Tuesday, August 30, 2022

CARMEN: or Soldiers and Sevill-ians


In 1880 American producer Mike Leavitt -- known largely for his rather louche girlie shows -- tried to upmarket a tad.  He imported a troupe of players from England to play an imported burlesque (by Frank W Green, music arranged Frank Musgrave) on Carmen. 

It was a pretty fair troupe. To play Carmen, he hired the original English-language star of the opera, Selina "Dolly" Dolaro. Exerienced and popular Marie Williams was Don Jose, Fanny Wentworth was Zuniga, Minnie Marshall and Camille d'Elmar of the Soldene company, dancer Daisy Ramsden, Alma Stanley as a statuesque Captain of the Guards, Adelaide Praeger from the Praeger family, plus a few comedians for Escamillo, Remendado, Dancairo and Micaela ... and a horde of dancing girls for the ballets and tranformation scenes...

Here is one of them. Miss Annie Dunscombe. I know absolutely nothing about her, before or after this engagement, I do not know whether she was really Miss Dunscombe or sailing under a nom de théâtre ... but she seemingly had time -- in the 24 performances the show survived at Haverly's 14th Street Theatre, to have her photo taken in her Spanish costume ...

Leavitt's show was a flop. The company switched to La Fille du tambour-major and fizzled out. I really, didn't expect to come across a photo of from their Carmen ...

Here are some of the other participants in this benighted production ... others may turn up, you never know. But I really wrote this blogpost to save the mysterious Miss Dunscombe ...

"Dolly" Dolaro

Marie Williams

Alma Stanley

Fanny Wentworth

Saturday, August 27, 2022

A very modest Victorian Vocalist


When I began my series of articles on Victorian Vocalists I did so, largely for my own pleasure and instruction, with a set of criteria in mind. I was not going to write about the international megastars of the era, who have had entire books and biographies written about them. Where was the point? I was going to reseach and write not only about the less well-known people, but about Thomasina, Richard and Harriet whose lives and careers hadn't been heretofore recorded, but who made up an essential part of the Victorian music world. The bottom of the pyramid. Thus, my articles range from 40 pages, down to one page. 

Today is a one-pager, and I must admit that, until this week, I had never really noticed her. Most probably passed her by thinking the Madame Riechelmann was just another German, popped over for the London season of 1881 ... 

But she wasn't. She was thoroughly British. Born in Morice Town, near Plymouth, in Devon.

Mary Susanna CREWE (b Morice Town 10 November 1849; d Harrogate 29 May 1922) was the daughter of a seafaring man, Frederick William Crewe, and his wife Mary née Williams. From Plymouth, they and their family moved to St Helier, Jersey, and, it seems, at some time to that other maritime centre, Malta. And, there, Mary jr was married and her first child born. And where, allegedly, she started singing.

Her huband was a musician from Hamburg. Or Homburg. His name was Karl Franz Riechelmann and their son Fritz was born in 1873. Followed by three daughters. Around 1880, the family removed to England and 26 November 1881 Mary made what seems to have been her first London appearance at the Crystal Palace. She sang a couple of veriest chestnuts: 'The Last Rose of Summer' and 'Ob die Wolke' but more adventurously an aria from Salvatore Rosa. The Crystal Palace concerts were not as grand as they sound. The afternoon sessions were used to feature vocalists mostly never heard before, and mostly never again. But it was a start.

Over the years that followed, I see Mary twice or thrice annually at venues like the South Parade Pier, Portsmuth, Kensington Town Hall, The People's Palace, at a Hospital Benefit which boasted Santley at the top of it bill and even at Kuhe's 1885 concert, with Sims Reeves, Trebelli, Hersee and Lloyd. Singing now, not operatic music, but the popular ballads of the day ('Daddy', 'The Better Land', Star of Bethlehem', Song of Ruth). But mostly it was lesser dates - Llandudno, Hastings' Clarence Pier, with the Red Hungarian Band, the odd Exhibition. The most substantial engagement seems to have been at Northampton Town Hall, where she sang in The Woman of Samaria with Emily Foxcroft, A L Fryer and Henry Cross; the most popular at St Neots, to where she returned for a number of years.

