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Sylvia Stoner-Hawkins

(b Forestville, NY, Jan 25, 1887; d Miami Beach, FL, Jan 31, 1995). American stage director, producer, playwright, and actor. During a 92-year career in the theater Abbott influenced the development of musical comedy and helped launch many important careers. He made his Broadway acting debut in 1913 and continued to act during the 1920s. He also began working as both a playwright and director. After his first hit, The Fall Guy, Abbott began to write and stage fast-paced melodramas. In 1932 he co-produced a farce called 20th Century; it was in this genre that he defined a fast-paced theatrical style that became known as the Abbott Touch. He was the leading director of musical comedies. Abbott also wrote the books for On your Toes (1936), The Boys from Syracuse (1938), and Pal Joey (1940), the scores of which were composed by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. In ...

Article

Mikaela Minga

[Antoniu, Christache]

(b Bucharest, Romania, Dec 25, 1907; d Tirana, Albania, March 17, 1979). Tenor, actor, and stage director. He studied at the Mimodramatic High School of Bucharest and then in Rome, with M. Polverosi. In Romania, he had a successful career as an actor and singer. He was in the movie industry in the 1920s and early 30s, playing in more than 15 films, including Ciocoii (1931), Iancu Jianu, (1928), and Maiorul Mura (1927). In the meantime, he worked in the Alhambra theater as a singer and stage director of operettas. In the mid 1930s, Antoniu moved to Albania and pursued a singing career. He made only one cinematic appearance in 1943, for the short film documentary Takimi në liqen (‘Meeting at the Lake’). He was a dramatic tenor, with a baritone quality in his voice. This led him to explore a large range of operatic characters from both the Western opera repertory and the Albanian one. He performed and recorded Albanian traditional or folk songs, handled with an operatic vocal posture and arranged with western harmonies. His son, Gjergj Antoniu was a prominent Albanian cellist....

Article

Roland J. Vázquez

(de)

(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 1870 he had begun a second company in Barcelona. In addition to operettas by Offenbach and Lecocq, Arderíus staged new works by Spanish composers, including F. A. Barbieri and P. J. E. Arrieta.The dance routines and brief costumes of the female chorus were indispensable to the appeal of the Bufos, and were among the features that incited critics to condemn the genre as frivolous and a hindrance to the development of serious opera in Spanish. By the beginning of 1873 the company’s popularity had ended, and Arderíus had become director at the Teatro de la Zarzuela. Thereafter he championed the cause of national opera, attempting, without success, to launch a Spanish opera series in ...

Article

Saadalla Agha Al-Kalaa

(b al-Qrayya, Syria, Oct 18, 1915; d Beirut, Dec 26, 1974). Syrian singer, composer, ‘ūd player and film actor and producer. In 1924 political circumstances forced his family to move to Egypt. His mother, the noted singer ‘Aliyya al-Munther, taught him singing in the Syrian style. He studied the ‘ūd (lute) at the Cairo Institute for Arab Music. His professional work began as an ‘ūd player and singer at the national radio station and in Badī ‘a Maṣabnī's variety show saloon.

In 1941, through his sister Asmahān , he entered the cinema industry, and for the rest of his life was involved in films as a composer, singer actor, and producer. His singing of Syrian mawwāl (popular songs), tangos and rumbas achieved great popularity, and his work laid the foundations for Arab variety show films, cinematic operetta, orchestral musical overtures and comic and sad songs. His 31 films are mostly autobiographical and provide valuable insight into the role of the musician in society....

Article

Curtis Price

revised by Margaret Laurie

(b London, 1635; d London, April 28, 1710). English actor, manager and opera director. Generally regarded as the greatest English actor before Garrick, he played a key role in the invention of Semi-opera. In 1668 he became co-manager of the Duke's Company, which was already featuring plays with musical interludes, many of them set by Matthew Locke. In 1671 the troupe moved into the new Dorset Garden Theatre, specially equipped with the machines necessary for opera. Betterton visited Paris to study stagecraft and may have seen the famed comédies-ballets of Lully and Molière. He then produced a series of musical extravaganzas, or semi-operas: adaptations of Shakespeare's Macbeth (1673, music by Locke) and The Tempest (1674, music by Locke, Humfrey and others), Thomas Shadwell's Psyche (1675, music by Locke) and Charles Davenant's Circe (1677, music by John Banister (i)). In addition to coordinating the production and devising the scenery, Betterton often acted the protagonists, roles that never required singing....

