Posts Tagged ‘Henry S. Leigh’


Victor Liston

April 18, 2013

Victor Liston (1838-1913), English music hall vocalist and comedian
(photo: photo: T. Pope, Birmingham, circa 1874)

Collins’s Music Hall, Islington Green, London
‘Mr. Victor Liston adheres to the legitimate, and sings those songs which can hardly be called new-fangled. His “shabby-genteel” impersonation is excellent. Mr. Liston sang four songs, and enjoyed a recall on the evening of our visit to Collins’s.’
(The Entr’acte, London, Saturday, 17 December 1881, p.6b)

* * * * * * * *

Too proud to beg, too honest to steal,
I know what it is to be wanting a meal;
My tatters and rags, I try to conceal,
I’m one of the Shabby Genteel.

* * * * * * * *

‘Mr Victor Liston, another favourite comic singer, made his first appearance when seventeen years old [in 1855] at a benefit at the Old Bower Saloon, Stangate Street [London]. Afterwards he sang at various of the smaller halls, such as Price’s in the Caledonian Road, which was only open on Saturday nights, and where “Billy Randall” [William Randall (1830-1898)] was very popular. Then Harry Fox [1817-1876], of the Middlesex [music hall, Drury Lane], sent Liston to Sheffield, where he played at Parker’s, where J.H. Ridley and his wife, Marie Barnum, sister to Johnny Barnum, started as duettists. After a long provincial probation, Liston returned to London and sang at the Grapes, the Coal Hole, the Cyder Cellars, the Dr Johnson, and Macdonald’s in Hoxton, where Fred Albert [1845-1886] made one of his earliest appearances. This is now used as a mission hall. One night [in 1868] Liston deputised at the old Philharmonic [Islington Green], then under the proprietorship of the late Mr Sam Adams, and made such a success with his song “Shabby Genteel” [written by Henry S. Leigh, a noted contributor to the satirical periodical Punch], that he stayed there for seven months, a ditty which Harry Clifton [1832-1872] used to sing in his “two-hours’ entertainment.” Victor Liston was also popular at the Metropolitan, Collins’s, and at Evans’s, where one night H.R.H. the Prince of Wales [later King Edward VII] brought the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland expressly to hear “Shabby Genteel.” After a five months’ successful visit to America, Liston returned to England. Among his principal songs were “The Auctioneer’s Daughter,” “Charming Arabella,” “Polly Darling,” and “Of Course it’s no Business of Mine.” The last-named was written by Arthur Lloyd [1840-1904], the others by G.W. Hunt [1851-1936]. On one occasion Liston was a member of Sam Hague’s Minstrels. He was also manager of the Bon Accord Music Hall, at Aberdeen, and “ran” halls of his own at Gloucester and Cheltenham, where George Leybourne [1842-1884] and other stars appeared.’
(Charles Douglas Stuart and A.J. Park, The Variety Stage, T. Fisher Unwin, London, 1895, pp.108 and 109)

* * * * * * * *

‘It is sad to relate that towards his end, Victor Liston became the embodiment of [“Shabby Genteel”] himself, for he met with misfortune and, dressed carefully, but in threadbare clothes trying to keep up appearances, was himself, as was the hero of his song, too often wanting a meal.’
(W. Macqueen-Pope, The Melodies Linger On, W.H. Allen, London, 1950, p.311)


Elisa Savelli

March 7, 2013

a carte de visite photograph of Elisa Savelli (sometimes Eliza Savelli, real name Miss Sewell, fl. 1870s/1880s), English soprano, who created the role of Bi-bi in the English version of Offenbach’s Vert-Vert, produced at the St. James’s Theatre, London, 2 May 1874
(photo: The London Stereoscopic & Photographic Co Ltd, London, mid 1870s)

see details of Opera Rara’s newly released 2 CD recording of Vert-Vert
‘A great success has been achieved at Milan by a young English prima donna now singing there under the name of Mdlle. Savelli. She has been received with great favour in many different rôles, especially in ”La Traviata” and ”Martha.” Mdlle. Savelli, who, in addition to her musical acquirements, is very beautiful, will probably appear in London next season.’
(The Illustrated Police News, &c, London, Saturday, 20 August 1870)

