1-20 of 72 results  for:

  • Performance Artist x
  • 19th c. /Romantic (1800-1900) x
Clear all

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

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 Boston Ideal Opera Company in 1879 (he was one of its original members). When the group was later reorganized as the Bostonians Barnabee was elected one of its officers; he remained with the company for the rest of its existence and the rest of his career. His most celebrated role was the Sheriff of Nottingham, which he created in the operetta Robin Hood by De Koven and H.B. Smith (1891), and which he sang more than 2000 times. His other notable roles included Sir Joseph Porter in Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore, Izzet Pasha in Franz von Suppé’s ...

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 1790 he became an administrator at the Royal Dramatic Theatre, a position he held until after Gustavus III’s assassination in 1792. In 1794 he turned to publishing in the provincial town of Linköping. During his career he supplied the texts for more than 65 one-act comedies with music, including the Singspiels Födelsedagen (‘The Birthday’, 1790), Fricorpsen eller Dalkarlarne (‘The Free Corps or Men from Dalacarlia’, 1788) and Marknaden (‘The Market Place’, 1792), all with music by Kraus. His tenor voice was considered expressive but fairly weak; his main talent as an actor lay in his satirical portrayals of figures such as Abbé Vogler in the first of the operas named above....

Article

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 1875.

In 1876 Bland joined the Bohee Minstrels, then Sprague’s Georgia Minstrels who, as Haverly’s Genuine Colored Minstrels, opened at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London on 30 July 1881. Bland was a star performer and became famous for his rendition of ...

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 1815 he moved to Boston, where he remained active until the onset of his final illness, when he went back to Leeds.

Most of Bray’s compositions are songs for the stage, patriotic songs and sacred works. His most important work is the ‘Operatic Melo Drame’ The Indian Princess, based on the story of Captain John Smith and Pocahontas; this was issued in 1808 in a vocal score which, besides songs and choruses, included the overture and instrumental background pieces for the scenes in melodrama – an unusually complete publication for the period. Bray’s musical style is less polished than that of his American contemporaries Reinagle, Graupner and Taylor; although his melodies are graceful and full of rhythmic variety, his piano textures often lack clarity....

Article

William Brooks

revised by 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 1831. After managing the Lyceum theater (1840), he moved to the United States and made his New York debut on 4 October 1842. He toured widely in the United States, performing in Boston from 1846 to 1948, then settled in New York, where he starred at Burton’s Theatre. On 23 December 1850 he opened Brougham’s Lyceum, but the venture failed two years later. He edited a comic paper, The Lantern (1852). From 1852 to 1860 he acted at Wallack’s and Burton’s theaters and managed the Bowery. He founded and was president of the Lotus Club in New York. After spending five years in London, he returned in ...

Article

Sandra Jean Graham

[Brower, Francis Marion ]

(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 July 1841 Brower began accompanying Emmett’s banjo songs on bones, pioneering the use of this folk instrument in professional entertainment. After a stint with Raymond and Waring’s Circus around 1841–2, the duo moved to New York. In early 1843 Brower, Emmett, billy Whitlock , and dick Pelham formed the Virginia minstrels , the first blackface minstrel troupe. Brower’s boisterous performances in “Southern Negro character” encompassed playing bones on the right end (which led to the formal role of endman), songs, stump speeches, conundrums (a circus genre), and breakdowns. Patterned on black practice, Brower’s dancing was distinctive for its jumps and leaps. He often danced while playing, his bones and feet creating a dense rhythmic texture, and he typically interrupted his dancing for brief comic dialogue. Brower and Pelham were considered premier dancers and were widely imitated by other minstrels, ...

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

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 22 November 1830 at the Park Theatre, New York. In 1840 he left the theater to study and practice law in Albany, New York, then in 1844 went to Europe to study violin with Charles-Auguste de Bériot. He returned to the United States the following year, undertook lengthy tours of the country with Leopold de Meyer (1846–7), Richard Hoffman (1847–8), and Jenny Lind (1850–52), and appeared with Gottschalk (1855–6) and Thalberg (1857). He performed several times with the New York Philharmonic Society, with which he gave the American premiere of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto (...

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 1898 to 1914 and where his strong team included André Messager as musical director and Lucien Jusseaume as designer. He worked hard to raise the musical standards of this institution and was responsible for the premières of major operas by French composers: he commissioned Debussy’s Pelléas, Charpentier’s Louise and Dukas’ Ariane et Barbe-bleue, and works by Hahn, Bruneau and Hüe. He gave the first French performances of several Italian operas, including ...

Article

Jonas Westover

[Barrangon, Emile]

(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 9 March 1921, when he performed the lead role of Hans in Weis-Leon’s The Polish Jew; he would repeat this role several other times. Another notable role was Tonio in I Pagliacci. From 1920 to 1922, he performed regularly on the Metropolitan’s Sunday Night Concert series, where he specialized in the “Toreador Song” from ...

