Monday, May 28, 2018

Moses supposes ... H M Imano stripped bare ...


In the forty years or so that I’ve been wandering in the musical and theatrical world, the name ‘H M Imano’ has popped up intermittently, all over the place. But never very prominently, and so I never took time out to investigate this man who sounded as if he were pretending to be the King of the Japanese. His Majesty the Imano. The Mikado. The Marquis Imari. But he did keep popping up. And, today, he popped one more time … He turned up in a list of folk that my friend and fellow scholar George had sent in response to my call for suggested subjects for investigation and bloggery. So, I thought, your Mikado-ish Majesty, your day has come.

It is, of course, a stage name. And it is not oriental, it is supposed to be Italian. Signor Imano. ‘Signor Imano, the great American basso’. Every word a lie. He wasn’t a Signor, he wasn’t an Imano, he wasn’t American, he was a baritone, and, alas, ‘great’ was a great exaggeration.

‘Henry Morris Imano’ was born 28 March 1853: a Cornish Jew from Spitalfields, the son of John or Jacob Hyman from Falmouth and his wife Frances née Phillips, and his birth name was, after his grandfather, plain Moses Hyman. Looking through the censi, one can see that Jacob was a sort of security man at the London docks (‘dock constable’, ‘dockgate keeper’), and eventually (1881) a synagogue attendant, and that by 1871, Moses was listed as a clerk.

However, in 1872, 19 year-old Moses quit the family home, and took a steerage passage, seemingly alone, on the good shipEgypt to America. He arrived 18 April and settled in Brooklyn, where it rather seems that he worked as a shoemaker. But he also took part in amateur concerts and dramatics. I see him first in December 1874 and April 1875 singing at concerts organised by the Lafayette Council OUAM, then in 1876 acting at Smith’s Lyceum with the amateur Centennial Dramatic Society. In 1877 (12 April) he appeared at New York’s Irving Hall with the, amateur again, Mozart Musical Union. In 1878, I spot him at Summerfield M E Church (‘Mr H M Hyman will sing ‘Nancy Lee’) with a reciter and two sisters duetting – presumably on piano – Beethoven 5.

Around this same time, Mose became a church singer. I see him at Dr Cuyler’s Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church and at Dr Armitage’s Church on 46thStreet and Fifth Avenue, as the bass member of the professional quartets then hired in fashionable places of ‘worship’. I also see him joining a bowling club … so perhaps he is not the Henry Hyman, born England c 1852, shoemaker of Eldridge Street who married Bertha Joel and shows up in the 1880 census. Or is he?

The next three years are, sadly, a bit of a blank. A decade later ‘Henry’ would give an interview to the colonial press in which he related having appeared with John Duff’s companies. The Standard Theatre included. You’ll have to check your Norton for that. Microsoft has zapped all my Broadway files for that era, and Norton, like Odell and the Gänzls are too hefty to take en voyage. You might find, too, when he became ‘Signor Imano’.

I can just supply a little notice in the American trade press saying, in July 1885 that the Signor is leaving the Washington summer season company and going back to Britain. I wonder why, after 13 years. But he went.

He got some engagements. He was hired to sing at the International Inventions Exhibition concert, alongside a bunch of folk of whom I recognise the names only of Eleanor Farnol and Llew (sic) Cadwaladr, then at the so-called Albert Palace in Battersea Park with ‘Benjamin White, the new tenor’ (who?) and a future star in Annie Marriott. He appeared at Northampton’s Monday concerts (‘The Monk’, ‘The Fisherman’) and at Liverpool in one of the many concerts he shared with the pianist J Bond Andrews and the cellist Pozniaski. In March he went to sing with the Dublin Glee Choir … which is where the byline ‘great American basso’ crept in.

In 1886, he was sparsely seen – his own concert was given in a Sassoon home in Belgrave Square, and top-billed Ben Davies and the sad soprano Gertrude Griswold, plus Bond Andrews and Pozniaski – until he was hired for the Empire Theatre. The Empire had flopped under Claude Marius and had been rescued by the venue’s caterer. Somebody decided to relaunch it with a cut-down version of Le Postillon de Longjumeau and H M Imano was cast as Bijou to the Postillon of Henry Walsham. The whole thing was a disaster, and Mose’s London theatre debut didn’t last many nights.

Mose (or shall we call him ‘Henry’) sang at the Crystal Palace and the Covent Garden proms where the other bass-baritones were Frederic King and W H Brereton (‘has an excellent voice undoubtedly but it is in the rough and his style lacks finish’) and shortly after won an engagement with Mr D’Oyly Carte. Over the next year, he played Pooh Bah in The Mikado and the Major in Patience in Britain and on the Continent. 

Back in Britain, his only appearances seem to have been in variety and at clubs and smoking concerts, until in June 1888 he took and engagement with Johnnie Sheridan to go to the Orient. Apparently,  the company played four months in Shanghai, with a repertoire of 27 pieces and much success, but alas I have no details. From China, Sheridan continued to Australia (Count Meraggio in Fun on the Bristol&c) where his basso was picked up by the Williamson, Garner and Musgrove management (Sherwood in Dorothy) with which he travelled to New Zealand (Dorothy,Meryll in Yeomen of the Guard, Pippo in La Mascotte, Major in Patience, Florian in Princess Ida, concerts ‘Pro Peccatis’, ‘Nazareth’) . He played again in New Zealand with Sheridan, until in July 1891 he set sail for America.