‘SIGNORA ELISA SAVELLI, Prima Donna Assoluto Soprano,
‘Has returned to London, after a brilliant and successful career of four years in Italy, singing to Milan and other Principal Cities. Will shortly appear at one of our large Theatres, being especially Engaged from Milan, to represent the Principal Par in the Opera ”Le Roi Carote.” Disengaged up till the 3d June. Apply, Mr. Carte, 20, Charing-cross.’ (The Era, London, Sunday, 12 May 1872, advertisement)

‘ALHAMBRA THEATRE ROYAL. ‘The Manager, Mr. John Baum, begs to inform the nobility and gentry that, on the 3d of June, will be produced, on a scale of magnificence hitherto unapproached in London, the Grand Opera Bouffe Feerie, LE ROI CAROTTE, in which upwards of 1,000 dresses will appear upon the stage. Music by Mons. J. Offenbach. Words translated and adapted to the English stage by Henry S. Leigh, Esq.
‘The artistes engaged include Mdlle. Elise Savelli, [Anetta] Scasi, and Cornelia D’Anka; Messrs, Selle, Connell, Warboys, and [Harry] Paulton.
‘Two Premier Danseuses, Mdlle. Nini and Bertha Linda, who will make their first appearance in London. A powerful chorus has been carefully selected, and with the magnificent Orchestra will be under the immediate direction of Mons. [Georges] Jacobi.’
(Reynolds’s Newspaper, London, Sunday, 26 May 1872, advertisement)

‘ALHAMBRA THEATRE ROYAL. -FIRST APPEARANCE of the celebrated Prima Donna Mdlle. ELISA SAVELLI, from Milan, Naples, &c. …’
(The Daily News, London, Monday, 3 June 1872, advertisement)
The Alhambra, extract from a review of Le Roi Carotte
‘… Mdlle. Cornelia D’Anka, who was Cunégonde, as usual, captivated all hearts by her handsome face and figure. Her vocal ability, too, enabled her to render good service, and it was manifestly impossible for the audience to be anything but pleased with so fascinating an artiste, even when she kept them waiting, which, we are compelled to say, she did more than once. The loving Rosee had a capital representative in Mdlle. Elisa Savelli, who was literally overwhelmed with bouquets for her rendering of a charming and plaintive air in which she envies the flowers and the birds, and sighs for release from captivity. Miss [Violet] Cameron was Coloquinte, the sorceress, and she only calls for remark by reason of the scantiness of her dress… .’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 9 June 1872)

The Alhambra, extract from a further review of Le Roi Carotte
‘… Mdlle. Elisa Savelli is also brilliantly successful as Rosee du Soir, and sings the air in the third act so well as to gain an encore, and the duet with Mdlle. Anetta Scasi, ”Guide me! guide me!” is equally successful and qually meritorious on the part of both ladies… .’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 4 August 1872)

‘Seventy-ninth Night, and during the week, LE ROI CAROTTE. Principal Characters:- Miss Kate Santley (her First Appearance), Annetta Scasi, and Elisa Savelli; Messrs F.H. Celli, E. Connell, Worboys, Robins, and Harry Paulton. 250 Coryphees. The Opera commences at 8.15; terminated at 11.40.
‘The coolest and best ventilated Theatre in London.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 1 September 1872, advertisement)

‘SIGNORA SAVELLI. – This talented vocalist, who has become quite a favourite at the Alhambra, on Monday evening, at two hours’ notice, undertook the role of Robin Wildfire in Le Roi Carotte, and created what we may truthfully term a furore. She is we understand specially engaged for the part of the Princess in The Black Crook [1st performance, Christmas Eve, 1872], now in active preparation.’
(The Era, London, Sunday, 1 December 1872)

The Alhambra, The Black Crook
‘… On the acting in the piece high praise may be bestowed, Mdlle. Savelli, who carried off the principal honours of the evening, sustains the part of Desirée with grace and skill, and is none the less impressive because she always avoids exaggeration… .’
(The Times, London, Friday, 27 December 1872

‘ITALIAN OPERA CONCERT. – A concert will be given this (Saturday) evening at the Victoria Rooms by several artistes of the Royal Italian Opera. The Brighton Gazette speaks highly of the vocal powers of Madame Savelli and Signor Brennelli, two of the artistes who will take part in the concert.’
(The Bristol Mercury and Daily Post, Bristol, Saturday, 19 September 1885)

