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date: 02 December 2020

Simonsen, Martinlocked

  • Harold Love


(b Jan 30, 1830; d Melbourne, Nov 29, 1899). Australian impresario. A violinist of German-Jewish descent, he went to Australia in 1865 as a touring concert artist with his French wife Fannie (née Dehaes, 1835–96), a soprano. In 1866 the couple joined W. S. Lyster’s opera company, in which Fannie had great success as Sélika in L’Africaine and Martin a less shining stint as conductor. In 1876, after alternating for some years between Australia and Europe, the couple formed a touring opéra bouffe company whose chief production was Maillart’s Les dragons de Villars. When, after Lyster’s death in 1880, his successor George Musgrove withdrew from the promotion of grand opera, Simonsen seized the opportunity to recruit a large Italian company, which toured with great success in 1886–7. A second Simonsen Italian company (1888) was of lesser calibre. Depressed by encroaching deafness and blindness, he died by his own hand. Three of his daughters by Fannie became professional singers, the best known being Frances Saville (...

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