Her notices were never bad. Her voice was described as 'sweet' and 'rich', as she continued on into the 1890s, making her living as a singing teacher (101 Shirland Rd). She seems however to have continued, some of the time, without a husband. Charles Reichelmann apparently retuned to Malta at some stage. He can be spotted there in 1909 ... His daughter's marriage certificate of 1911 says he is 'deceased'. So, by then, maybe he was. Whether the family went too, I knew not. But somebody else has looked into the family and here are a lot of the answers. They've got Mary's name wrong, but, hey ..

In 1890, I see Mary singing with the Nonconformist Choir Union, in amateur comapny, back at the Crystal Palace, for the Welsh Church at St James's Hall, at the Portsmouth Town Hall Saturday pops (she had seemingly gone back to living with her parents in St Helier), at Oxford, Ilfracombe, at Steinway Hall for one Anna Biesener, and finally at Exeter Hall (27 October 1894), which had been taken by one Canon McCormick to display his lecture on the the Siege of Derry.

Mary's son, Fritz Ludwig Crewe (1873-  m Grace Mary Colley) also went into the singing teaching world for a while. Daughter Renee Henrietta (1877-1885) died aged 8. The surviving daughters were Anna May (Mrs David Thomas Rose 11 May 1875; ), Elsa Ida (Mrs Howes-Howell of Durban 1879-) , Melita Mary (Mrs William Nixon, 24 June 1881-Worthing 31 March 1952) , Dorothy Emily (Mrs Müller, Mrs John Tetley 3 April 1887; 3 January 1975).

One more Victorian vocalist. My first Maltese?

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

MY DINNER-AND-A-SHOW DATE FOR 2022: the best yet

I don't go out at night any more. Not what I mean by "go out". Dinner and a show type of "go out". That all came to an end when my stint in Berlin, reviewing its operatic and musical entertainments, came to an end, some years ago. There is no underground railway in Christchurch, driving by day is a trial and by night a nightmare, climbing stairs is purgatory, and aged bladders take fright at exaggerated sound systems. So, no go.

I don't really mind. I've been there and done that most of my life, Wendy's home cooking is better than anything available in restos round this area, and the mostly over-amplified and usually witless shows of this era I can live without. 

But there is one exception to that rule. Each year my dear, long-time friend, Richard Marrett (yes, THE Richard Marrett) comes in his latest limousine, picks me up, and drives me to town for Dinner-and-a-Show. There have been some mediocre dinners, and some very mediocre shows, through the years, but what the hell! It's a cherished annual Occasion! 

So, what to go to see? The local professional theatre, the Court, has a chequered record with musicals. They did good productions of GREASE and CHICAGO, and last year a nice LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, but I simply do not want to see a trashed-up MIKADO or a twee WIND IN THE WILLOWS.  Actually, the NASDA student companies do better stuff. Their SPRING AWAKENING, MUSIC MAN, CITY OF ANGELS and ONCE ON THIS ISLAND were much more to my taste than any Court musical I have seen. If you don't count Ali Harper's TELL ME ON A SUNDAY. Well, the Court is to regale Christchurchians this year with what I count as one of the most pitiful musicals of recent decades, RENT. So, no visit to the Court for Kurt this year. 

There is also an enthusiastic amateur group. But, alas, it has tumbled into a consortium sharing exaggerated physical productions of big musicals with half the towns in the country. So nothing adventurous, nothing original, and oh my Lord, tired old compilation shows such as BUDDY! So, I don't go the their shows, either. BUT ....    amateur? professional? ...  who cares, class will out, and tonight it did so in an unexpectedly dazzling manner.

Knowing that I wouldn't get my Xmas musical-with-Marrett (he's conducting both RENT and the amateurs' nationwide MATILDA) I have been hopefully keeping my eye open for a delicious event ..

Boing! What is this? Ali Harper as Desirée in A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC? It can't be? How? Where? An independent small-scale production. Great. All for small-scale productions. Which is what this show really is. The production was apparently COVID-crushed at the same time that I was crushed and was now revived being for four performances at the venue called The Piano. Ummmm ... a favourite show, a favourite actress ... Richard? This is our opportunity ...!

So Richard skived off MATILDA rehearsals, jumped into his amazing white Teslar and, at 5pm, rolled through the gates of Gerolstein. Our Dinner-and-a-show 2022 was on (electric) wheels.