‘Prima Donna, Soprano Dramatica, for Italian and English Opera.
‘Madame Savelli’s beautiful and artistic rendering of ”Convien Parti” (Donnizetti) was much admired, as was also her rendering of the ”Stella Confidenta,” which was enthusiastically encored. She is possessed of a magnificent soprano voice of rich and powerful quality such as is rarely heard. – Bristol Times and Mirror.
‘Address all communications to Mr Gilbert Tail, 6, York-street, Covent-garden, W.C.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 3 October 1885, advertisement)

‘On Saturday next Her Majesty’s Theatre is announced to open at popular prices, with a company selected in Italy and France. Well-known operas will be given, commencing with Il Trovatore, Faust, Rigoletto, Lucia, Il Barbiere, La Traviata, Ernani, Fra Diavolo, LaGioconda, and, later on (never performed in England), La Ione. Mesdames Savelli, Dalti, Appia, Potentini, Signori Debiliers, Mascheroni, Genoesi, Fernando, Gualterio Bolton, Tamberlik, and Brennelli, are among the engagements.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 20 February 1886)

Her Majesty’s Theatre, Haymarket…
‘Those present last night when the ”house of amber curtains” reopened its door with a performance of Verdi’s ”Il Trovatore” would scarcely have felt inclined to declare that Italian opera was a thing of the past unless some bright, particular star condescended to brighten it with her presence, for a large and friendly audience had gathered together to hear this old and hackneyed work, who certainly were not attracted by any particular bright star, seeing there was nothing of the sort upon the premises… . The heroine was, vocally speaking, well rendered by a Madame Elisa Savelli, who, if we are not mistaken, some fifteen years or so since was known as a Miss Sewell. Time has, however, not improved her personal appearance, as she is now considerably too broad for her length, and, in the bridal dress of which satin, bore a curious resemblance to Miss Minnie Warren, the wife of General Tom Thumb. Being accommodated with a tall, stern lady as a made of honour (Mdlle. Corona) made this lack of symmetry all the more apparent… .
(Reynolds’s Newspaper, London, Sunday, 28 February 1886

Her Majesty’s Theatre
‘… In Saturday’s representation Madame Savelli was cast for Leonora, and Signor Fernando for her ill-fated troubadour lover; … In her performance as Leonora Madame Savelli displayed considerable vocal and dramatic power in the declamatory portions of her music, with an occasional tendency to exaggerated effort and a strained use of her upper notes. She was favourably received throughout, especially in the great scenes with Manrico and the Count… .’
(The Daily News, London, Monday, 1 March 1886

London, Sunday Night
‘Her Majesty’s Theatre was re-opened last night for a season of Italian opera at cheap prices… . The Leonora was, curiously enough, taken from the Alhambra, where she sang some years ago as Mdlle. Savelli, the foreign equivalent of her own English name of Miss Sewell. Although still in fairly good voice the lady has now attained well night the physical proportions of a Titiens and Parepa combined, and her appearance in bridal costume was irresistibly comical… .’
(The Glasgow Herald, Glasgow, Monday, 1 Marcy 1886)

‘On Saturday night, during the performance of Il Trovatore at Her Majesty’s, a mishap occurred which, but for the presence of mind of certain individuals, might have resulted in serious consequences to Madame Savelli, the Leonora of the evening. Madame Savelli’s figure is not exactly like Madame Sarah Bernhardt’s, and in moving backwards to execute a fall at the end of the opera she tumbled ”all of a heap” beneath the ponderous roller of the descending curtain, and had not the stage-manager and an attendant run forward and dragged her out of her dangerous position, she might have been seriously injured. The audience expressed their sympathy with Madame Savelli’s narrow escape by calling her enthusiastically before the curtain.’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 6 March 1886)

Il Trovatore, Her Majesty’s, Saturday, 27 February 1886
‘… Without ranking ourselves with those unimaginative individuals who cannot overlook certain personal disqualifications for a role when its rendering is illuminated by genius, we must say that we had to ”make believe very much” indeed to accept a portly, matronly lady of Madame Savelli’s physique as an ideal Leonora. There is something cruet, to our thinking, in calling upon a person of Madame Savelli’s liberal proportions and limited dramatic and vocal acquirements, to face a London audience in such a part. No one felt more keenly than ourselves the failure of the singer to reach the higher notes of her role, and to embody the emotional characteristics of the heroine; and no one sympathised more with the lady in her difficulty in assuming kneeling and falling attitudes. The fault, we felt, was not so much hers as that of those who permitted her to appear in a wrong position – literally and metaphorically… .’
(The Era, London, Saturday, 6 March 1886)