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Article

Roland J. Vázquez

(b Portugal, 1836; d Madrid, May 21, 1886). Spanish impresario, actor and singer. He first became popular in comic roles at theTeatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid. In 1866 he formed his own company, the Bufos Madrileños, modelled on Offenbach’s Bouffes-Parisiens. It was an instant success. By ...

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Gerald Bordman

(b Portsmouth, NH, Nov 14, 1833; d Jamaica Plains, MA, Dec 16, 1917). American actor and singer. He began performing in amateur theatricals and concerts while working as a clerk in a dry-goods store. He became professional in 1865 but did not gain widespread recognition until he was recruited by the ...

Article

Bertil H. van Boer

(b Stockholm, Aug 10, 1757; d Vaxhälla, March 17, 1810). Swedish actor, singer and librettist . He made his début as an actor as Count Almaviva in Beaumarchais’ play Le barbier de Séville in 1785 at the New Swedish Theatre, where he became well known for his comic roles and original opera librettos, mostly written for Carl Stenborg’s comic opera. In ...

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Charles Haywood

(b Flushing, NY, Oct 22, 1854; d Philadelphia, May 5, 1911). American minstrel performer and songwriter. He was educated in Washington, DC, where he enrolled in the law department of Howard University and was deeply moved by the spirituals and the rhythm and harmony of the work songs of labourers on the university campus. He learnt to play the banjo, taught himself the rudiments of harmony and began composing songs. He organized musical groups and performed at various social functions, where he soon became known as a versatile entertainer. He found the perfect outlet for his musical and theatrical talents in the minstrel show and joined the Original Black Diamonds of Boston as a leading performer in ...

Article

Anne Dhu McLucas

(b England, June 19, 1782; d Leeds, June 19, 1822). English actor, composer and arranger. He was active in Philadelphia, New York and Boston from 1805 to 1822. He went to Philadelphia in 1805 as a member of Warren and Reinagle’s theatre company, and also acted in Charleston, New York, Richmond and Baltimore. In ...

Article

William Brooks and Deniz Ertan

(b Dublin, Ireland, May 9, 1810; d New York, NY, June 7, 1880). Playwright and comic actor of Irish birth. Most of his comedies used music extensively. Brougham was active in London during 1830–42 where he wrote his first play (a burlesque) in ...

Article

Sandra Jean Graham

(b Baltimore, MD, 20/Nov 30, 1820/1823; d Philadelphia, PA, June 4, 1874). American minstrel. His stage debut was in Philadelphia c1837. By spring 1840 he had teamed with dan Emmett , singing and dancing in blackface for the Cincinnati Circus Company. In ...

Article

(b Troy, NY, 1833; d New York, April 10, 1875). American minstrel performer and manager. He began as a performer in the late 1840s, and made his first New York appearance with Charley White’s Serenaders in 1851. From 1852 to 1854 he and his brother Jerry performed with Wood’s Minstrels in New York, and late in the ...

Article

R. Allen Lott

(b Galway, Ireland, May 9, 1817; d New York, NY, Jan 19, 1902). American violinist and actor of Irish birth. He had a sensational career as a child actor, making his debut in Dublin in 1824. He appeared with equal facility in comedy and tragedy, played the violin, and sang. As “Master Burke the Irish Roscius” he first appeared on the American stage on ...

Article

Richard Langham Smith

(b Strasbourg, June 22, 1852; d Paris, Dec 12, 1938). French theatre and opera administrator, director, actor and librettist. Carré had studied drama at the Paris Conservatoire and had a successful career as an actor before becoming co-director of various Paris theatres: first the Vaudeville, and later the Théâtre Libre and the Comédie-Française. He soon left the Vaudeville to become director of the theatre in Nancy. Carré’s main contribution to operatic history was made as director of the Opéra-Comique, a post which he held from ...

Article

Jonas Westover

(b Temuco, Chile, Oct 11, 1876; d Seattle, Jan 31, 1968). American baritone, vaudevillian, and actor of Chilean birth. He is best known for being the first Native American to perform starring roles at the Metropolitan Opera. He was a member of the Araucanian tribe in South America, and it was there that he learned European styles of singing and acting. Just when he came to the United States to perform on the vaudeville stage is unknown, but he eventually ended up on the Chautauqua circuit, performing across the country. His debut at the Metropolitan was on ...