What he did there is part of my Microsoftegg … but one thing he did, 22 January 1892, was get married. (Again?). The lady was Gertrude Noel, and I haven’t investigated her, but she died aged 35 (25 Chepstow Place, Bayswater 13 May 1899) …

Over the next few years I see him playing in New York in a musical Jupiter with Digby Bell, then touring with the once great baritone, W T Carleton, now reduced to no3 dates, and .. what is this? Innes and his New York Band present at Ann Arbour the musical spectacle War and Peacewith artillery ,, and Henry-Mose as bass soloist!

That was 1894. They went back to England shortly thereafter. ‘H M Imano’ appeared in a the Kiralfy spectacular Indiaat Earl’s Court, Cinderellaat Newcastle (1896) .. before taking to booming out baritone ballads in the music hall (‘The Wolf’, ‘The Drum’) all the way to the country’s premier hall, the Oxford. In 1897 he was ‘the evil spirit, Aconite’ in Cinderellaat Liverpool and then went on tour as Albertoni in the hit musical The Circus Girl (ex-Cartesian Kate Talby was Lady Dora). A stint in an Osmond Carr musical, The Celestials, proved fruitless, even more so a Dalston piece, The Lady Philosopher (1898)starring old colleague Aida Jenoure, and it was back to panto at Bradford.

When the Boer war hit, he did the halls with ‘The Absent Minded Beggar’, he gave a matinée ‘under the patronage of the Savage Club’ (June 1900) … and in 1902 he remarried, Miss Miriam Isabel Davis.

He continued to work … halls, panto, the odd musical (My Lady Mollyas ‘the Landlord’) … there are probably yonks of credits in my books and notes … but, anyway, there’s the bones of it.

Henry-Mose died 26 March 1907 at 34 Nottingham Place Marylebone Road. His last wife survived him by 20 years …

So, there you are. Just about everything we needed or wanted (or not) to know about ‘H M Imano’. And Mose Hyman. I wonder if he really was the Brooklyn Jewish shoemaker … that would make three wives ..

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Cartesian players: What a lot of Wilkinsons!

George’s second request to me was … to sort out the Wilkinsons. You know, Arthur, John, Laura, Ben, Poppie … that lot. So I started (after a morning wasted on the mysterious Kate Talby) … and, immediately, I thought ‘I’ve done this before’. Then, after an hour or so, I remembered why. The only problem was to FIND my ancient research among the heaps of files which the cursed Microsoft has rendered out of date and unreadable …

Opened my first lime, and found it. OK. I’m not going to deal with their careers. They were largely D’Oyly Cartesian, and that means David Stone has done the leg work there. I’ll just set the record straight as to who they actually were. Not difficult, for all, except ‘John Benjamin W’ of the D’Oyly Carte (died 7 November 1891), were from the same family. And real Wilkinsons. Arthur and John were brothers, John married Laura and sired 'Poppie'.

Now, I wasn’t ‘into’ the D’Oyly Cartesians ten years ago. That only started last month. So why did I delve out the details on the Wilkinsons? Answer: their father. Their father is for me the family star. I shall post his little Kurtbiog on my blog and my Author facebook page (both open to allcomers), but because he predates DO’C … here, I shall just give chapter and verse.

Ralph Wilkinson, organist, married (first wife) Julia Peel Westrop in 1856, and from that marriage were born, in quick order:
(1)           Ralph Westrop Wilkinson 
(2)           Arthur John Haigh Wilkinson
(3)           Julia Annie St Leger Wilkinson (Mrs John Thomas Simpson)
(4)           John Edward Wilkinson
(5)           Jessie Wilkinson
(6)           Alfred Wilkinson

All christened at St Maurice, York, father’s birth-town … before Ralph went up to the big smoke. 

I haven’t followed up the girls, but three of the boys went in for music. Ralph jr was a star choirboy at St James’s chapel royal, but his (mental) health let him down and he ended up a young pensionnaire of Bethlehem asylum. Arthur (b York 27 August 1859; killed Liverpool 31 March 1894) had a grand career with an unhappy traffic-accident ending, and John (x York 3 March 1861; d Northampton 20 February 1910) became a Big G&S Star in Buenos Aires before, also, an untimely death.

Arthur as Major Murgatroyd

John as Robin Oakapple
John had time to wed, and he wed (Hastings 1883) a fellow D’Oyly Cartesian, ‘Laura Elliston’. Elliston was not likely to be a kosher name in the theatre, and of course her actual name was Laura Alderton. I haven’t followed her up (being only a tardy Wilkinson) but I’m sure she traces easily. They promptly had a daughter, the above-said Poppie who doesn’t appear as such, amongst the Pollys and Phoebes, in the British records. And that's the 20th century, which is outside my knowledge.

So, not very exciting, but precise. OK, George? Is that what you wanted? 


Saturday, May 26, 2018

A French Pan Treat! or, the meal of the year ...