We started off superbly with the first resto meal I have eaten in central Christchurch for ... how many years, decades ...   Well, things have come on a bit since the days of 'The Swiss Châlet'. We went to a fun-looking place a few doors from the 'theatre'. 'Casa Publica'.  South American food. Oh dear. I'm not really a fan of tacos and tortillas! WRONG. I had a delicious 'Peruvian' ceviche, and we shared the house speciality ... a big skewer of dangling meat with yummy semoule ... and they even served dry sherry. Oh dear, if I have a second, will I need to pee in the middle of the first act!  Meal 10/10 .. lead me back!

On to the theatre. Goodness, I was expecting a room with chairs around it. The Piano is a splendid venue of ?350-400 raked seats ... I get the feeling it is largely intended to be a concert venue .. and as such it would surely be the best in town. It reminded me of the London Purcell Room. I also get the feeling that it would be best for un-amplified performances. Tonight's amplification was delicately (and unneccessarily?) done, but there were still some blurts, and the xylophone/harp effect from the orchestra occasionally drowned the singers. Yes, you are going to find tiny niggles throughout this report. I was always told by my editors not to write unmitigated raves. 

Open stage, very basic scenery (who cares about scenery?), with the Armfeldt mansion at the rear and a series of screens allowing quick and efficient scene changes.

And we began. The quintet sounded absolutely super, if a little loud (which damages the cohesion). Where did they get those voices from? Where are they when I go to other productions in our area? Splendid! However, by the end of the evening, I had got tired of the five external 'people' twirling and whirling around the stage. Most LNMs I have seen have had the singers as a shadowy group of narrators on the edges of the stage, not interfering with the main action. A choir of disembodied voices. Well, these voices were so fine, that I put up with the tweaking gowns and and the parading. But, busy, busy ... du calme, mes enfants! 

Well, I won't go through the piece item by item. Most of the numbers (and the dialogue) were sung and played as well as in most international and fully professional productions I have seen.

Ali Harper, acknowledged as 'New Zealand's National Treasure', more than confirmed that crown as Desirée. I have seen Taina Elg (lovely!) and Jean Simmons as Desirée. Ms Harper has wiped away all those memories ... in Christchurch, NZ???? Am I doing the provincial gush? (The Titipu Players production was much better than Broadway's ..')  No, I am not. I don't. This was a performance of choice that wouldn't be out of place on any stage on the world. Her last lines of 'Send in the Clowns', beautifully lit and dressed, were gobsmacking. Her by-play behind Fredrik Egermann in 'You Must Meet My Wife' was a masterly piece of understated acting ... well, enough. I have gone into ecstasies over this lassie's performances before ... but this is her best ever.

Her Fredrik was Jonathan Densem. And he was delightful. His wry, twinkling, gently humorous performance was right on the button, and his vocals were (for me) just the right weight. An 'easy' performer is such a joy. When he came on 'dying' I was reminded of Cullum in ON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY ... now there's a next project for Enchanting Productions!

It is possible to come out of an LNM performance remembering only the Big Bits. For me, the biggest Bit of the whole show is the Soon/Now/Later trio. And tonight it got a grand performance ... with, it seemed to me, some unfamiliar pauses between the elements. 

The other two participants, with Fredrik, in that trio were Ann and Henrik, the two most difficut roles to cast in this show. Well, the Christchurch NZ semi-pros got it soooooooo right.  My previous Henriks have been young boys cast for the top note and lots of Angst. Here we had a Henrik (Alex McHugh) who looked as if puberty was past and now pressingly painful, a young man not a boy, who negotiated the high notes unoperatically and super-effectively and ... he actually played the 'cello!!!!!  Oh! Hallelujah!

And what to say of Ann (Katie Atkins). A perfectly clear soprano voice (one or two blurts I blame on the sound system) a perfect teenage appearance, an enthusiastic acting performance ... This young lady has a future. But once again .. du calme, when you are playing a small house xxxx

Elsewhere, Amanda Atlas gave a richly vocal and incisive acting performance which lifted the role of Countess Charlotte (who can appear an awful wimp) into a prominence I've never known it to have before. I see she is an experienced opera singer. I'd love to see her as Countess Palmatica in Bettelstudent! Total joy. 

