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Article

Philip E.J. Robinson

(b Beaujeu, Rhône, Oct 26, 1819; d after 1858). French soprano. She studied at the Paris Conservatoire with Bordogni, Nourrit and Cinti-Damoreau, and in 1836 won a premier prix for singing. She began her stage career in Italy, appearing at Varese in 1837, and later at Turin, Bergamo, Rome, Milan and Florence, where in 1840 she married the singer Enrico Giampetro. In the winter of 1843–4 she sang in New York and Boston. She made her London début at a Philharmonic concert (13 May 1844), and appeared in Italian opera alternately in St Petersburg (1844–6) and with Lumley’ s company at Her Majesty’s Theatre (1845–7). Her first London role was Lucia (1 April 1845) and she chose the same role for her débuts at the Théâtre-Italien, Paris (1847), and Covent Garden (1848). At the Paris Opéra in ...

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Elizabeth Forbes

(b Toulouse, Aug 16, 1834; d New York, Feb 10, 1897). French bass . From 1863 to 1870 he sang at the Paris Opéra, where he created Don Diégo in L’Africaine (1865), a Monk (Charles V) in Don Carlos (1867) and Horatio in Thomas’ Hamlet (1868). He also sang Gounod’s Méphistophélès, Leporello, Oberthal (Le prophète) and Ferrando (Il trovatore). He sang with the French Opera Company, New Orleans (1870), and toured the USA with the Max Strakosch English Opera Company (1879). At Monte Carlo (1884) he sang Balthazar (La favorite), Giacomo (Fra Diavolo), Ramfis and Claudius (Hamlet). From 1889 to 1896 he sang at Covent Garden, as King Henry (Lohengrin), Giacomo (Mascagni’s I Rantzau, 1893), Remigio (La Navarraise), the Bailli (Werther...

Article

Bonnie Elizabeth Fleming

(b 1863; d New York, NY, April 2, 1909) American tenor. A veteran of Christy’s Minstrels in England, he used his lyrical tenor voice first as a blackface minstrel before switching to English opera with Sher Campbell’s opera company. He sang Italian opera for a time with Jacob Grau’s company, traveling to the United States and performing at the Academy of Music in New York in the 1860s. He stayed in the United States and became a star in English opera, traveling with many troupes, including those managed by Caroline Richings, Clara Louise Kellogg, Euphrosyne Parepa-Rosa, C. D. (Charles) Hess, Gustav Hinrichs, and Emma Abbott. The widespread exposure he gained as a traveling performer to a multiplicity of audiences coupled with the beautiful, clear quality of his powerfully sweet voice led him to become one of the most favored tenors in early American opera history.

Obituary, New York Times...

Article

Roger Covell

(b Melbourne, July 25, 1880; d Melbourne, Nov 19, 1951). Australian soprano. Although she was fêted throughout much of her career, her subsequent obscurity has been attributed by her partisans to the dominance of Melba. She received generous support in her late teens for study overseas, first with Mathilde Marchesi (who dismayed her by wishing to turn her into a contralto), then with Jacques Bouhy. She made her début, after further study, at Cologne (1907) in Thomas’ Hamlet, followed by other appearances as Gounod’s Marguerite and Juliet. Her 1909–10 Australian tour included her alternation with the French soprano Bel Sorel in the Australian first performances of Madama Butterfly. A four-year contract awarded her by the Hofoper in Vienna in 1912 was cut short by World War I. She returned to Australia for the Rigo-J. C. Williamson opera season of 1919. Diabetes contributed to her loss of enthusiasm for an international operatic career and her subsequent concentration on concert work. Her singing of the mad scene in ...

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Elizabeth Forbes

(b Sinigaglia, May 10, 1780; d Paris, June 12, 1849). Italian soprano. She received very little formal musical instruction and made her début at La Fenice at the age of 17 in Mayr’s La Lodoiska. In 1800 she sang in Cimarosa’s Gli Orazi ed i Curiazi in Trieste, and the following season in the same composer’s Clitennestra at La Scala. After appearances in Florence and Rome, in 1804 she went to Lisbon, and in 1806 she made her London début at the King’s Theatre in M.A. Portugal’s Semiramide, also singing in Portugal’s Il ritorno di Serse and La morte di Mitridate, Mayr’s Che originali (Il fanatico per la musica) and Nasolini’s La morte di Cleopatra.

Between 1808 and 1814 at the King’s she appeared in Paisiello’s La frascatana and Didone, sang Sesostris in Nasolini’s La festa d’Iside, and sang in Pucitta’s La vestale, Le tre sultane...

Article

J.B. Steane

(b 1887; d Paris, 1922). French tenor. He sang first as a baritone, later studying the lyric tenor repertory with Albert Saleza and winning a premier prix at the Paris Conservatoire in 1914. His début at the Opéra-Comique had to be delayed until 1919, when he sang such roles as Des Grieux in ...

