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Albina di Rhona

March 26, 2013

a carte de visite photograph of Albina di Rhona (fl. 1850s/1860s), the Servian actress, dancer and singer who arrived in London in 1860, in 1861 revived the fortunes of the Soho Theatre, which afterwards became the Royalty Theatre, and who the following year embarked on a brief tour of the United Kingdom
(photo: Mayer Brothers, 133 Regent Street, London, 1860 or 1861)

St. James’s Theatre, London, 26 November 1860
‘A young Servian lady, Mdlle. Albina di Rhona, who has made a great sensation in St. Petersburg, made her first appearance last night in a little sketch written for the display of her talent as a dancer. Very pretty, and with a little elegant figure, expressive face, and graceful action, Mdlle. di Rhona soon won the favour of the audience, and was greeted in each successive pas with thunders of applause. In the little skeleton of plot of the piece (which is called Smack for Smack) she personates a young French girl, who so captivates an English soldier that he foregoes for her sake a determination to avenge an insult offered by a Frenchman to his sister by boxing the ears of the French girl he encountered, and finally abstracts a kiss from the savage Briton. The Cracovienne, the Ecossaise (our old friend the Highland Fling, we thought, made fashionable for a St. James’s audience), and one or two other dances, were performed with great spirit and taste, and the young lady was well seconded by the blunt absurdities of Mr. Belmore.’
(Daily News, London, Tuesday, 27 November 1860, p. 3b)

‘St. James’s. – Mdlle. Albina di Rhona, the danseuse-sou-brette, whose performance, in private, at this theatre, we recorded a fortnight ago, made her first public appearance here on Monday evening in a semi-Anglicised version of the little vaudeville of which we spoke on that occasion. The piece, now entitled Smack for Smack, has thus the peculiar novelty of being played in French and English, for Madlle. Albina, as Fanchette, speaks only the former language, and Mr. George Belmore, who, as John Trott, takes the place of the original Prussian, supplies the other half of the dialogue with good honest Saxon vernacular. The latter individual (who during the farce attempts a comic song that might wisely be expunged), is supposed to be a soldier attached to the army of occupation in our last war with France, but he is here only used as the means of preventing the stage being wholly vacant, whilst the danseuse heightens her personal attractions by some becoming assumptions of various national costumes. The piquant style and expressive action, which we described as being the prominent characteristics of this young Servian artiste when seen by a select few, we found even more strong marked when the additional stimulus of a public performance was afforded. The sprightliness of her acting is accompanied by a dashing dexterity in her dancing, which, although not distinguished by any original features, will not be unlikely to attract the public on account of the novelty of the medium through which they are presented. At the end of the piece, which did not severely tax the patience of the auditory, Mdlle. di Rhona was called before the curtain, and, amidst a vehement expression of approval, received a further tributary acknowledgement of her success in the form of numerous bouquets from a friendly box. In fact, Mdlle. Albina di Rhona is not superior (if equal) to Miss Lydia Thompson as an actress or dancer, but dresses with similar indelicacy. The little vaudeville was preceded by the comedietta of A Loan of a Wife, and was followed by the petite drama of Mons. Jacques, and the farce of Next Door.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 2 December 1860, p. 10b)

‘Mdlle. Albina di Rhona, the ”dancing soubrette,” who first raised the Soho playhouse to the rank of a recognized theatre, and endowed it with its present title, the ”New Royalty,” has lately been exposed to serious peril. Her present calling, it seems, is that of a performer of legerdemain, and at the Salle de l’Orient, Brussels, she has been giving a series of performances, comprising the well-known trick of receiving uninjured the supposed contents of an apparently loaded pistol. One evening, when the weapon, after it had been handed round for the inspection of the public, was returned into her hands, she inserted her magic wand into the barrel, and felt it come into contact with an unexpected obstacle. She retired, and afterwards reappeared in a state of violent agitation. It subsequently transpired that some scoundrel among the spectators had slipped into the barrel a screw of about an inch in length, which, if it had not been discovered, would have killed or seriously wounded the fair enchantress.’
(The Pall Mall Gazette, London, Thursday, 29 October 1868, p. 7b)

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