 We have a new restaurant in the Kiosk block in our street. A French restaurant. I think, chuckle, I might have mentioned it before. Of course, I, as a demi-semi-Frenchman (especially when it comes to food) am delighted. But it could have been a two-edged sword. If it had been old-fashioned French, with all those rich sauces … or if it had been mock-French, or MacDonalds French …

Well, as I’ve recounted: I and my friend Robert – the Statler and Waldorf of Yamba – put a toe in, then a foot, then half-a-leg … and I put a very definite ‘like’ on the facebook page of the French Pan Tree.

A few days later, this turned up on my time line …

Whaaaaat! A 14-kilo Jewfish, fresh from the ocean … on the menu tonight!

Statler and Waldorf had a nice gin (I have fresh Yamba lime, Robert likes tonic) and then met up and headed for Kiosk Street. 

Well, a nice bottle of Chablis … then a boeuf tartare … lovely! Not mince, but delicious little ‘bites’, all oiled and herbied … with the wine, it keeps you luxuriating for 15 minutes! That’s food!  And then the Main Event. This is what chef Charlie extracted from that huge beast. The best piece of fish I’ve eaten in … now, don’t exaggerate, Kurt … well, as good as any, ever. That’s 72 years of ever.

 We relaxed with a second glass of Chablis, then called for the cheese. I very rarely eat desserts, I prefer to take my curtain call with cheese. And this was Real French Cheese. I know, there are some excellent local cheeses here (six or seven of them are, right now, oozing on the top of my fridge … ON never in), but … well, French for the memory of the days when Ian andI went marketing for 500g of Conté, 500g of Cantal, 500g …

A little glass of calvados ..

But there’s one thing I can’t visit this restaurant without tasting. The home-made pâté. Well, since it didn’t fit with my meal, I bought some to take home. It’s sitting on top of the fridge next to the local cheese …

The French Pan Tree is sending me droolworthy pictures … but I must eat all this lovely market food I’ve stocked in! 

Once a week to Kiosk Street! Well, maybe twice …. 

Friday, May 25, 2018

Old Adam: or, when talent skips a generation


Today's request. Here you are, George ...


Was born Richard Horatio Marriott 1847 in Manchester, the illegitimate son of star actress Alice Marriott, undoubtedly not by her later (1856) husband Irishman Robert Edgar who, around this time, was lessee of the Adelphi Theatre, Liverpool and theatres in Wigan and St Helen’s, and ‘married’ to the actress Anna Newby. Anna died aged 29, in Lancaster lunatic asylum.

Richard’s life in the theatre was persistent if modest. From his teens, he acted as acting manager for his mother, at Sadler’s Wells, in America, and on tour in England, performing minor roles when needed. He had perhaps his most noteworthy moment in the theatrical world when he joined Charles Collette in putting together the successful vehicle for the comedian entitled Cryptoconchoidsyphonostomata in 1875.

He tried himself as a music-hall comic, went bankrupt trying to run the Theatre Royal, Rochdale, turned out a Comic Historie of Heraldry, played in touring companies (Imprudence &c), and, for a few years, between 1887-9 played with D’Oyly Carte’s touring companies in The Mikado (Pish Tush) and Ruddigore (Old Adam). He promoted ‘Richard Edgar’s Comedy Company’ in the 1890s. 
He died at 40 Weltje Rd Hammersmith 29 Sept 1894.

Son Richard can be seen running an Islington bottle-store in 1901 along with mother, two brothers and a sister. Son George, would go on to be known as ‘Marriott Edgar’ (1880-1851) and have a career as a writer ('Albert and the Lion', the hit musical Jill Darling). The novelist ‘[Richard Horatio] Edgar Wallace’ was apparently his illegitimate son ‘born in poverty…’ 1 April 1875, to an actress in the Marriott  company. A week earlier Richard had married musician’s daughter, Jane Taylor (1856-1937).

Mr Temple of the Savoy ... and lots of other places, too

TEMPLE, Richard [COBB, Richard Barker]  (b London 2 March 1846; d Charing Cross Hospital, London 19 October 1912)

Richard Temple is a well-known name in the history of the musical theatre, thanks to his long service in the companies of Richard D’Oyly Carte. But his career did exist for nearly a decade before the coming of Messrs Sullivan and Gilbert, and last for another, after the end of his famous career at the Savoy Theatre.

Richard was born in London, the first son of stockbroker Richard Cobb, from Yorkshire, and his wife Eliza Barker (m 20 March 1845) and began his life as a clerk and cashier in a bank. He partook of amateur dramatics, and I spot him in 1868 (9 April) taking part as an actor (‘remarkably animated and voluble’) in a performance ofThe Foster Sister staged at the Haymarket Theatre by Thomas Coe, the city’s foremost acting teacher. One imagines that young Richard (‘Temple’ already) was a pupil.

Even before that, however, I have spotted him singing at the St Patrick’s Benevolent Fund’s beanfeast of 1867 along with the decidedly professional concourse of Rose Hersee, Ellen Lyon, Chaplin Henry and Montem Smith.