Jane Keller took the important role of Madame Armfeldt. Ms Keller is, I see, a noted singing teacher. So we didn't get a Hermione Gingold grunted-rather-than-sung performance .. to my delight we got a magnificent deep contralto, bang-on-the-note performance. 

I am no judge of Carl-Magnuses. The role was created in New York by my dear friend Larry Guittard and I can't see past that. It, too, is a hard role, for Carl-Magnus is a fairly one-dimensional creature. John Bayne looked every inch the dragoon, strutted the part well and sang lustily.

Catherine Hay gave Petra's song with a fine voice, which didn't quite erase memories of Geraldine Turner in Australia, 100 years ago, Maddie Glossop was grand and unaffected in the key role of Fredrika ...

Come on, criticise. Remember no gush. Direction (Louise Glossop) straightforward and clean, the way I prefer it. No gimmicks. Choreography (we need choreography in LNM?) a bit clichéd .. when will we banish straight lines? Jason Carr's fine re-orchestration for a band of five (hello, Jason!), precise musical direction ... Criticise? OK.

A little too loud, a little too 'busy' -- we are dealing with a musical with WORDS and they mustn't be obfuscated by external elements and trifling taffeta ... 

I'm not grumbling. You only take the trouble to pick-a-little over details when the production is worth it.  And this one is worth it in spades. This was a truly splendid night in the theatre ... hopefully the magical folk behind Enchanting Productions will give us more of the kind ... and hopefully this production will have a future ... it deserves one more than anything I've seen in New Zealand since ... well, since Ali Harper's TELL ME ON A SUNDAY.

O heck, it's 2.15am ....  time to come down off my cloud. G'night all.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

A glorious family album c1864: Dowie and Michell


From time to time, one comes upon a collection of family photos (not my family) which are for sale on ebay, not as a collection but individually. Sad to split up a collection with connections, but ...   Occasionally, I try to stick them back together again and preserve them here. Especially when I find a bundle like the one that will follow, where the vendor has had the kindness and feeling to state which items come from the same source. Thank you puzzlepixie 

These photos are labelled as relations (?) of one David Dowie.  Mr Dowie (b Camberley 7 November 1832; d Tunbridge Wells 4 October 1886) was a well-off gentleman, the son of a Scottish merchant, James Dowie and his wife, Lilias née McAndrew. 1 October 1865 he married Jane Michell, eldest daughter of a Steyning brewer, farmer and coal merchant, George Michell (1811-1888) ... and here begin our photographs. For George had five surviving daughters and two sons ...

Here is George himself 

This is 'old Mrs Michell of Steyning'. George's wife, Eliza née Westwood, died 5 December 1859. 1859?  She was only 48. And rather pre-photograph. Could this be George's mother? Yes, Mary née Turner died 22 November 1869.

This is no 1 daughter Jane, Mrs Dowie (b Steyning 7 December 1837; d Hastings 3 January 1887)

This is daughter no 2, Bertha (b Sudbury 10 December 1840; d Hove 3 April 1917)

no3 Catherine (b Steyning 14 May 1844; d Hove 28 Februay 1929)

no 4 Margaret (b Steyning 30 April 1846; d Blackheath 11 December 1915)

no 5 Alice Mary (b Steyning 1 November 1847; d Steyning 5 November 1930)

We also have a photo of the youngest child, and second son, George Burgess Michell (b Steyning 18 June 1852; d Hove 22 December 1929) ... he looks about ten or twelve here, which would help date the photo for us ..

We know that the photos date from post 1861, when George's elder brother, Edward Westwood Michell (b Sudbury 2 July 1839; d Steyning 30 August 1861) died, aged 22. And-pre the death of old Mary in 1869. Which places these, I think, 1864.

George Michell's family tree had, from its six twigs, three caduque branches. Bertha, Catherine and Alice Mary remained unmarried. But sisters Jane and Margaret married in a double wedding ..

And if Jane had but one child (Alice Evelyn, Mrs Hutchins), Margaret had no less than ten (and Mr Camroux a few bankruptcies), and George four (wife: Edith Rosina Edghill).  But that generation doesn't seem to make it to the collection, not even Alice Dowie (d Southsea 26 June 1941) ...