Article

Barbara Chmara-Żackiewicz

(b Glinno, nr Poznań, April 9, 1757; d Warsaw, July 23, 1829). Polish impresario, librettist, actor and singer. He was a central figure in the history of the Polish theatre. He studied in Kraków (1770–73), where he attended many theatrical and concert performances organized by Sierakowski, prompting him to change the direction of his career away from the army and towards the theatre. He probably completed his studies at the Piarist school in Warsaw. For a few months during 1778 he studied acting with L. Montbrun, a Warsaw theatrical impresario. Soon afterwards he made his début as an actor in N.T. Barthé’s comedy Zmyślona niewierność (‘Imaginary Infidelity’), and on 11 July 1778 as a singer and librettist in the première of Maciej Kamieński’s opera Poverty made Happy. In 1783 he became the director of the National Theatre in Warsaw, remaining in this position (with some breaks) until ...

Article

Peter Branscombe

(b ? Moravia or Upper Austria, ?1740s; d Aachen, bur. Aug 7, 1792). Austrian theatre manager, actor and singer. He was engaged at Brünn (now Brno) in 1770, from the autumn of that year as director of the troupe. For long periods he toured in Austria, southern Germany and the Rhineland. In early summer 1776 he directed an opera season at the Kärntnertortheater, Vienna, in collaboration with Noverre: 14 works were given, almost all of them Singspiel adaptations of French operettas, many of which later became standard fare in Vienna. He was Joseph II’s original choice as producer for the new National Singspiel company, but his appointment was frustrated. However, he and his wife (Maria Anna [Marianne]; née Jacobs) appeared in his translation of the Sedaine-Monsigny Rose et Colas at the Burgtheater on 9 May 1778 and were with the company for the remainder of the season; their daughters appeared in minor roles....

Article

Jonas Westover

[Salvatore Phillip]

(b Detroit, MI, Feb 16, 1935; d South Lake Tahoe, CA, Jan 5, 1998). American singer, composer, producer, actor, and politician. Bono began his career as a composer; one of his first songs, “Things You Do To Me,” was recorded by Sam Cooke in 1957–8. He eventually made contact with Phil Spector, with whom he worked closely for several years. One of his first successes came in 1963, when his song “Needles and Pins” (co-written with Jack Nitzsche) was recorded by Jackie DeShannon and reached number one on the charts in Canada. The height of his musical career came in the 1960s and 1970s as part of the duo Sonny and Cher. He wrote, produced, and performed on many of their hits, including “I Got You Babe” and “The Beat Goes On.” Success with Cher, to whom he was married from 1964 to 1975, led to many appearances on television, including ...

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 1854 season he formed Bryant and Mallory’s Minstrels with Ben Mallory. By this time he was being advertised as ‘the unapproachable Ethiopian comedian’. In February 1857 he formed Bryant’s Minstrels with his brothers Jerry and Neil. As a versatile and brilliant performer, Bryant quickly became a public idol; the troupe performed with great success in New York until Bryant’s death in 1875, and also toured in California and elsewhere in 1867–8. Bryant’s Minstrels excelled in the portrayal of black ‘plantation life’, marking a return to the classic type of minstrelsy of the 1840s; they were also innovators, placing a greater emphasis on burlesque skits. Bryant engaged Dan Emmett in ...

Article

Robert Howie

(Walter John)

(b Helensburgh, April 2, 1890; d London, Oct 20, 1957). Scottish actor, producer and director. After a disastrous début as a comic in music hall in Glasgow, he danced in West End musicals until he understudied, then replaced, Jack Hulbert in Tonight’s the Night (1915–17), in which he sang Kern’s ‘They didn’t believe me’. He established himself as a leading man, particularly in the revues of André Charlot, then starred with Gertrude Lawrence in A to Z (1921), introducing Ivor Novello’s ‘And her mother came too’. He also scored success in New York in two editions of Charlot’s London Revue (1924 and 1925). An ambitious and astute businessman, he produced Battling Butler (1922) as a vehicle for himself, and in 1926 brought Kern’s Sunny to the London Hippodrome, which became the home to a series of Buchanan productions. With Elsie Randolph he appeared in ...