Article

J.B. Steane

(b St Petersburg, 2/April 14, 1892; d Yorktown Heights, ny, March 25, 1986). Russian baritone. He made his début in St Petersburg where he sang Yevgeny Onegin and Valentin in Faust, fleeing to Constantinople after the Revolution and then to the USA. After a period with the Baltimore Civic Opera he joined the Metropolitan in ...

Article

Harold Rosenthal

[Standing, Francis]

(b Dalston, London, April 8, 1845; d London, Dec 27, 1904). English bass-baritone. He had received little vocal instruction when he made his successful début in 1862 at the Marylebone Theatre, London, as Mat of the Mint in The Beggar's Opera. Other stage and concert work followed, and then a period of study with Hermine Rudersdorff and a concert tour with Carlotta Patti in the late 1860s. In 1871 he joined Mapleson's provincial touring company, making his first operatic appearance as Valentin in the first Birmingham performance of Gounod's Faust. Celli's most important work was in English opera. He was a member of the Carl Rosa Company in its first London season at the Princess's Theatre in 1875, singing Gounod's Méphistophélès on the second night of the season. He appeared regularly with the company for several years taking part in the first performances of many new English works, after which he returned to light opera, touring the USA and Canada. His voice retained its freshness and charm throughout his career....

Article

John Koegel

[Rosalía Gertrudis de la Concepción Díaz de Herrera y Fonseca ]

(b, ?Nov 17, 1863/1864; d Havana, Cuba Nov 16, 1948). Opera singer and pioneering recording artist of Cuban birth. She used the stage name of Chalía—the diminuitive form of Rosalía—and is viewed as the “first great vocalist to make an extensive series of recordings” (Benko and Holdridge). Chalía was the daughter of the head of the Spanish naval post in Havana, and after studying piano, violin, and voice in Cuba, she moved to New York in 1893, where she studied voice with Cuban émigré musician Emilio Agramonte y Piña and reportedly made her professional debut in New York the next year. In collaboration with Agramonte, her concert performances in the 1890s helped raise funds for the Cuban Revolution.

Chalía appeared with the Metropolitan Opera company only twice, in 1898 and 1902 (Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana and Aida in Aida); however, she performed more frequently with James Henry Mapleson’s Royal Italian Opera company and other troupes, in leading roles in ...

Article

J.B. Steane

[Cholmondeley, Archer]

(b Los Angeles, May 29, 1892; d Los Angeles, Nov 13, 1966). American tenor. He studied with Achille Alberti in Los Angeles, making his début there as Edgardo in 1916, and then in New York. Scotti secured his début at the Metropolitan (Tosca, 1920), where he sang in ...

Article

Thomasin La May

[Arsène]

(b Saujon, Charente Maritime, March 5, 1824; d Paris, Nov 30, 1892). French dramatic mezzo-soprano. She studied with Bizot at Bordeaux and made her operatic début there in 1842 playing the title role in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor; as Mlle Charton she subsequently toured in Toulouse and Brussels. On 18 July 1846 she made a successful London début at Drury Lane, singing Madeleine in Adam’s Le postillon de Longjumeau; she later sang Angèle in Auber’s Le domino noir. At Drury Lane she met the Belgian flautist Jules-Antoine Demeur (b Hodimont-lez-Verviers, 23 Sept 1814) whom she married on 4 September 1847. Demeur had studied with Lahore at the Brussels Conservatory and later learnt the Boehm flute from Dorus in Paris. From 1842 to 1847 he played first flute at the Théâtre de la Monnaie and in that capacity performed at Drury Lane in 1846. He gave up this position to travel with his wife on her engagements....

Article

Brian A. Moon

(Smiley )

(b Nashville, TN, 1865; d New York, NY, Jan 5, 1946). American singer, actress, diseuse, writer, and lecturer. She began performing at the age of 12. In 1888, she joined the Augustin Daly troupe as a musical and comedic actress, performing frequently in New York and on national tours. By 1902, she was a successful society entertainer in London, specializing in African American songs and stories. Although she was white, she became known in Europe and America as an expert on African American folk music, using her southern heritage to establish authenticity. She performed lecture recitals in dozens of German and American universities. Cheatham also received praise for her interpretation of spirituals from African American musicians, including J. Rosamond Johnson, John Wesley Work, and Harry Burleigh. Burleigh provided her with many arrangements of spirituals years before he became known for publishing them, and he performed with her in concerts between ...

Article

Dale Cockrell

(b Meredith, NH, April 18, 1818; d Franklin, MA, May 10, 1890).

American singer, singing-school teacher, and composer. He was the son of Moses Cheney (1776–1853), a well-known local musician. As a young man he was a member, with his three brothers, Nathaniel, Moses Ela, and Joseph Young, and his sister Elizabeth Ela, of the Cheney Singers, a family group that toured throughout New England performing glees, ballads, and hymns (1845–7). He taught singing-schools in Vermont for much of his life, and compiled The American Singing Book (1879/R), a volume containing biographies of earlier American composers and examples of their work, as well as 33 original hymn tunes and three anthems. At the time of his death he was preparing a catalogue of birdsong, Wood Notes Wild: Notations of Bird Music (published posthumously in 1892); he was also one of the first to transcribe field recordings made of Native American music. His brother Moses Ela Cheney (...