So, I leave the Michells and search elsewhere in the collection. Dowies, obviously. Siblings. Brother James Dowie (1828-1897)? Sisters Mary Gray Dowie (1828-1910) and Lilias Dowie (1830-1892)?

OK. Here's Mary. Married the Revd Henry Paul Measor 29 August 1854, vicar of Kingston on Thames. One daughter. He died  December 1866, and she remarried (8 August 1869) the widowed Henry Smith JP of the Hall, Ellingham (1834-1910). One son.

Mrs Measor. Here she is ..

And wot! 'Mrs Dowie, mother of James, mother of James, Mrs Measor, Mrs Christy and David'.  So this is Lilas McAndrew! Brilliant. Er ... Mrs Christy is evidently sister Lilias.

Here's the vicar of Kingston

and here his successor as husband to Miss Dowie

Lillias (Mrs Joseph Fell Christy)

and Mr Christy

And, ah! Some little Christys! Ethel (1863-1906) and Amy (1860-1918)


And lastly brother James (b Camberwell; d 1 April 1897). James became an army contractor, married Mary Ellen Bischoff (b Hackney 1838; Guildford 10 March 1913) ...

Here she is!

And James

and, apparently, both of them, playing chess, with ... kibbitzers

and this I guess is David himself ...

It's a splendid family album. All of those  photos are from the very stem of the family tree c1864.

But there are more photos in the bundle. Even the odd Dowie ... Kenneth and wife and daughter, Jessie, all from Liverpool. Don't know where he fits in, but will look .. 

Mrs Winter, baby Winter, Mabel Winter

Reverend Bayley and Jane

Reverend J Trocker

Miss Kirkland (seems to have something to do with James and Aylesbury)

Mr and Mrs Cawson

Jane Whittington 'father's sister'

enough for one day ... cocktail and laZboy time ...

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

J T Dalton: the Soldene baritone to whom Fate was unkind.


Ethan Crenson's folder of photos gave forth another treasure, to set alongside Ada Moxon. Another sometime member of the Soldene troupe whom the archives and libraries of the world had failed to render up to me ..

This is James Totty Dalton. Born 18 January 1846 at the schoolhouse, Penn School, Lower Penn, Wombourne, Staffs. He was born at the schoolhouse because his father, James Totty Dalton sr (1812-1874), was the resident teacher. His mother was Mary Ann née Woolley.

Tracing his early career is a little difficult, as there were a number of 'Mr Dalton's circulating in the mid-1860s. There was one at the Philharmonic Music Hall sing tenor in operatic selections with such well-known folk as Charlotte Grosvenor, Grace Armytage and Orlando Christian and a certain Mr McDavitt, whose beauteous daughter would travel across the world with Emily Soldene.  Then there's one acting at the Surrey soon after, but I think he is a Henry Dalton, one at Lyceum with Fechter and Vestvali, one with Ryder at the Haymarket ... is he any of these? My guess is, 'no'. For when he provenly comes into play, he is very much a chorus and tiny bit player. Perhaps the James Dalton of the Kensington Park Amateur Dramatic?

When John Hollingshead opened the Gaiety Theatre at Christmas 1868, he engaged a small group of utility players to carry spears, sing choruses, speak the occasional line, understudy etc. Mr Hollingshead knew his oats: among the original groupe were Irishman William Ledwidge (later to find fame as Wm Ludwig, operatic bass) and the fine acting tenor William Terrott. Was J T Dalton an original? I don't see him on a programme until February 1870 when he appeared in The Waterman at a semi-pro matinee. Thereafter, he appears on the programmes in small parts in Aladdin the Second, The Quaker (Farmer Easy), Barbe-Bleue (secretary), Cinderella the Younger (first porter). And he married. 'Maggie Harrison' (recte: Margaret James from Glamorgan) was a dancer in the Gaiety company and but 19 years old.

When the company visited the Crystal Palace with a repertoire of operettas and a pantomime at Christmas 1871, JT was Orchobrand in Ali Baba. During 1872 he fulfilled his functions at the Gaiety in everything from Arrah na Pogue to The Critic, and got his chance in the occasional matinee (The Wager).

In February 1873 Hollinshead sent out a seven-month Gaiety tour, headed by Annie Tremaine and Dick Beverley, and JT (as he was now billed to avoid an homonymity with the character in The Ticket of Leave Man) rose up the cast lists in Barbe-Bleue, La Grande-Duchesse (Puck), Les Brigands (Barbavano) et al. He returned to the Gaiety (Snae Fell) but was soon out on the road again, and remained at the Gaiety until the end of 1873.

