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Article

H. Wiley Hitchcock

revised by Katherine K. Preston

(b Chicago, Dec 9, 1850; d Salt Lake City, Jan 5, 1891). American soprano and impresario. She studied first with her father and by the age of nine was performing professionally. She joined an itinerant concert troup in 1866 and after it disbanded went to New York to study with Achille Errani; her concert début there was in December 1871. In 1872 she went abroad to study with Sangiovanni in Milan and Marchesi, Wartel and Delle Sedie in Paris. Her operatic début at Covent Garden was as Marie in La fille du régiment (2 May 1876), but her contract was cancelled when she refused to sing Violetta on moral grounds.

Abbott secretly married Eugene Wetherell (d 1889); in 1876 they returned to the USA, where she gave concerts. Her American operatic début was in New York on 23 February 1877, again as Marie. In ...

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

H. Wiley Hitchcock

(fl 1785–95). Cellist, guitarist, singer, impresario, and composer of French origin, active in Philadelphia and New York. He is first mentioned in 1785 as a manager of subscription concerts in Philadelphia. He organized similar concerts in New York, generally in series of three: in 1788–89, with Alexander Reinagle as co-manager; in 1791–92; and in 1793–94 (the City Concerts, presented at the City Tavern). He performed in these as the soloist in cello concertos, as a member of chamber duos and quartets, and as a singer (often in duets with Mary Ann Pownall); he also played cello in the Old American Company’s orchestra. In the early 1790s, he was a music tutor of George Washington’s stepdaughter Nelly Custis, while in 1793 he became the co-manager with John Christopher Moller of a music store and school in Philadelphia, considered the first of its kind in America. Capron and Moller published four issues of ...

Article

(b, Feb 7, 1851; d Tuckertown, NJ, June 15, 1933). Operetta singer, actress, and theatrical manager of German birth. She first performed in comic opera at age 16 in Germany, where she also appeared on the variety stage. After stints with various German and Russian theatrical companies and circuses, Cottrelly immigrated to the United States in 1875, appearing at Adolf Neuendorff’s German-language Germania Theater in New York on 5 October 1875. She appeared very successfully in German dramatic, comic, and musical roles under Neuendorff until 1879, and later served as the artistic director of the German Thalia Theater in New York (1879–81). She then moved to the English-language stage, and appeared throughout the 1880s with the McCaull Comic Opera Company, singing leading operetta roles by Strauss, Millöcker, Planquette, and others. She also performed with Rudolf Aronson’s company at the Casino Theater in New York, opening the house in ...

Article

Ian Whitcomb

(b Hohensalza [now Inowrocław, Poland], Aug 18, 1879; d Los Angeles, CA, Nov 7, 1945). American singer, songwriter, and impresario. His family immigrated to the United States in the 1880s. By the age of 14 Edwards was working as a singer in Tony Pastor’s Music Hall in New York, and he subsequently appeared as a vaudeville performer with four other boys in an act called the Newsboy Quintet. In 1899 he began to write songs with the lyricist Will D. Cobb, beginning a partnership that lasted for several years. Their first hit was “I can’t tell why I love you, but I do” (1900), and they went on to establish their reputation with such songs as “Goodbye little girl, goodbye” (1904) and “School Days” (1907), a melodious waltz ballad with lyrics yearning for the simple days of small-town rural America. This last-named song was written for a revue in which Edwards appeared with a number of young actors; its success was such that he continued to present his “kiddie discovery shows” with new performers and material for the next 20 years. Among the juvenile actors he promoted were Eddie Cantor, George Jessel, Walter Winchell, and Ray Bolger. Many of Edwards’s best songs, including “Sunbonnet Sue” (...

Article

John A. Emerson

[Schmidt, Agnes]

(b Vienna, Jan 26, 1831; d San Francisco, Aug 30, 1909). American soprano and impresario of Austrian birth. She studied in Vienna, making her début in the title role of Lucrezia Borgia in Kassa (Kaschau), Hungary (now Košice, Slovakia), in 1847. She was prima donna of the Stadttheater in Hamburg in 1857, and that year was engaged by the impresario Richard Mulder (1822–74), whom she married, to tour the Americas, Canada and the Caribbean islands. Her 25 appearances at the Winter Gardens, New York, in 1860 in a publicity ‘war’ with Patti secured her international reputation. For the next two years the Fabbri-Mulder Troupe toured North America. She returned to Europe in 1862, becoming prima donna of the Frankfurt Stadttheater in 1864, where she remained for seven years. On the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, she and Mulder returned to the USA. In 1872, the year after which Fabbri appeared at Covent Garden, they joined forces with another company to present an opera season in New York. In winter ...