He made his professional stage debut in 1869 (31 May) in George Perren’s English opera season at the Crystal Palace, playing Rodolpho in La Sonnambula alongside Perren and Blanche Cole (‘he is evidently a beginner as far as acting is concerned’, ‘a good voice’, ‘Mr Temple’s time to make a strong impression is yet to come’) and went on to sing in Lucia di Lammermoor, as Pablo in The Rose of Castille and the King in Maritana between June and November.
After a few suburban concerts, he joined up with Stanley Betjemann’s little touring opera, playing the popular repertoire on the minor circuits with Fanny Heywood, Bessie Emmett, Bessie Palmer and Furneaux Cook. In February, Betjemann ventured his troupe to London’s St George’s Hall to play Faust and Maritana. Temple was Mephistopheles and the King, and had now joined the management.

When the Crystal Palace operas recommenced in April, he returned to play Rodolpho, the King, Father Tom in The Lily of Killarney, and the Sheriff in Martha, dashing off to Croydon or Portsea between times to sing Luna or Arnheim for Betjemann.

In 1871, he sang a Messiah at the cheap St George’s Hall concerts at which he shared the music with Bessie Emmett, Reed Larwill and a Miss Kennett, but most particularly with ‘electric light’. In March of the year, he trekked to Nottingham where Perren was trying out local composer T Luard Selby’s opera Adela with a view to its production at the Crystal Palace. It didn’t come.

Temple had a full book in 1871: he appeared in concert and in opera (The Night Dancers, The Bohemian Girl etc) at the Crystal Palace, he made further appearance at St George’s Hall, usually with Bessie and illustrating with oratorio excerpts some learned lecture, he appeared at the Alfred Theatre in operetta (Lost and Found) and then the couple – for they were evidently now a couple -- joined up with a little company put together by Fred Sullivan to play Levey’s Punchinello (Marquis), Cox and Box (Bouncer), Breaking the Spell (Old Matthew) et al at Manchester and Liverpool. The musical director for the opening night of the tiny troupe was Arthur Sullivan.

Back to London for The Night Dancers and Il Trovatore with Florence Lancia at Crystal Palace, then on to the St James’s Theatre where Rose Hersee was launching her Royal National Opera. He played Don Pedro and Devilshoof in the unfortunate season, before Miss Hersee took to the road and headed for a season in Dublin. Temple was cast as Mephistopheles, Figaro, Devilshoof et al.

1872 started less busily: the St George’s Hall People’s Concerts and lectures, Rivière’s proms at Cremorne Gardens, until in May he apparently returned to Liverpool, where a rip-off Henry Hersee version of the hit opéra-bouffe Geneviève de Brabant was being put on. But he left quickly as the botched show crumbled. But opéra-bouffe was the rage, and Mr Temple seemed to suit its combination of fine vocalising and robust burlesque acting: he moved instead to the Alhambra to succeed to the role of Pippertrunk in the spectacular Le Roi Carotte, and then to the Opera Comique to play the comic gendarme, Gérome, in L’Oeil crevé.

In the new year, he switched briefly back to opera to sing a season with Blanche Cole in Dublin, before (‘late of the English opera company’) joining Julia Mathews in the same city to play opéra-bouffe in the provinces (General Boum, the wizard in Letty the Basketmaker, The Bohemian Girl, The Beggar’s Opera)   until she chucked her whole repertoire to play the gimmick show of the hour, Kissi Kissi.
Mr Temple went back to London, between times, and turned up in April at the Gaiety, playing his habitual role of the King in Maritana alongside Perren and Mme Lancia.

The new hit musical in town was La Fille de Madame Angot, and Mr Temple was not tardy in getting himself and his wife (for he had wed Miss Emmett in Liverpool in 1872) into roles in that show. He played the comic Larivaudière with Emily Soldene at the Gaiety, and then moved to the original production at the Philharmonic to succeed Johnnie Rouse in the same role and then back to Soldene again when she moved the production to the Opera Comique. He caused a splash in the press, when – on the illness of Dick Beverley, who was playing the high-baritone hero, Ange Pitou – he stepped in and made a fine fist of the role.

He was still singing cantatas and oratorio from Brixton to Bow, and in August 1874 he took another turn with Hersee/Perren opera group, but he turned inexorably back to the lighter genre with his Crystal Palace Operetta Company (Once too Often, The Sleeping Queen) and later in the year he took the role of Pluto –alongside Fred Sullivan as Mercury – in the burlesque Ixion Re-wheeled at the Opera Comique as well as appearing in the 1-acters Breaking the Spell and The Love Birds at the Alexandra Palace.

Dublin saw him once more in opera in mid-1875, but then he took over the Philharmonic Theatre – once the glorious home of Soldene and Geneviève de Brabant– to try to repeat the coup with an adaptation of Offenbach’s Les Géorgiennes. He himself took the role of Rhododendron Pasha and directed both that piece and The Zoo as an afterpiece. The show had a mediocre career, adding to a sad year for Temple. His young wife had died 9 May in childbirth.

In 1876, he turned up as Robin in The Waterman, as Bouncer – repeatedly – in Cox and Box, played opera in Dublin once more (Figaro, Devilshoof, Mephistopheles, Don Florio etc) and in Leicester (Caspar in Der Freischützwith Elliot Galer), and comic opera in Manchester when he created the role of Buckingham in Alfred Cellier’s Nell Gwynne and Liverpool, where he played the title-role in the same composer’s The Sultan of Mocha. He also played at the Globe Theatre in Solomon’s little A Will With Vengeance (Carlo Maloni).

