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date: 02 June 2020

Kemble, Adelaidefree

  • W.H. Husk
  • , revised by George Biddlecombe

(b London, 1814; d Warsash, Hants., Aug 4, 1879). English soprano. She was the younger daughter of the actor Charles Kemble. In 1835 she sang in the Concerts of Ancient Music on 13 and 20 May, in a performance of Messiah given by the Royal Society of Musicians on 10 June, and at the York Festival in September. Subsequently she studied in Paris, Germany (1837) and Italy (1839), where she had lessons at Giuditta Pasta’s house on Lake Como. Later that year she appeared as Norma at La Fenice, and in the season of 1840–41 she performed in Bellini’s Beatrice di Tenda and Rossini’s Otello at the S Carlo, Naples. She also sang at Trieste, Padua, Bologna and Mantua. Her sister Frances Kemble reported that she appeared at La Scala but this is not confirmed by Gatti. In 1841 she returned to England and on 2 November appeared with great success in an English version of Norma at Covent Garden. During the following year she sang in English versions of Le nozze di Figaro, La sonnambula, Rossini’s Semiramide, Cimarosa’s Il matrimonio segreto and Mercadante’s Elena da Feltre in London and Dublin. In 1843 she married Edward John Sartoris and retired from professional singing. Later she turned to writing fiction and her novel A Week in a French Country-House (1867) has many references to music. According to her sister her voice was of mezzo-soprano register, which she extended by study.


  • DNB (L.M. Middleton)
  • H.F. Chorley: Thirty Years' Musical Recollections (London, 1862), i, 112, 213–4
  • F.A. Kemble: Records of a Later Life (London, 1882), 123–5, 133, 293–5
  • A. Luzio: Carteggi verdiani (Rome, 1935–47), iv, 77, 276
  • C. Gatti: Il Teatro alla Scala nella storia e nell'arte, 1778–1963 (Milan, 1964)
  • C.M. Roscioni, ed.: Il Teatro di San Carlo (Naples, 1968)
Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 1885-1901, suppls., 1901-96)