Article

Susan L. Porter

(b nr Manchester, England, cJune 7, 1765; d nr Bladensburg, MD, Sept 12, 1805). Actor, singer, and theatrical manager of English birth. He began his career in 1782 with the Tate Wilkinson troupe in York; by 1790 he was playing leading roles in tragedy, comedy, and comic opera at the major English provincial theaters. He made his debut in the United States on 26 September 1792 with the Old American Company in Philadelphia, together with his second wife, Frances Hodgkinson (née Brett) (b England, 1771; d Philadelphia, PA, 27 Sept 1803). In addition to his varied acting roles and his notable popularity with audiences, Hodgkinson frequently sang in concert. He was credited with “a fine taste for music” and a voice that was “powerful, melodious, variable, and of immense compass” (Mirror of Taste and Dramatic Censor, i/3, 1810); he was also said to be proficient on the violin and the flute. He became manager of the Old American Company in ...

Article

Sandra Jean Graham

(b Jacksonville, FL, Aug 11, 1873; d New York, NY, Nov 11, 1954). American composer, lyricist, vocalist, actor, theatrical director, and educator, brother of james weldon Johnson . He was born to James Johnson, a freeman from Virginia, and Helen Louise [née Dillett] Johnson, born free in Nassau, the Bahamas. His mother, a trained singer and educator, began teaching Johnson piano when he was four. From 1890 to 1896 Johnson studied music at the New England Conservatory. He then performed in John W. Isham’s Oriental America, which whetted his appetite for theater. After returning to Jacksonville (spring 1897), he taught music privately and was supervisor of music for Jacksonville public schools (1896–9). He was also choirmaster and organist at a large Baptist church and taught music at the Baptist Academy. Johnson’s earliest compositions, with his brother as lyricist, date from this time.

In summer 1899 the Johnson brothers went to New York hoping to get their operetta ...

Article

Katherine K. Preston

(Antonia Joanna)

(b Vienna, July 4, 1863; d New York, March 6, 1939). American soprano and impresario of Austrian birth. Born of naturalized American parents, she grew up in New York City, where she studied with her father and with Adeline Murio-Celli. Her concert début (1881) at Chickering Hall attracted the attention of Mapleson, who signed her for three seasons at Her Majesty’s Theatre, London, where she made her operatic début, in June 1881 as Philine in Thomas’s Mignon; she sang the same role in her American début with the Mapleson Company at the New York Academy of Music (October 1881). In 1884 she toured the USA with a troupe of Wagnerian artists under Theodore Thomas, and in 1886 became a principal (under Thomas) with the ill-fated American (later the National) Opera Company. In 1889 Juch formed her own opera troupe, which travelled and performed throughout North America for two years; its all-English repertory included French, Italian, German and English operas. Between ...

Article

H. Wiley Hitchcock

revised by Katherine K. Preston

(b Sumterville [now Sumter], SC, July 9, 1842; d New Hartford, CT, May 13, 1916). American soprano and impresario. She learned music from her parents and started studying the piano at the age of five. In 1857 her family moved to New York, where she studied with Achille Errani, Emanuele Muzio and others. After a modest concert tour (1860), she made her début as Gilda at the Academy of Music (27 February 1861) and subsequently sang opera in New York and Boston. During the Civil War she toured, performing opera from Boston to Chicago and giving operatic concerts. Her first notable triumph was as Marguerite in the New York première of Gounod's Faust (Academy of Music, 25 November 1863). Although she became closely identified with the role, she described Marguerite in her memoirs as ‘a little fool’ and preferred Aida and Carmen.

Kellogg's London début, also as Marguerite, was at Her Majesty's Theatre (...

Article

Harold Rosenthal

(b Cochem, Dec 12, 1881; d Berlin, April 17, 1959). German soprano and director. She studied at the Strasbourg Conservatory (1902–5), becoming an ‘apprentice’ at the Strasbourg Opera and making her début in 1903 as an offstage priestess in Aida. She was engaged at Rostock (1906–8), Breslau (1908–13), and, from 1913, at the Berlin Hofoper (later Staatsoper), remaining a member of the ensemble until 1932. In 1922 she made her Metropolitan début in the title role of Max von Schillings’s Mona Lisa. The next year she married the composer and sang again at the Metropolitan, as Elsa, Isolde – a role in which she was admired for her stage presence but considered deficient in range and power – and Kundry. She sang Senta at Bayreuth in 1914 (as Barbara Mikley-Kemp) and Kundry from 1924 to 1927. In 1938–9 she directed Von Schillings’s Ingwelde and ...

