VEO title 




Singers  (A - F)

(Please note that these pages are still under construction)

This section also includes people who were primarily actors but fulfilled either non singing roles, which were sometimes included in English opera of this era, or in roles that did not make great demands on vocal ability.

An article on the changing ways that female singers were titled in the first half of the 19th century can be found here.

A - F           G - L             M - S             T - Z 


Allen, Henry Robinson (1809 - 1876)
Allen was born in Cork, Ireland, where he received his early training. In 1830, his abilities earned him a free place at the Royal Academy in London. His stage debut was in a student production at the King's Theatre in 1831 but he seems to have focused on teaching as well as concert work before a visit to Italy and France, where he met many of the leading performers and composers. In particular, he received advice from Bellini about the singing of his roles and made his professional stage debut at the English Opera House as Elvino in La sonnambula in 1837. In 1838 he sang at Drury Lane but his voice was thought to be too weak for such a large theatre. His most sustained engagement was at the Princess's Theatre from 1843 to 1850, where the modest power of his voice was heard to better advantage. It was there that he created the role of Albert in Loder's The Night Dancers in 1846. By 1847, The Fine Arts Journal (p. 195) was talking of his voice being a "thing of shreds and patches, originally only of what would be called of a pretty qualirt, there is now nothing left of it". However, on the 1851 census, his occupation was noted as a vocalist, so presumably was still singing, but by the 1861 and 1871 censuses he was shown as a Professor of Singing. He also composed some ballads.

Barker, George Arthur (1812 - 1876)
According to a short obituary in the Worcestershire Chronicle (Mar. 25, 1876), Barker appeared in Lenten Oratorios in 1833 and 1834 with Braham and others. He also seems to have been at the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh, before returning for his first London operatic engagement at the St James's Theatre in 1835. He continued to sing in opera and concerts in London and the provinces before concentrating more on lecture-concerts with themes such as "Shakespeare's Songs". He also composed several popular songs, the best known probably being the music for "The Irish Emigrant".

Barnett, Morris (1800-1856)
Musician, dramatist, journalist and actor. He joined with the composer John Barnett in a very short lived attempt to set up an English Opera House at the St James's Theatre in 1838.

Bennett, James (? - 1870)
According to a letter in the Musical Standard (Jan. - July, 1870, pp.325 &328), Bennett was born in Manchester. He was a boy chorister and, after a short concert career as a tenor,  went to Italy for further training. On his return, he joined Braham at the St James's Theatre, where his singing was praised although his acting was poor. He continued in opera until an attack of typhoid led to some disablement and he returned to the concert platform and began to teach. Eventually he became Professor of Singing at the Royal Academy of Music. He also lectured and wrote on singing.

Betts, Abigail Elizabeth, (1800-1866) ( Miss Betts)

Bland, J.

Braham, John (1774-1856)

Braham was the leading tenor of his day. He was orphaned when young but then adopted by his uncle, Leoni, who recognised his vocal abilities. A busy career in concerts and the theatre followed including some composition. He also spent some time studying and singing in Italy. He made a large fortune but squandered it on the disastrous acquisition with Frederick Yates of the Regent's Park Colosseum in 1831 and the building and management of a new theatre, the St James's, in 1835. These losses forced him back on the road for many years until eventual retirement in 1852. Articles on him include: Mollie Sands.  "John Braham, Singer." Transactions (Jewish Historical Society of England), vol. 20, 1959, pp. 203–214, Frances Collingwood. "John Braham (1774?-1856)." The Musical Times, vol. 97, no. 1356, 1956, pp. 73–75, David Conway. "John Braham — from Meshorrer to Tenor." Jewish Historical Studies, vol. 41, 2007, pp. 37–61.

Braham pic
National Portrait Gallery     

Drayton, Henri (1822? - 1872)
Henri Drayton (bass/baritone) was born in Philadelphia in 1822 (some sources say 1823). He completed his training in Paris and sang on the continent for short time before establishing himself in Britain around 1850. He married the singer Susanna Lowe and they appeared together in what he titled "parlor operas" as well as English operas, including the premiere of Loder's Raymond and Agnes. His Devilshoof in The Bohemian Girl being particularly noteworthy.   In 1869, they left for the U.S. where he joined the Richings Opera Company until struck down by paralysis.  As well as singing, he wrote a number of plays and opera librettos, for example, Joseph P. Duggan's Pierre.   There is a paper on his later career entitled "Henri Drayton, English Opera and Anglo-American Relations, 1850 - 72" by Brian C. Thompson, Journal of the Royal Musical Association (Volume 136, No. 2, 2011, pp. 247-303) .

Fitzwalter, Miss
The Sunday Times (Feb. 4, 1838) claimed that she was married and that her maiden name was Trurin. She was primarily a dancer and actress, despite a speech defect, rather than a singer. According to the Sunday Times (Feb. 11, 1838), she and her sister had danced at Drury Lane some 19 or 20 years previously. She also seems to have appeared at Teignmouth in 1829. However, she claimed, in a letter quoted in the later  Sunday Times article, that her acting career began at the Olympic Theatre, which was at the beginning of 1831. She stayed there moving to the Royal Victoria (Old Vic) in June 1837. She then went to Drury Lane, back to the Olympic and then to the English Opera House.  Any mention of her ceases abruptly at the end of 1841.

Forde, Catherine Maria (Sally) (1805 - 1844)

Forde was born in Dublin in June 1805. She was a pupil of William Rooke (O'Rourke), composer of Amilie and Henrique, and made her debut in Dublin at the age of 12 as Rosetta in Arne's Love in a Village [1].  In July 1821, she made her debut at the English Opera House as Polly in The Beggar's Opera  and was the subject of admiring and optimistic articles in La Belle Assemblée (May 1822, pp 196-197) and  the Ladies Monthly Museum (November, 1822, pp. 241-242). However, although she had a steady career  from then on, appearing at almost all the major theatres, she never became one of the star singers of the time and by 1839 had gravitated to singing at the Royal Grecian Saloon and lesser places.  She  disappeared from the adverts for shows there after 1842 but briefly seems to have surfaced in Cambridge in 1843. By February 1844 she had been declared bankrupt [2] and died in July 1844 [3].

[1] Saunders's Newsletter (Dec. 65, 1817) 

[2] London Gazette (Feb. 6, 1844), p.436.

[3] Clement Scott and Cecil Howard, Life and Reminiscences of E. L. Blanchard. Vol. 1 (London: Hutchinson & Co., 1891),  p.32.

National Portrait Gallery     

Forester, Henry (1804- ?)
Primarily a comic actor who seems mainly to have performed in the London minor theatres as well as in Bristol and Bath.


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