Past Images of the Month - June 2016

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Photograph by Walery, London. Harris's bookplate. Mr Augustus Harris by Spy. Vanity Fair, 28 September 1889. Adelina Patti (1843-1919) as Aida.  She knew Augustus Harris  from 1861 when she was 18,  making her début at Covent Garden.  He was then nine and allowed to watch rehearsals from the wings when his father was directing operas there in the 1860s.  They remained friends until his death. Scene from Colomba by Alexander Mackenzie which received its world première on 9 April 1883 during the Carl Rosa Season at Drury Lane.  The three roles shown here were created by Alwina Valleria, Mlle Baldi and Barton McGuckin. The Graphic, 1883. Alwina Valleria (1848-1925), American-born soprano, studied at the Royal Academy of Music, London.  She sang in the Carl Rosa seasons at Drury Lane creating the title roles in Colomba and Nadeshda and was also sang in the first performance of The Troubadour. Scene from Schumann’s only opera Genoveva in its British première given by students of the Royal College of Music at a Drury Lane matinée on 6 December 1893. "Count Siegfried consulting the Magic Mirror of the Witch Margaret.", the student performers being from left to right Louisa Kirkby Lunn, Una Bruckshaw, William Maynard, Albert Archdeacon and William Green. The Graphic, 16 December 1893. Edouard de Reszke (1853-1917). Cabinet photograph. The De Reszke brothers sang in most of the Harris opera seasons from 1887 to 1896 and were great favourites with the public.   The Richard Copeman Collection. Sigrid Arnoldson (1861-1943) as Baucis in Gounod’s Philemon et Baucis.  She was a Swedish coloratura soprano, who made her London debut at Drury Lane as Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia in June 1887 and won instantaneous success.  The following year she sang in Don Giovanni at Covent Garden and opened the 1892 season there singing Baucis.  The Illustrated London News,  July 1892.  Photograph Russell and Sons, London. Jean de Reszke (1850-1925). Cabinet photograph. In the 1887 Drury Lane season Jean de Reszke was introduced to London singing tenor roles.  He had previously been a baritone.  After the opening night when he sang Radames in Aida his success was immediate and he quickly became an international star.  The Richard Copeman Collection. Lord Charles Beresford (1846-1919) was born in Dublin, the second son of the fourth Marquis of Waterford.  He entered the Navy in 1859.  An opera lover and friend of the Prince of Wales, he was instrumental in persuading Harris to take Covent Garden for his first season of Italian Opera there in 1888. Photograph by W.& D.Downey, London. "The opening night of the Royal Italian Opera: I Pescatori di Perle at Covent Garden."  The singers in this performance of Bizet's opera on 18 May 1889 were Ella Russel as Leila and Jean-Alexandre Talazac as Nadir. The Graphic, 1 June, 1889. Lady de Grey (1859-1917) was a leading figure in Society and acted as an adviser to Harris in social matters, becoming very influential at Covent Garden.  In 1909 her husband succeeded as Marquess of Ripon and as Lady Ripon her influence at Covent Garden continued to grow during the Diaghilev Ballet years. The Richard Copeman Collection. Nellie Melba (1861-1931) made her British operatic début in Harris's first Covent Garden season in 1888, singing the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor.  The following year she had an instant success in Roméo et Juliette, appearing with Jean de Reszke, and she soon became the most celebrated soprano of her generation. The Richard Copeman Collection. Programme for four subscription nights in April 1891 at the Royal Italian Opera, Covent Garden. 'The Shah of Persia in England. The State Visit to the Royal Italian Opera, Covent Garden.'  The Graphic, 13 July 1889. Silk programme for the Shah's visit.  The star cast includes Albani, Melba, Margarite Macintyre, Nordica and the de Reszke brothers.  The Richard Copeman Collection. Scene from Elaine. The opera, written by Hermann Bemberg expressly for Melba, was dedicated jointly to her and Jean de Reszke. Both appeared in the world première, Covent Garden 5 July 1892, respectively as Elaine and Lancelot.  The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, 16 July 1892. Marie Delna (1875-1932), French contralto, was born Marie Ledan and studied with Rosine Laborde.  She had great success in the 1894 Covent Garden season in L’Attaque du Moulin. Scene from Alfred Bruneau’s L’Attaque du Moulin.  The libretto by Louis Gallet was based on a short story by Émile Zola. Its British première at Covent Garden on 4 July 1894 was a notable success.  The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, 14 July 1894. Emma Albani (1847-1930). Her début at Covent Garden was in 1872 and in 1878 she married Ernest Gye, son of the Manager Frederick Gye.  She sang Marguerite in Faust during Harris’s first Covent Garden season in 1888 and appeared in a number of his subsequent seasons.  1896 was her last at Covent Garden and on 26 June, four days after Harris’s death, she and Jean de Reszke gave a memorably brilliant performance of Tristan und Isolde. On the last night of the season (27 July) she made her final appearance  in Don Giovanni.   Photograph by Bergamasco, St. Petersburg. Pietro Mascagni.    