Miss Brackenbury and Miss Fraser'. Still no Mr Fall. 'The ship touched at Lisbon -- three men died of cholera -- six more of other diseases ... carrying 'three free passengers'. Well, Mr Fall wasn't one of those.  The prisoners were offloaded at Sydney, so he wasn't one of those. Crew?  Soldier? But they soldiers surely got off when the convicts did ...

And Portland Head was thus named before the wreck. Ah! Journalism.

My first official sighting of him comes in 1837 ... tiens! I wonder if that's the same auctioneer Underwood who sold off the hulk of the Portland for L145.00.  Anyhow, he's taken up Mr Moore's business in cattle and horse trading, seemingly on the Perth Road ... 

Running a sales yard? But by October he's at the Portland Inn ... and on his way, as a wheeler-dealer publican ..

And he is married. Cousin of Henry Russell? Really? THE great Henry Russell of 'Cheer Boys Cheer' and 'The Maniac' fame?  Well, yes, he was Jewish ...  from Sheerness in Kent. Born 1812. Elizabeth was born in 1804 ... in Sheerness ..?  Well, damme, it's true!  Henry was the son of Moses Russell, and Elizabeth was the daughter of Moses's brother Philip  ..  blow me down!  And oh dear ...

Geni says Catherine Keila [Uri Feiss] Russell is your great uncle's brother's wife's sister's ex-husband's uncle's wife's brother's wife's second cousin's wife's first cousin's husband's grandmother. Catherine was Elizabeth's mother.

So, I'm infintesimally related by a network of Jewish (and occasionally not) marriages to ... Henry Russell!  Well, to Thomas Fall, too, but  .. Henry Russell!

Dr Fritz Eduard Ganzl   (father)

Rudolfine Josefine Ganzl  (his mother)

Hermine Maria (Minna) Stojetz  

her sister



Richard Michael Stern  

her husband


Ing. Joseph Stern  

his brother



Margarethe Grete Stern  
his wife



Stefanie Fleischner - Füchsl  
her sister



Otto Fleischner  
her ex-husband



Max Fleischner  
his father


Moritz Fleischner  
his brother



Adele Fleischner  
his wife



Dr. Friedrich Gans  
her brother



Emily Gans  
his wife



Catherine Spier  
her mother



Hannah Hyam  
her mother


Frances Myers  
her sister



Mitchell Myers  
her son



George Myers  
his son



Sarah Myers  
his wife



Elizabeth Solomon  
her mother


Rachel Abrahams  
her sister



Elizabeth Russell  
her daughter



Joseph Russell  
her husband



Michael John Russell,  
his father

Catherine Keila Uri Feiss / Russell  

his mother

No one seems to have said where Thomas came from. That trip (or not) on the Sydney to Tasmania Portland is his 'first appearance'. But he was undoubtedly from England, and there is one thus named who seems to fit the bill and, indeed who has been claimed on Familysearch.  He was the first-born son of Thomas Fall (Coventry 25 December 1776), from Warwickshire, and his wife Johanna née Archer, and he was christened in Coventry in November 1799. Round about that time, the family moved to Southwark, where Johanna produced a run of further children, of whom two other sons survived infancy, before dying of dropsy in 1812, at the age of 33.  Father Fall remarried, and his second wife, seemingly Elizabeth née Gunn, gave him several more children. It was a large, sprawling family of which some remnants can be seen at 22 Charles Street, Stepney, in 1851: Thomas, baker, two unmarried daughters (Joanna and Elizabeth), and two nephews ... but it all gets rather muddly in 1853 when Thomas Fall (baker) son of Edward Fall (carpenter), marries this Johanna Fall, (1817-1883) daughter of Thomas Fall (carpenter) ... 
By then, of course, our Thomas was at the other end of the world. 

I see that in 1838 his assigned convict servant, Frederick Bond, had his transportation extended by three years for stealing .. a roll of ribbon?!

Here he is in the early 1840s ...

and forty years later

End of story. What other (very) distant relations shall I find ...

But did he or didnt he sail on the last voyage of the Portland ... what do you think?