Article

Renee Lapp Norris

(b 1823, in Lancaster or Philadelphia, PA; d Chillicothe, MO, Sept 10, 1868). American composer, manager, arranger, singer, and pianist. Of German ancestry, Kneass began his career as a child, appearing in 1828 in Philadelphia. By the early 1840s, he was performing vocal concerts in New York with a group that included Mrs. Eliza Sharpe (whom he may have married), George Holman, and Joseph H. Kavanagh. In the autumn of 1844, Kneass, Holman, and Kavanagh sang in the chorus for the American premiere of Michael William Balfe’s opera The Bohemian Girl. In the spring of 1845, Kneass directed and performed as a blackface minstrel with the Ethiopian Troupe of Burlesquers, which also included Sharpe, Holman, and Kavanagh. They performed opera parody skits at Palmo’s Opera House in New York City, including The Virginian Girl, a parody of The Bohemian Girl. During the next several years, Kneass performed with the New Orleans Serenaders, a troupe known for its opera parodies, and managed the Sable Harmonists, which toured the American South and the British Isles. In ...

Article

Peter Branscombe

( Eduard Ambrosius )

( b Vienna, Dec 7, 1801; d Graz, May 25, 1862). Austrian playwright, actor, director and singer . He studied law at the University of Vienna (1817–22), but left without a degree in order to devote himself to singing. At the age of 17 he had sung solo bass in a public performance of Handel’s Alexander’s Feast, and on 24 August 1822 he made his début as Sarastro at the Court Opera (Kärntnertortheater). He was a member of the company until August 1823, singing ten roles in works by Paer, Rossini, Grétry, Gyrowetz and others, including Don Fernando in Fidelio. He then joined the German Theatre at Amsterdam, where in two years he built up his repertory to include Kaspar and Ottokar in Der Freischütz, Publius (and later Annius) in La clemenza di Tito, Masetto (and later Don Giovanni), Papageno, Pizarro, Adam in Schenk’s Der Dorfbarbier, and numerous Rossini roles. Towards the end of his Dutch engagement comic character parts begin to figure prominently, a tendency increasingly marked during his ...

Article

(b England, 1827; d Richmond, va, Jan 14, 1882). American impresario and singer. Taken to the USA at an early age and adopted by the actor Peter Richings, she began her musical career as a concert pianist. She later studied singing and made her operatic début at the Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia, as Marie in Donizetti’s La fille du régiment (9 February 1852). She performed as pianist and singer in the Richings Opera Company, which her father had formed in 1859, and became its director on his retirement in 1867. In the same year she married Peter Bernard, a tenor in the troupe, which, under the name Richings-Bernard Company, toured the USA extensively. In 1870 they joined forces briefly with Euphrosyne Parepa-Rosa, their chief rival, as the Caroline Richings-Bernard Grand Opera Combination; but Clara Kellogg lured most of the good singers away and the venture failed financially....

Article

Margaret Cayward

[Miguel José ]

(b Petra, Majorca, Spain, Nov 24, 1713; d Mission San Carlos Borromeo, Alta California [now in Carmel, CA], Aug 28, 1784). Spanish Franciscan friar and founder of the Alta California missions. Baptized Miguel José, upon joining the Franciscan order at age 17 he took the name of Junípero, after a companion of St. Francis. In 1742 Serra obtained a doctorate in theology at the Lullian University in Palma de Mallorca, where he was a professor of theology. Known as a forceful and zealous preacher with a resonant voice, in 1749 Serra sailed for New Spain to become a missionary. He served in the missions in the Sierra Gorda from 1750 to 1758, and the missions he administered there prospered. In order to better serve the indigenous population he served there, he learned the Otomí language. In 1758 Serra was recalled to the San Fernando College in Mexico City, where he remained until ...

Article

Katherine K. Preston

(b Philadelphia, Oct 7, 1848; d Palisade, NJ, June 25, 1927). American opera singer, stage manager, and music businessman. His début as a singer was in Gounod’s Faust in Philadelphia in 1864. He subsequently appeared with the Carncross and Dixey’s Minstrels, in Caroline Richings’ Old Folks Company, and (in the 1870s and 1880s) with various itinerant English opera companies, including those of Emma Abbott, Rudolph Aronson, Clara Louise Kellogg, and C.D. Hess. During this period he also worked as stage and chorus director with the Abbott Opera Company, chorus master for Clara Kellogg’s troupe, and stage manager for the Emily Melville and American opera companies. In the late 1880s and into the 1890s Tams was associated with the Casino Theatre in New York, where he served as stage manager and also appeared in comic operas and operettas by composers such as Lecocq, Offenbach, and Millöcker.

Tams began to collect performance materials for choral works and operas at mid-century. The oldest documents in the Tams-Witmark Collection at the University of Wisconsin are the scores, promptbooks, and libretti from the performance library of the Seguin Opera Company (active ...