Apprenticeship done, he joined Mrs Liston's La Fille de Madame Angot playing Larivaudière, and Jonathan Plupersson in Les Cent Vierges, toured with Joseph Eldred's company and Alfred Young's company as Larivaudière and as Grabuge in Geneviève de Brabant, which roles he repeated the following year the something called the 'Premiere Company' before being summmoned to the Phil for another round of Larivaudière. In 1876, he appeared in the comic opera Pom at the Royalty, before his favourite role hoisted him to the classiest Angot of them all: star Emily Soldene.

He would pretty surely have become a regular Soldene player. He completed her 1876 tour and in November travelled to America with her. Maggie's final illness led him to withdraw mid-tour. She died 9 August 1877 in Cleveland, Ohio.

JT joined a Strakosh Company touring in Canada. and 27 August 1877 joined fellow Englishmen 'Ellis Ryse' and Brookhouse Bowler to make up the Holman Family Troupe, performing opéra-bouffe and comic opera. The Holman productions were decidedly tailored to suit the company, and when he appeared as Corcoran in HMS Pinafore, alongside Sallie Holman, the dramatis personae included someone named Auntie Petite. And 2 July 1879 he married the company's star, Miss S Holman (b 23 June 1849; d 8 June 1888). The following year she, too, fell prey to consumption, and had to leave the stage for much of the next five years.

JT played with the Grayson Opera Compant (Pinafore 'on real water', Pippo in La Mascotte), and with a Haverley troupe (Colonel in Patience ) before in 1883 the Holman's 'reorganised' and produced a musical comedy named Bubbles and a musical version of Uncle Tom's Cabin in which he played St Claire. Then in 1886 at Le Roy, NY he fell down some stairs 'in the dark' and broke his collarbone. The company disbanded. And then Sallie died.

Over the next few years, he took the odd jobs in summer season, and around London, Ontario, where what was left of the Holman family resided, but turned to teaching music up till his death in 1901.

It had been a personal life with many a trial, and a professional life which had effectively fizzled out, largely for family reasons. Who knows what might have been the lot of James Totty Dalton had he been able to continue on to Australia and back to England with the Soldene company. Alas, poor Totty.

Saturday, August 13, 2022

ADA UNCOVERED! or the postscripta of publication.

When you have spent more than twenty years researching and writing a book, when you have lived and breathed the life of your biographee day in, and day out, trudged round the world from library to library, and to ephemera shops from Hampstead to Hokitika to Hitchin, I think you have a right to be proud of the vast, thickly-illustrated, 1500 pages that are the result. It's done. No one could ever do it more doggedly, in more (primary-sourced) detail, I thought ...

Then someone invented the Internet.

And, as I hav'n't stopped investigating anything and everything relating to the lady who was my companion for so many years, while I research the lives and works of many of her theatre contemporaries ... comes a time, fifteen years on, when you come upon something and sigh 'bugger, I could have done with that snippet, or with that photo' for the Book. It's not that I've made errors (as far as I know) but things that, 20-30 years ago, I dubbed unsolvable, I have now solved and occasionally a treasure turns up.

Well, my newest treasure is named Ethan Crenson. He lives in the US of A. And he is a great x 2 or 3 grandson of the splendid Charley Campbell, Emily's leading man. Ethan has got quite a bit of Charley's Nachlaße and he has ever so kindly shared it with me. And allowed me to use it. I used his photo of the man himself (original cast of Trial by Jury) in my last book ..

and yesterday he sent me some more pictures from a mostly unidentified folder ... I went off like a train-whistle.

Emily's 'tour of the world', one of the highlights of her career and an historical undertaking, started out from England.

3 November 1876 her troupe set out from Liverpool with an effective including femininely herself, one soprano, one sister, one wardrobe mistress and ten chorus girls/bit part players/dancers/etc. And an intermittent feature dancer.