Dublin persisted in casting him in opera, and he visited for a short season in March 1877 with Annie Tonnellier, but then it was back to the lighter stage, and – in spite of still being in debt to the Philharmonic – to a dabble with Cellier in production: Temple’s own version of Geneviève de Brabant with Connie Loseby and Emily Cross, and sister ‘Maria Temple’ (who had been in the chorus of Gilbert and Clay’s Princess Toto) among the cast.

The venture did not last long, and Temple returned to the safety of Blanche Cole, George Perren and Rose Hersee, with their mostly unmoving repertoire of English opera performances at the Crystal Palace, the Alexandra Palace and other venues. 

But Temple’s moment was coming. He was cast in the role of Sir Marmaduke in The Sorcerer, and his relationship with D’Oyly Carte, like that with Sullivan and Cellier, already years old, was cemented. Teamed with the star of the show, Mrs Howard Paul, he scored a success within the success of the show, and sealed his position as part of what would eventually become ‘the Savoy team’. Dick Deadeye in HMS Pinafore, The Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance, Colonel Calverley in Patience, Strephon in Iolanthe. Arac in Princess Ida, the title-role in The Mikado, Sir Roderic in Ruddigore, Sergeant Meryll in The Yeomen of the Guard, plus a number of forepieces, gave him nearly a decade of career…
After refusing the limp role of Luiz in The Gondoliers,he left the Savoy company, but returned from time to time, in London, New York or on the road, to play mostly his original roles.

However, during his time at the Savoy he took plenty of time out for other ventures. He produced an opera season in Dublin in 1879, gave ‘Richard Temple’s Dramatic Recital’ at Peckham in 1881, and the following month took the part of King Portico in a revival of Princess Toto. He played operetta at the Opera Comique (Lovers’ Knots, Quid pro quo) and visited Manchester to create the role of King James in The Lancashire Witches, as well as playing the part of Abdallah in the tryout of Solomon’s Lord Bateman. In September 1882, he returned briefly to the opera, and in 1883 he floated the opera season at the Crystal Palace, seemingly to allow himself to play the role of Rigoletto. 19 May 1886, he remounted that piece at the Gaiety Theatre.

Trial by Jury and, endlessly, Cox and Box at matinees, directing amateurs in Ireland and Gretna Green at the Comedy, giving ‘Ship on Fire’ at the Aquarium and making a music-hall debut at The Trocadero with ‘The Footman’s Lament’ by Fred Bowyer and Georg Jacobi ‘character songs illustrating various phases of a flunkey’s life’, a tour with The Nautch Girl (Pyjama), New York for The Gondoliers (as Giuseppe) and another attempt at being an impresario with a version of Gounod’s Le Medecin malgré lui. A curious choice, commented the press, but clearly made to allow Temple to play Sgnarelle, alongside Susetta Fenn and Effie Chapuy. It was tried at Islington (24 November 1892), then the Globe, sent on the road and later given a performance at the Crystal Palace. He also tried a version of Mozart’s Schauspielendirekor as L’Impresario (Crystal Palace 18 October 1892).

In 1892 he was appointed to the Royal College of Music, where he produced a number of operas with the students (Orphée, his own adaptation of Le Roi l’a dit, Falstaff),and later fulfilled a similar function at the London College of Music (Il Matrimonio segreto, Die beiden Schützen)

But he still continued to perform on the musical stage (Lord Silvertop in The Golden Web, George in Miami, replacing Colin Coop as Sid Fakah in the musical comedy Morocco Bound, taking over as the Baron in Mirette, The Chieftain at the Savoy) as well as producing, directing and starring in a new piece entitled Wapping Old Stairs (Dick Fid, 17 February 1894) which lived a brief life at the Vaudeville Theatre.

He fulfilled a certain amount of work as a director (The Red Spider, Shamus O’Brien) and also set himself up as a reciter. I spot him doing a not very convincing Athaliewith the Queen’s Hall Choir, but his own ‘musical and dramatic recitals’ seemed to go down quite well.

In the 1900s, he appeared in a flop musical The Gay Pretenders, and a Christmas piece, Little Hans Andersen (1903, King of the Copper Castle) which William Greet staged with members of the Savoy Company, and as late as 1906 as Mr Burchell in the comic opera version of The Vicar of Wakefield. In between time, and up till 1909, he still played intermittently at the Savoy.

It had been a busy career, but when Temple fell ill, and became an invalid, the cupboard was bare. Several theatricals subscribed to a fund for him, but when he died at Charing Cross Hospital in 1912 it was, reportedly, ‘in dire poverty’.