His two operas Cavalleria Rusticana and L’Amico Fritz, given in the 1892 Harris seasons proved a great success. On 15 July of the following year he conducted a command performance for Queen Victoria at Windsor which included both operas.  Illustration from an article 'Sir Augustus Harris on Opera' in The Strand Musical Magazine, August, 1895. Margaret Macintyre (1863-1943), soprano, was born in Madras. She was a pupil of Manuel Garcia. Harris saw in her an ideal Michaela for his production of Carmen at Covent Garden during his first season of opera there in 1888 and she sang in most of his subsequent seasons.  She retired from the stage when she married in 1907.  Photograph by the Stereoscopic Company, London. Gala in honour of the Royal Wedding of The Duke of York and Princess Mary of Teck at Covent Garden on 4 July, 1893.  Melba and Jean de Reszke sang in Roméo et Juliette. The Richard Copeman Collection. Visit of the Emperor of Germany to Covent Garden, 8 July 1891. The gala programme included Act I of Lohengrin, Act IV Roméo et Juliette and Act IV of Les Huguenots.  Cover illustration from Black & White, 18 July 1891. Souvenir Libretto-Programme for Roméo et Juliette, the Royal Wedding Gala at Covent Garden, 4 July 1893. The marriage took place on 6 July and a year later there was a command performance at Windsor to celebrate their anniversary. Gounod's Philémon et Baucis and Massenet's La Navarraise were given. Lillian Nordica (1857-1914), American soprano, made a very successful Covent Garden début in 1890 singing Marguerite in Faust and sang in the three following seasons.  Photograph by W. & D. Downey, London. The sisters Ravogli,  Sophia (1865-1910), soprano, and Giulia (1866-1941), mezzo-soprano, made their débuts at Covent Garden in Aida in 1891 and also sang in Orfeo in the same season. They were then regularly in the Harris opera seasons until 1895. Photograph by W. & D. Downey, London. Emma Eames (1855-1952), American soprano, made her début at Covent Garden in April 1891 as Marguerite in Faust and appeared successfully in leading roles in all but one of the Harris's subsequent seasons. Photograph by W. & D. Downey, London. Caricature by Alfred Bryan, The Entr’acte, 21 March 1891. Harris was elected Sheriff of the City of London in 1891 and at the time had seasons running at many different theatres which he controlled. He also owned The Sunday Times. Caricature by Alfred Bryan,  The Entr’acte, 21 July 1894.  A command performance of selections from Frederic Cowen’s opera  Signa was given at Windsor Castle on 17 July and and Sir Augustus was invited to stay at the castle overnight. Caricature by Alfred Bryan, The Entr’acte, 8 June 1895.  Adelina Patti had not sung in opera at Covent Garden for ten years when Harris invited her to sing in his 1895 season.  These were her farewell performances on the operatic stage. She sang La Traviata, Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Don Giovanni with two performances of each opera. Luigi Mancinelli (1848-1921), conductor and cellist, was the first person engaged by Harris for the 1887 Italian Opera Season at Drury Lane. He was conducting in Madrid at the time and Harris took Hermann Klein to meet him there to discuss which singers he should engage.  Mancinelli went on to conduct in all the principal Harris seasons in London  Photograph by Moreno, New York. Rosita Olitzka (1872-1949) was born in Saragossa.  Her voice could encompass true contralto parts such as Fides in Le Prophète as well as the mezzo-soprano roles Carmen and Mignon. David Bispham (1857-1921) was born in Philadelphia. Engaged by  Harris, he deputised as Kurwenal in Tristan and Isolde and passed at one bound into the ranks of distinguished baritones.  His feat of singing in German the difficult role of Kurwenal to the Tristan of Alvary was the more remarkable because it was accomplished without a single orchestral rehearsal. Gemma Bellincioni (1864-1950) created the role of Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana which she also sang in London in 1895.  She also appeared as Carmen in the same season. Albert Alvarez (1860-1933) was born in Bordeaux.  He made his début at Covent Garden in 1893 as Don José to Calvé’s Carmen and sang Faust, Romeo, and Dominique in L’Attaque du Moulin and Sgt. Araguil in the world première La Navarraise. Mathilde Bauermeister (1849-1926) was born in Hamburg. She studied at the Royal Academy of Music, London and was with Harris in all his Italian Opera Seasons. Armand Castelmary (1834-1897) was born in Toulouse. He was engaged by Harris from 1889 as primo basso and régisseur. The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane as it looked in 1896.  Photograph by Cassell & Co. The monument on the grave of Sir Augustus Harris in Brompton Cemetery.  Since the photograph was taken the bust has been stolen and the female figure has lost her hands.  His parents and siblings are buried in a family grave there, as is his grandmother, the singer Elizabeth Feron.  Emma Albani and her husband Ernest Gye are buried nearby and his friends Henry Pettitt, Paul Merritt and William Terriss also lie in the same cemetery. The Sir Augustus Harris Memorial Drinking Fountain outside the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.  The fountain was erected by public subscription and unveiled on 1 November 1897 by the Lord Mayor.  The bust was by T. Brock, RA and the overall design by Sidney R. J. Smith.