Article

Colin Mackerras

(b Anhui, Nov 22, 1811; d Beijing, Jan 24, 1880). Chinese opera actor. He went to Beijing early in life and earned a living selling musical instruments before taking up a career on the stage. Although his first public appearance was a failure he later became famous through a brilliant performance at a private banquet attended by many of Beijing’s most eminent citizens. By ...

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Robert Stevenson

(b Palmyra, NY, Nov 6, 1827; d New York, May 12, 1868). American minstrel performer. He changed his family name of Harrington after joining (as a jig dancer) the troupe of his stepfather, Edwin Pearce Christy, at Buffalo in 1842. He appeared with Christy’s Minstrels in New York from ...

Article

Robert B. Winans

(b Pawtucket, RI, July 27, 1829; d New York, NY, Feb 14, 1908). American minstrel performer. He ran away from home to join a circus in 1845, and first gained prominence with Matt Peel’s Minstrels in the mid-1850s, when he was a great success in the blackface role of “Old Bob Ridley,” performing the song of the same name. He became particularly noted for his impersonations of older black men. He achieved great fame as a minstrel performer in the 1860s and 1870s, sometimes in companies bearing his own name, and worked primarily in New York, San Francisco, and Chicago. Toward the end of his career, he played character parts in popular plays, including ...

Article

Gerald Bordman

(b Stanstead, Quebec, ?1860; d Boston, MA, Sept 22, 1948). American actor and singer of Canadian birth. He was brought up in Vermont, and later moved to St. Paul, where he studied singing. He achieved fame when he joined the Bostonians, particularly for his performance as Will Scarlet in the operetta ...

Article

Alina Nowak-Romanowicz and Barbara Chmara-Żackiewicz

(b Sokołów, Małopolski, Jan 26, 1789; d Rudna, nr Warsaw, Dec 15, 1852). Polish composer and actor. From 1809 to 1812 he was a clarinettist, trombonist and military bandmaster, and from 1813 a singer and actor, first in Vilnius and then in Warsaw. There he began to compose, writing music for the stage, including 40 comic operas and burlesques, 16 melodramas and three operas. He was a composer without any high artistic aspirations. His output is not of great value, particularly as in his stage works he pandered to popular taste, though there are reminiscences of Mozart and Rossini operas known in Warsaw at the time, as well as folk melodies. His best-known work was the ballet ...

Article

Gerald Bordman

(b Boston, MA, Jan 6, 1859; d Atlantic City, NJ, Feb 25, 1943). American comedian and singer. Following his debut in Under the Gaslight in his hometown at the age of ten, he came under the tutelage of the pantomimist James S. Maffitt. Dixey’s New York debut role was half of the heifer in the Manhattan premiere of E.E. Rice’s popular musical burlesque ...

Article

Robert B. Winans

(b 1808; d New Orleans, 1861). American minstrel performer. He was most famous for his entr’acte performances of Coal Black Rose, the first blackface comic lovesong, and Long Tailed Blue, the first song of the black dandy; both of these song types later became standard in the minstrel show, and both songs are in a simple musical style that was thought (mistakenly) to represent African American music. Dixon claimed authorship of these songs (and, less credibly, of ...

Article

Robert B. Winans and Jonas Westover

(b Hartford, CT, Aug 7, 1856; d New York, NY, Oct 26, 1924). American minstrel performer and manager. He began his career as an amateur in Hartford in 1873, where he performed as a blackface song and dance man; he appeared with prominent minstrel organizations and with his own troupes. Between ...

Article

Ellen Marie Peck

(b New York, NY, Jan 28, 1880; d New York, Jan 4, 1928). American lyricist, librettist, and actress. Born into a theatrical family, she spent her entire life in the theater. A meticulous actress, Donnelly was particularly known for her ability to interpret a role with depth and sensitivity at a rather young age, as she demonstrated with title roles in ...