His first wife Bessie EMMETT [EMMETT, Elizabeth Ellen] (b 43 Store Street, London 3 August 1846, d 96 Lyndhurst Rd., Peckham 9 May 1875), the daughter of an East End cabinet maker, studied music with J T Calkin and made her debut at the Boosey Ballad Concerts, 4 March 1868, singing her master’s ‘You are Going Willie’ and ‘My mother bids me bind my hair’. She made her first stage appearance with Betjemann under the name of ‘Amy Leigh’ but soon reverted to her real name. She sang second soprano to Fanny Heywood (Siebel, Lisa etc) and was Siebel in the St George’s Hall performance of Faust. She soon took over as prima donna.
From here on, her career was largely in tandem with Temple’s. She played with the Sullivan company, and with Rose Hersee (Leonora, Rosina, Agathe, Lisa, Lazarillo, Gipsy Queen, Nancy). With the Julia Mathews company, she played the Gipsy Queen and Wanda in La Grande-Duchesse.
In 1873 she took over the part of Eurydice in Orphée aux enfers at the National Theatre for John Hollingshead, and then succeeded to the role of Clairette, and subsequently to that of Lange, in the original La Fille de Madame Angot at the Philharmonic Theatre. She repeated the role of Clairette opposite Emily Soldene.
She returned to opera when the couple joined Hersee and Perren (Leonora, Eily), took part in the Crystal Palace Operetta Company performances, played Polly Peachum in The Beggar’s Opera opposite Sims Reeves, and went to Manchester to create the role of Dolly in The Sultan of Mocha.
There is no doubting that the attractive young woman with the uncomplicated, sweet soprano and acting style was ripe for a big career as a light opera leading lady.
She died in childbirth ‘of peritonitis’ at 28 years of age.

The couple’s first son, Richard [William Emmett] TEMPLE jr [COBB] (b 96 Lyndhurst Rd, Camberwell 25 October 1872; d NYC 14 October 1954) made a fine career as a leading man in musical comedy in Britain and latterly in America, playing latterly roles in revivals of the Savoy repertoire. He was the husband of musical theatre star Evie Greene.

PS Richard did not remain a widower. We see him in the 1881 census living with a 'wife' Maria, aged 29 born Kensington, as well as mother and singing sister, Maria. Then, in 1891, he re-entered the ranks of the officially married when he wed Annie Marie Davis, who is clearly the same lady who was 'Maria' in 1881. In 1901 and 1911, she is 'Marie'.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The other Mr Temple: from 'Pinafore' to 'Grand Duke'


Temple. Why did so many performers choose the stage-name ‘Temple’? From Mrs Harriet Major of Exeter Hall and the Italian opera, to endless little chorus girls and of course the celebrated Savoyard known as Richard Temple. But there was, of course, another ‘Temple’ who played in many of the Gilbert and Sullivan comic operas, at the Opera Comique, the Savoy, and in the provinces.  He was not a veritable ’Temple’ either, but neither was he a performer to be ignored. It’s my theory that George Temple has suffered a bit from the  big Cartesian shadow cast by Richard, so I thought I’d bring him out of the shadows for once. Because he’s an interesting chap. A versatile actor and capable vocalist, who has the particularity of playing in whole lot more Gilbert than Sullivan.

There was no secret that ‘George Temple’ was born James George Rexworthy, in Clifton, Gloucestershire, in early 1842, the son of James Hill Rexworthy (1811-1865), a brush maker and his wife Eliza née Edwards (1809-1887). The family can be seen in Bristol in the 1851 and 1861 census, with the daughters into sewing, brother John an assistant pawnbroker and George an apprentice brush maker.

While he brushed, George also sang, and I get the odd glimpse in the press of Mr Rexworthy in concert: at the Hannah More School (5 March 1861), with E Brison & Co’s Artizans’ Band at the Broadmead Rooms (24 February 1863), at Mr and Mrs Brennan’s concert at Henham (‘Nil desperandum’, ‘Suoni la tromba’ September 1864), with the Bristol Ethiopian Serenaders at Chipping Sodbury (October 1864), Walter Fisher’s concert (4 September 1865) …

However, by 1865, George Rexworthy had given up his father’s trade, and had become the lessee of the Old Duke Tavern, wine and spirit vaults, in King Street. He had also married (with some local fanfare) Mrs Harriet Bedford née Wedlake. The marriage would last longer than the pub. On 7 August 1867, George went bankrupt. And within months had launched himself on a stage career: as Mr George Temple. 

His first engagement seems to have been at one of Glasgow’s minor houses, the Royal Colosseum and Opera House, where I see him playing George Peyton in The Octoroon in March 1868. He spent six months with the company (Squire Langley in The Gipsy Sailor, Ray Trafford in Under the Gaslight, The Miller and his men &c) in Glasgow and Paisley, before moving on to Newcastle. At Christmas he played Snowfall to the Robinson Crusoe of Lady Don.

George quickly found his way to London, securing an engagement for the company at Bradwell and Field’s newly revamped Charing Cross Theatre. He began as Jackson Goodchild in the drama Edendale (‘especial praise is due …’), but although he was billed for the accompanying burlesque W S Gilbert’s The Pretty Druidess, I think Richard Barker played the only male role. Emily Fowler then took over the management, and George was retained. He played Faust to her Mephisto in Very Little Faust and More Mephistopheles, and carried on through Won at Last, Little Fibs, Room for the Ladies, Twin Sisters, Illusions … but was not cast in the musical The Gentleman in Black. By W S Gilbert.

