De Grey, (Constance) Gladys, Countess [Marchioness of Ripon]
- John Rosselli
(b London, April 24, 1859; d London, Oct 27, 1917). English patron of London opera seasons from 1887 to 1914. A daughter of Sidney Herbert (Lord Herbert of Lea), Secretary of War during the Crimean War, and a close friend of the Prince and Princess of Wales, she ensured the social success of the 1887 opera season given by Augustus Harris at Drury Lane through her stipulation that he engage Jean de Reszke, then known in London only as a baritone. When Harris took over Covent Garden in 1888, she exerted great influence over the management committee or syndicate (on which her husband sat, as well as, after Harris’s death, her close collaborator H. V. Higgins) because she could persuade fashionable people to subscribe to the season in advance. She was partly responsible for the break with the tradition of giving all operas in Italian; she imposed the re-engagement of Melba after her initial near-failure, and later sustained Melba’s virtual control over casting. Herself unmusical, she was fired by enthusiasm for her friends among musicians.
- E. F. Benson: ‘Three Great Ladies and Others’, As we Were (London, 1930)
- H. Rosenthal: Two Centuries of Opera at Covent Garden (London, 1958)
- J. Hetherington: Melba (London, 1967)