Well, the book (Volume I) includes photos of soprano 'Rose Stella', of sister 'Clara Vesey', of principal dancer 'Florence Slater' (who married the conductor), of the glamorous 'Cissie Durrant' who married Heaps of Money, of Eugenie Nicholson (Mrs Charles Campbell), Julia Barber ('wife' of the stage manager), Nellie Beaumont and Marie Ferrara. Which left me with Ada Moxon, Una Brooke and Annie St George (wife of a male chorister). Others, such as Alice Norton (photo got) were temporary additions. But the main changes came when, after a July season in San Francisco, the company set out for Australia. Eugenie went home, the Americans stayed in America, and two locals, Ella LeFevre and Mattie Daniel (photo got) topped up the chorus.

So, Moxon, Brooke, St George, Le Fevre. Four needed to make up the set.

From today it's three. Amongst the better-known portraits -- from Emily herself to Elsie Cameron (affectionately inscribed) -- was one seemingly labelled ADA MORON. Gotcha girl! After 30 years ..

Having such a beautiful picture, I thought she deserved a new effort at 'identification', so I dove into the bowels of the Internet ... nothing. Then I checked my decades-old notes. Boy, I was thorough in those days!  And I found what I was after. 'Ada' stayed in Australia, and in 1883 married what I now know was a fellow supporting operatic performer, George Ernest Haswell, of Liverpool. 

Ada, herself, was no Ada. She was Elizabeth Moxon TOMLINSON, born Leeds 16 April 1849, 
daughter of painter John Hirst Tomlinson (d 16 May 1877) and his wife Rebecca née Simpson 'of North Cave'. I see that in the 1871 census she was already listing herself as 'actress', but she doesn't appear in my periscope till she joins Emily in 1876. She remained with the Soldene company throughout the whole of the tour, but when Emily returned to Britain, she -- like several others of the company -- stayed in Australia. She played with George Musgrove's company in a series of comic operas between 1880 and 1883, there met and married Haswell, and then joined Emelie Melville's troupe, playing 'as cast' in an even wider repertoire of pieces (Patience, La Mascotte, Fatinitza, The Royal Middy, La Périchole, The Pirates of Penzance, HMS Pinafore, La Belle Hélène, Giroflé-Girofla, Maritana, La Fille de Madame Angot, Madame Favart, Olivette) in Australia and a hectic and too often financially fatal tour from Calcutta and Bombay to China, Japan, Manila as the company took on various shapes, sizes and managements. The shoestring affair lasted, however, some four years, but the papers reported that Ada and George had 'got away' and were playing with a Mikado company in America. I see the couple next playing with the company headed by Florence Seymour and Willie Walshe (1889), and then with the Montague-Turner combination, and when Soldene tried again, too late, to play Sydney again, Ada was in the chorus (1892). She also played small parts in the George Walton season which replaced that production (Mrs Dingle in Skipped by the Light of the Moon). My last sighting of her is in 1894, playing the character part of the Marchioness in Maritana and Sally Fox in Martha with Montague and Turner. Her husband is the Alcade and 'a servant'. And then I lose her.

I assume that the George Ernest Haswell (how many of them can there be?) who set up as a merchant in Auckland in 1896 is our George. If it is, he had a wife named Ada Forgie who died in childbirth in 1904. So I suppose our Ada has gone. Ah! Is she the Ada wife of George E Haswell who died 15 June 1902 'buried at Purewa'?  George lived in Auckland for the rest of his life and died there 2 September 1922. 

Her grave says she was 50. Well, a little more!  RIP Ada. Now maybe I should have a go at Una?

Blogger me!

Here's Una!

Nestling in the collection of my old chum John Culme ...!

Unfortunately I don't know her story. She became a Soldene chorine as early as 1873 and fulfilled five years as a step-out girl with Emily's companies. She stayed in Australia after the end of the enterprise in 1878, and worked steadily with all the important managements for the next five years, after which I see her no more. She made the news -- or the gossip pages -- only once that I can see, when she and Fanny Morrell got involved somehow (or alternatively) with the young manager, George Musgrove (1881) during the record-breaking production of La Fille du Tambour-major. Since Una was still working with Musgrove and Williamson in 1883, I imagine there was no harm done.

Una never got beyond step-outs, but she was much liked, and in 1912 (25 August) when the Sydney Sun featured a group of stage beauties of the past, there was a grainy picture of Una! 

So, where did she come from? Where did she go? Who was she? I'm not there yet!