Article

Philip E.J. Robinson

(Marie)

(b Paris, May 20, 1798; d Nemours, Jan 10, 1892). French tenor. He studied the violin and solfège at the Paris Conservatoire, and from 1815 to 1818 was a chorus singer successively at the Opéra, Théâtre Italien and Opéra-Comique. For several years he sang the high baritone roles associated with Martin and others, appearing in Switzerland, Le Havre (1823–5), the Opéra-Comique (1825) and Brussels (1826). In 1826 he joined the Opéra-Comique as a tenor, and appeared with success in the première of Hérold’s Marie. He remained at the Opéra-Comique until 1832, and created the title roles in Auber’s Fra Diavolo (1830) and Hérold’s Zampa (1831), the latter demanding a range from G to d♭′′. From 1832 to 1834 he sang at Brussels and then at The Hague, but in 1835 he returned to the Opéra-Comique, where he created Chapelou in Adam’s ...

Article

(fl 1796–1808). Italian singer. She appeared in three operas in Genoa (1796), ten in Venice (1798–1800), 13 at La Scala (1802–3) and one more in Genoa (1807–8). She played both comic and serious parts. She may have been related to the singer Giuseppe Ciccerelli, who appeared in 21 operas in Venice, ...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Altamura, Apulia, May 22, 1790; d Venice, Dec 5, 1836). Italian tenor. He was engaged for many years in Naples, where he took part in six Rossini premières: at the Teatro del Fondo he sang Iago in Otello (1816); at the S Carlo he sang Goffredo in ...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Stockholm, June 11, 1879; d Stockholm, May 1, 1941). Swedish mezzo-soprano. She studied in Stockholm, making her début in 1903 at the Royal Opera, where she was engaged until 1912. She sang in Berlin, London, Vienna, Paris, Brussels and Chicago (1913–17); her Covent Garden roles (...

Article

(b Girlington, Yorks., June 29, 1865; d Northwood, Middlesex, Aug 16, 1941). English tenor. While engaged in business he sang as a baritone for the Carl Rosa Company in Manchester and Liverpool. In 1893 he took lessons in London from William Shakespeare, who pronounced his voice a tenor, but he appeared as a baritone at the Savoy Theatre in Sullivan's Utopia Limited and then toured the USA in it. There followed regular work in musical comedy in London and the provinces, and a second American tour.

He then retired to study the tenor repertory. He appeared at the Globe Theatre in The Gay Pretenders and at Covent Garden as Claudio in the first performance of Stanford's Much Ado about Nothing. The turning-point in his career came when, at 37, he was launched as a tenor at the Three Choirs Festival (Worcester, 1902) as Elgar's Gerontius. From then Coates was recognized as a master in whatever he touched – Siegfried, Tristan, Lohengrin (in Germany, and with the Beecham and Moody-Manners companies), Elgar's ...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(Angela )

(b Madrid, Feb 2, 1785; d Castenaso, Bologna, Oct 7, 1845). Spanish soprano. After study with Francisco Pareja, Marinelli and Crescentini, she made her concert début in Paris (1801) and her stage début in Spain (1806), and the following year came to Italy, where she sang at Bologna; a contemporary account (quoted in Weinstock) gave her compass then as almost three octaves, from g to e‴. In 1808–9 she sang in the premières of Giuseppe Nicolini's Coriolano, Vincenzo Federici's Ifigenia and Vincenzo Lavigna's Orcamo at La Scala, Milan, and in 1811 she was engaged for Naples by the impresario Barbaia, whose mistress she became; she remained there for over a decade. A highly dramatic singer who excelled in tragedy, especially in Spontini's La vestale and Mayr's Medea in Corinto, she strongly influenced the operas that Rossini composed for Naples. Elisabetta, regina d'Inghilterra (...

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Roberta Montemorra Marvin

(b Rome, Oct 21, 1811; d ?May 1863). Italian baritone. In both contemporary and modern sources he is sometimes confused with Virgilio Collini or Filippo Coletti. He studied with Camillo Angiolini at the Collegio Romano from 1819 to 1827, where he sang in the choir. His first concert appearance was in 1831. Early in 1835 he appeared at the opera house in Fabriano, and during the autumn made his début at the Teatro Valle, Rome. Thereafter he was engaged at major Italian theatres in Palermo (1838–41, 1852–4), Naples (1841–2, 1848, 1855–7), Genoa (1842–3, 1854–5), Milan (1844–5) and Rome (1844, 1845–6, 1848–9, 1849–50), among others, and in Paris and Vienna.

During his early career his repertory consisted mainly of works by Donizetti, especially Torquato Tasso; later he concentrated on Verdi’s operas, in particular Nabucco, Ernani and Luisa Miller. He sang Luigi XIV in the première of Campana’s ...