Carl Rosa Company
About Us
 - A Brief History
 - American & British
 - The Company
  American and British History

The union between the soprano Euphrosyne Parepa and the violinist Carl Rosa generated the Carl Rosa Opera Company. They travelled to American in 1865 as members of a concert troupe promoted by the Baltimore impresario Hezekiah Linthicum Bateman. They were successful, remained in America, and eventually married in New York on 26 February 1867.

Parepa was born in Edinburgh on 7 May 1836, the daughter of the English soprano Elizabeth Seguin and Georgiades de Boyesku. The Seguins were a famous musical family who had been associated with opera on both sides of the Atlantic. Parepa's uncle, the bass Arthur Seguin, had gone to America in 1838 and formed the Seguin Opera Troupe that toured the eastern states presenting opera in English.

Parepa herself had made her operatic debut at Malta in 1855 and subsequently appeared at many continental opera houses. Her London debut took place in 1857 and from 1859 her activities were largely in Britain. She took part in two operatic premieres; she created the name part in Alfred Mellon's Victorine on 19 December 1859, and that of Mabel in MacFarren's opera Helvellyn on 5 November 1864. Her many oratorio and concert appearances were, if anything, even more successful. Parepa came to America as one of Britain's leading singers.

Carl Rosa was born in Hamburg on 22 March 1842, the son of Ludwig Rose, a Hamburg businessman, and Sophie Becker. As a child he showed a remarkable talent for the violin and by seven years of age had already performed in public and began a career as a child prodigy.

In 1859 he entered the Leipzig Conservatoire where he began a lifelong friendship with fellow student Arthur Sullivan. In 1862 he attended the Paris Conservatoire, returned to lead an orchestra in his native Hamburg for a short time and then graduated to solo violinist.

The marriage coincided with Parepa's operatic debut. It was successful and she rapidly became the country's favourite singer. Two years later, Parepa and Rosa in collaboration with the Chicago impresario C D Hess, formed the Parepa Rosa English Opera Company with Carl as conductor and co-director.

They opened at the French Theatre on Fourteenth Street, New York on 11 September 1869 with a performance of Bale's opera The Puritans Daughter with Parepa in the title role. The subsequent tour successfully covered the eastern states and the Middle West with a repertoire which ranged from Bohemian Girl and Maritana to Weber's Der Freischutz and Oberon.

In the summer of 1870 they returned to Britain to rest for a season and a year later were back in America preparing for another tour without the support of Hess. This second tour (1871/72) covered the same territory but ventured into Italian and English opera with such luminaries as Charles Santely, Theodore Wachtel, and Adelaide Phillips, sharing the stage with Parepa.

The tour closed with a farewell performance at the Academy of Music, New York, on 30 April 1872 and the following day the Rosa's sailed for Europe. One year later after appearances on London and Cairo, the Rosas decided to present English Opera in Britain. They opened at the Theatre Royal Manchester on 1 September 1873 as 'Carl Rosa's English Opera'. The change of name reflected the absence of a pregnant Parepa.

The company successfully toured England and Ireland and by early 1874 was rehearsing for a London season when Parepa died tragically after giving birth to a stillborn child. The London season was cancelled and for a time the future of the company was uncertain but eventually Rosa resolved to remain in Britain and they were on the road again by the autumn.

For the next fifteen years, with Rosa at the helm, the company prospered with provincial tours and London seasons frequently in conjunction with Augustus Harris Drury Lane. Minnie Hauk, Georgina Burns, Charles Santley, Joseph Maas, Barton McGuckin, and William Ludwig were some of the famous singers associated with the company during these years.

Contemporary composers were encouraged, Pauline, (Cowen), Esmeralda (Goring-Thomas), Canterbury Pilgrims (Stanford) and Colomba (Mackenzie) were but four of the operas commissioned by the company. When Rosa died suddenly in 1889 he had demonstrated that English opera could be an artistic and financial success. The conversion to a limited liability company in 1887 facilitated continuity after Rosa's death.

Augustus Harris and then T H Friend managed the company and for a time all went well. The company gave command performances before Queen Victoria at Balmoral Castle, received a Royal Warrant and became the 'Royal Carl Rosa Opera Company'. In 1897 they gave the first British performance of Puccini's La Boheme in Manchester with the composer in the audience.

But success did not prevent financial troubles and in 1899 the leading singers reorganised the company as an artists commonwealth. A year later the organisation was taken over by Walter Van Noorden, one of the company's conductors, and his brother Alfred. The repertoire was still adventurous extending to The Apothecary (Hayden), Prince Ferelon (Gatty), Messaline (De Lara) and Joseph Holbrooke's Bronwen. There was also a tour of South 'Africa in 1937.

The company, unlike many others, survived the First World War, but the sudden death of Walter Van Noorden in April 1916 was a bitter blow. By 1920 there was more financial difficulties and Alfred Van Noorden was obliged to put the company into voluntary liquidation. Four years later control had passed to H B Phillips whose own opera company had merged with the Carl Rosa a few years earlier.

H B Phillips began by reorganising the company although the pattern of provincial tours and London seasons continued as before. His first London season in 1924 was successful. It included the legendary Eva Turner who embarked upon an international career. The repertoire was still adventurous extending to The Apothecary (Hayden), Prince Ferelon (Gatty), Messaline (De Lara) and Joseph Holbrooke's Bronwen. There was also a tour of South 'Africa in 1937.

The outbreak of war two years later curtailed touring but there were London seasons with Joan Hammond, Gwen Catley, Heddle Nash, Norman Allin, Dennis Noble, Parry Jones and Tudor Davies. The end of the war restored the traditional provincial tour but in a climate of post-war austerity.

Mrs Phillips took over the management in 1948, as her husband was unable to continue through ill health. A financial crisis in 1951 prompted the Arts Council subsidy to support further tours in an uneasy alliance with the Carl Rosa Trust. Happily, the company remained adventurous and the 1956 London season included Berlioz's Benvenuto Cellini with Charles Craig in the title role.

Two years later another financial crisis involving both the Carl Rosa and Sadler's Wells companies led to further friction with the Trust. The Arts Council controversially withdrew its subsidy and most of the Carl Rosa artists toured for the last time under the guise of 'Touring Opera 1958'. This was an unhappy ending for a cherished organisation that had been on the road for almost ninety years. The Carl Rosa tradition lived on by merging with Sadlers' Wells Opera.

Mr Carl Rosa Mr Carl Rosa

Mrs Carl Rosa
Ms Euphrosyne Parepa

Dame Eva Turner Dame Eva Turner
Madam Butterfly

Horace Vincent
Mr Horace Vincent - Faust

Dame Eva Turner Dame Eva Turner
Musetta - La Boheme

Ms Marie Roze Ms Marie Roze

Horace Vincent
Mr Horace Vincent