He played the rest of 1870 at the Globe (Captain Dudley de Vigne in Ecarté, King Dawdle in The White Cat, took a turn with Edward Sothern to Newcastle, and then joined Emily Thorne’s company, playing The Palace of Truth. By W S Gilbert. He was cast as Prince Philamir, and went on to play the role with the Kendals at Liverpool.
He returned to the Charing Cross as Rochefort in Shadows (‘roars of laughter’), visited the Prince’s, Manchester, to play The Merchant of Venice with Charles Calvert, and joined the Company at London’s Gaiety Theatre for a season (Ralph in Shilly ShallyArragh na Pogue with Boucicault). During this time he evinced a seemingly photographic memory... There were many matinées – tryouts, vanities, Benefits – played in the London theatres of the time: George took part in an unconscionable number of such one-off performances and would continue to do so.

His next engagement, however, was anything but a one-off. Covent Garden mounted a vast, no expense spared, opéra-bouffe féerie entitled Babil and Bijou and George was cast in a featured spot as Lord Dundreary ‘expressed in action not in speech’. An imitation of Sothern which apparently was most successful. He also played a little forepiece No One Round the Cornerwith Gaston Murray. After another trip to Manchester, and an appearance as Tom Pogson in Henry Byron’s Time’s Triumph, he appeared briefly at the Queen’s Theatre in Black-Eyed Susan, at the Crystal Palace as Hastings in She Stoops to Conquer and Captain Absolute in The Rivals before joining the company at the Haymarket (Ben in The Heir at Law)then the Globe with Harry Montague (Family Jars, Faint Heart Never Won Fair Lady, Still Waters Run Deep, The Rendezvous, Two Flats and a Sharp, Fred Fairfoot in Wig and Gown, Meacock in Our Clerks and the Adelphi this time as Dick Dowlais in The Heir at Law(‘the very best piece of acting he has yet given us’).

Between 1874-5 he returned to the Haymarket for a goodly stint with Sothern: Lt Vernon in Our American Cousin, Charles Surface, Captain Absolute, Young Marlowe, Dundreary Married and Settled, after which the Charing Cross in Brought to Book, the Opera Comique as Sir Edward Mortimer in A Tempting Bait and as Gnatbrain with Pattie Oliver and Danvers in Black-Eyed Susan and in 1876 the Gaiety again (Tottles, Fortunio, Charley Garner in Dearer than Life, Joe Lennard in Uncle Dick’s Darling, Sebastian to the Malvolio of Phelps in Twelfth Night, Francis in The Stranger &c). He ended at the Gaiety in August 1876, and set out on tour with Mr and Mrs Chippendale’s Comedy Company playing the Haymarket repertoire. He appeared in Liverpool (Freemantle in Stolen Kisses) and at Newcastle where his roles ranged from Hawkshaw in The Ticket of Leave Man via Hamlet and Richard III to the King in Hop o’ my Thumb with Rebecca Isaacs …

It can be clearly seen that Mr George Temple, actor, who, up till now, had made very little use of Mr Rexworthy’s ‘fine baritone voice’, was altogether more successful than had been Mr Rexworthy, as a brushmaker and publican. And he seemed to be able to play any kind of role -- straight juveniles, comic juveniles, husbands serious and comical, pantomime Kings or clowns – in any kind of play, dramatic or comic, and in the very best of company – Toole, Brough, Montague, Sothern et al – and in theatres such as the Haymarket, the Gaiety or the Manchester Prince’s.

But I think something must have happened in 1877. Between March and November, I lose him. And when he surfaces, he is a member of the company at the distinctly second-rate rate Park Theatre. For something like a year, he played everything imaginable at the Park – classics, Shakespeare, Mazeppa, Tom Tug in The Waterman, pantomime with Rose Bell, William in Black-Eyed Susan, Peep o’Day and even the title-role in the barely successful comic opera, Pom which Mdlle Bell had played on the road… and then I lose him again.

Well, one thing that seems to have happened was that his marriage had died. Mrs Rexworthy was still living at 42 Gaisford Street, Kentish Town, their long-time home, but Mr Rexworthy was down at 7 High Street, Bloomsbury where he would be joined by an ‘Annie Temple, musician’ in the 1891 census. In the 1881 George is censused at both addresses. Hmmm.

When I do pick up George again, in 1879, he has an unusual (for him) job. Mr D’Oyly Carte was staging a five weeks’ season at the Standard and Park (aha!?) Theatres of his Opera Comique hit HMS Pinafore. He plucked his cast for the occasion from here and there (and that’s a whole other story) and as Captain Corcoran he hired George Temple. He ‘did himself credit both as a vocalist and an actor’, and Carte promptly moved him to the main production. Conventional wisdom says he went to replace a holidaying Rutland Barrington as Corcoran, but the cast-lists ‘under the clock’ seem to indicate that it was Richard Temple who was on holiday. All these Temples! As confusing as Abu Simbel. At one stage both, and Barrington, are all ‘under the clock’.