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 1845 he had become the leader of the Sanqing troupe, one of the Four Great Anhui Companies (sida huiban), and retained the position until his death. Although most famous as a laosheng (old male), he could perform dan (female) and xiaosheng (young male) roles as well. Acknowledged by some as the father of Peking opera, he was the leading Peking opera actor of the 19th century, noted for his versatility, having mastered many kinds of Chinese opera music; he founded a style of Peking opera singing known as the ‘Anhui school’, which emphasized ...

Article

Robert Stevenson

(b Philadelphia, Nov 28, 1815; d New York, May 21, 1862). American minstrel-troupe organizer and performer. In 1842 while helping the widow Harriet Harrington to run a tavern at Buffalo, he joined her son George (who adopted the name Christy) and Thomas Vaughn to sing blackface songs. The troupe was augmented with Lansing Durand and others, and toured upstate New York in 1843–5. Acting as manager, interlocutor (centre man on the minstrel semicircle), ballad singer and banjo player, Christy took the six-man troupe to Palmo’s Opera House in New York on 27 April 1846. From 15 February 1847 to 15 July 1854 they played at Mechanics Hall, Broadway, perfecting a minstrel show in three sections that appealed to all levels of audience. On 25 August 1847, at the close of their second Cincinnati visit, Christy’s Minstrels gave Stephen Foster a benefit performance that included Oh! Susanna. From that time the troupe specialized in Foster premières, and in ...

Article

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 1847 to 1853, creating such roles as Lucy Long and Cachuca, and distinguishing himself in every part from endman and bone player to wench. In 1853 he joined Henry Wood at 444 Broadway to form Wood and Christy’s Minstrels. After a fire destroyed their premises in December 1854, the company went on tour; they later returned to New York and re-established themselves on Broadway. Christy formed his own company, George Christy’s Minstrels, in 1858, and played at Tom Maguire’s Opera House in San Francisco. In May 1859 he attempted to resume occupancy of the rebuilt 444 Broadway in New York, but was prevented from doing so by his erstwhile partner Wood. His last appearance was in Brooklyn with Hooley’s Minstrels ten days before his death. Christy published collections of his songs, dialogues and jokes, including ...

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 Faithful Bob (later known as True Devotion), which he produced with his wife and daughter.

“Interview with Ben Cotton,” New York Mirror (3 July 1897) E.L. Rice: Monarchs of Minstrelsy (New York, 1911)...

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

revised by 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 Wesele w Ojcowie (‘The Wedding in Ojców’, 1823), and his Chłop milionowy (‘The Millionaire Peasant’, 1829, based on a play by Raimund), created a sensation in Warsaw; his parody of Meyerbeer's ...

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 Evangeline (1874). He played increasingly more important comic parts in contemporary lyric pieces before he achieved stardom as the statue brought to life in Adonis (1884). This musical was the first play in Broadway’s history to run for more than 500 consecutive performances; women flocked to gape at Dixey’s handsome face and attractive figure, and all sorts of playgoers returned to laugh at his sly interpretation of the miraculous statue, his spoof of Henry Irving, his hilarious routine in drag, and other comic highpoints. The show marked the apogee of his career, for although several other musicals were written especially for him, including ...

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 Zip Coon), and is credited as the first to perform them; he presented Coal Black Rose as early as 1827 in Albany and in 1828 brought it to New York, where he became highly popular. Capitalizing on this success, in 1829 he expanded the song into two comic skits (an interlude and an afterpiece), The Lottery Ticket and Love in a Cloud; the latter has been cited as the first ‘negro play’. Dixon performed throughout the 1830s, but by the 1840s he had been eclipsed by other minstrel performers; he went on to gain notoriety as a filibuster in Yucatán and as the editor of a New York scandal sheet. ...

Article

Robert B. Winans

revised by Jonas Westover

[Clapp, George Alfred ]

(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 1878 and 1883 he was Charles Dockstader’s partner in a performing duo called the Dockstader Brothers, and in 1886 he formed his own Dockstader’s Minstrels. He later formed a company with George Primrose (1898–1903), which was among the last minstrel troupes to tour major US cities. For the next 11 years he maintained his own company, and his last years were spent in vaudeville. Dockstader was an extremely successful organizer and director of minstrel productions and created many skits and afterpieces. His own talent lay particularly in burlesque and mimicry. Regarding the latter, he was especially famous for his monologues and stump speeches in addition to parodying politicians, actors, and singers. He was one of the few to keep minstrelsy alive as a distinct form well into the 20th century. Dockstader published a few collections, including a minstrel songster in ...