He went out briefly on tour as Corcoran, with Emilie Petrelli and James A Meade, but returned to the Opera Comique, playing in the afterpieces After All and In the Sulks and, doubtless, covering. Thus, he was on hand when The Pirates of Penzancewas given its London production, and he was cast in the role of Samuel. His name appeared in the cast list right next to Richard Temple, as the Pirate King, and I’m sure 12 year-old I was not the only one who assumed they were related. George deputised for Richard on occasion, and ‘poured the pirate sherry’ for the run of the show.

Aside: when will someone stage Pirateswith the men drinking their aristocratic sherry from sherry glasses instead of beer-tankards?

One would have thought there might have been a role for George in Patience,to follow, but he was off to join the cast of La Boulangère at the Globe, appearing as the Commissioner of Police (‘decidedly comic’) and as Samuel Pribble its companion comedy Seeing Frou-Frou. When the Offenbach piece failed to run, he switched to the Alhambra and its mish-mash of The Bronze Horse, and then back to the Opera Comique (Jamilek in Princess TotoQuid pro Quo with Emily Cross, Jacaway in The Mother-in-law,Vulcan in Pluto, Bosun in Wreck of the Pinafore). 

1883 seems to have been a lean year, unless I have missed something. I see him only in more matinee tryouts. 1884 saw him in Edgar Bruce’s unfortunate revival of The Palace of Truth at the new Prince’s Theatre. Kyrle Bellew played George’s old part of the Prince. He was Zoram. But not for long. He was off north to play Count Pomposo in a new musical entitled Estrella. Estrella is yet another story.

He joined Herman Vezin as the Sieur de Beringhan (‘played his part really well’) in Richelieu at the Imperial, went north to play Leonard Lavender in Harry Paulton’s Lilies,went on tour with Mrs Saker to play Pygmalion in Gilbert’s Pygmalion and Galatea with an insufficient May Fortescue, toured in Thomas Thorne’s Open House and joined Willie Edouin and Li Brough at the Novelty inMoneybags … but nothing seemed to last for long. And all the time there were these matinee try-outs and vanities …

1886 saw him engaged by Claude Marius for the Empire Theatre, where he played in the songs-and-scenery shows Round the World (Wolfe the captain of the Henrietta) and The Palace of Pearl, before he developed a relationship with Miss Priscilla Cartland (Mrs Murray). One item says he was her ‘teacher’, but she had been long on the stage. But ‘Miss Grace Hawthorne’ was from Bangor, Maine, so maybe he was teaching her to speak English. Anyway, he was at the lady’s side when she took the Olympic Theatre, and played Maurice de la Tour to her ‘Miss Multon’ when she produced an adaptation of that French play as The Governess. It was judged well-done, but too grim. He had a less good role as Wilfred Meredith in A Ring of Iron before Miss Hawthorne’s season ended. She would go wildly bankrupt for some 3000 pounds.

The following year, he returned to comic opera, touring for Carte first, it seems, as a brief Pooh Bah, and then as an excellent Sir Despard to the Margaret of Annie Montelli. That saw him through 1887, but there was a gap before he joined a second-rate touring troupe of Les Manteaux noirs (‘a pillar of strength’ as Don Phillip). In 1889, he appeared in the tryout of a Faddimir (Baron Krazinski) of which the only retrospective point is that it was the debut of lyricist ‘Adrian Ross’, and joined the Carl Rosa troupe at the Prince of Wales. Another musical, the antiquated Gretna Green (Justice Nettle), was not a success.

In 1890 he was recalled by Carte, to introduce the Duke of Plaza Toro to America. But America didn’t care for The Gondoliers, and George returned home ilico presto to give his Duke to the British provinces and, in place of the original, Frank Wyatt, at the Savoy Theatre. But there still was not a semi-permanent spot for him in the Carte ranks. At Christmas he went to Drury Lane, where, alongside Vesta Tilley, Belle Bilton and Dan Leno he gave ‘Hush, the Bogie’ as the King of Beauty and the Beast until April.

And then he is AWOL again. But this time I know where he went. South Africa. I don’t have the details, but when I was researching ‘Agnes delaPorte’ I found her down under singing in Rip van Winkle with George in the title-role.

In 1893 he was back, touring as the Marquis in Captain Thérèsewith Miss Emmott Herbert, in 1884 in something called Held in Slavery! before in October he took the role of A Sentry in His Excellency (libretto: W S Gilbert) at the Lyric Theatre.

He must have like South Africa, for the following year he returned. With May Fortescue. Details unknown. But the manager was Luscombe Searelle, composer of The Wreck of the Pinafore and Estrella!

Back in London, he took his last major job, touring for Carte, once more, playing Ben Hashbaz in The Grand Duke. The end of that tour, November 1896, was virtually the end of George’s career.  He played the odd matinee, and even went out in a lowbrow piece called The Sorrows of Satan ..

J G Rexworthy, ka Temple, died back home in Clifton, Bristol, at Lower Redland Road, of heart failure 8 December 1899. His seemingly abandoned wife had died the year before. I don’t know what happened to ‘Annie Temple’. But someone called 'Julie' left a fond death notice ..

Well, five pages. But he deserves it. A thorough Victorian man of the theatre. From Charles Surface to ‘Hush the Bogie’. Via the G&S catalogue, from Pinafore to Grand Duke …

I like Mr Rexworthy!