Caroline Hatchard - A voice without
by Charles A Hooey
permission from the York Symphony Orchestra
"Der kleine Taumann heiss'ich..." and with
those words, "I'm called the little Dew Man," Caroline Hatchard
sang her way into Royal Opera legend. Those Garden faithful
present for Hansel Und Gretel on 12 May, 1907 would have witnessed
their country's first home-grown and trained soprano debut....with
just a hint surely of dew in her eyes.
Thus began Caroline Hatchard's long and distinguished
career involving all facets of music. Pleasure derived from
a record of hers triggered research into her life; this translated
into a biography for 'The Record Collector', but as the RC
caters to international readers, much of her effort in English
music was omitted. That aspect is offered here.
When "Caroline Gertrude" was born in Portsmouth
on 12 October, 1883, she became the fourth of five daughters
that Lilian and George Hatchard would have, and with no sons.
As they watched their girls mature, they realised something
unusual was happening. Four were decidedly musical, whereas
they, the parents, were just as decidedly not! Especially gifted
was Carrie whose amazing voice dazzled everyone.
The Hatchards were quite enlightened, so once
she reached her seventeenth year and liked opera, they cast
Victorian constraints aside and sought out well-off friend,
Albert Holly, so she could enrol at the Royal Academy of Music
in London. Arriving on 24 September, 1900, she found a lively
lot of aspirants, including would-be composers, Arnold Bax,
Hubert Bath, Eric Coates, Montague Phillips and York Bowen;
all would no doubt influence her own love of English music.
She studied at the Academy for five years under
Agnes Larkcom, a much revered teacher whose fierce demeanour
belied a desire to see her charges succeed. After earning both
the Rutson and Melba Prizes, she became Academy darling and
lead soprano in RAM concerts usually at Queen's Hall.
Professionally, Henry Wood was first to spot
her talent, and had her sing Mozart and Sullivan on his Proms
Concert of 7 September, 1904. She recorded "Orpheus with his
lute" in 1911, making it a likely first recording. In her thirteen
Proms, she sang well known arias and songs by Henry Bishop,
Guy d'Hardelot, Ernest Newton, Coningsby Clarke, Constance
Lambert, Florence Aylward, Arnold Bax, John Alden Carpenter
and others, each time augmenting her credentials.
* ".. among English singers for light and flexible
music." as Samuel Langford wrote about Caroline in The Creation
At those Queen's Hall concerts, she sang music
by Liszt and her principal, Sir Alexander Mackenzie, but it
was music by Hubert C, Bath, her scholarly colleague, that
pleased her especially. On 26 June, 1905, she and soprano Zelie
Pelluet sang Psyche's Departure, a cantata Bath fashioned from
a poem of Mrs. Hemans. Then of a concert on 15 December, The
Musical Times wrote, "Another pleasing performance was Miss
Hatchard and Mr. John Bardsley's rendering of the charming
Dream Scene from the Principal's Rose Of Sharon."
After graduating, she sang concerts and oratorio
until late in 1906, when she joined the cast of Les Merveilleuses
or The Wonder Women, a musical that had played at Daly's Theatre
since October. As Mariette she sang with Louis Bradfield on
several occasions until the show closed in May. Her success
attracted Covent Garden and they signed her.
Now the stage was set for her Dew Man, the
Shepherd in Tannhauser and later, roles in Armide, La Traviata
and Faust as the Royal Opera relished its prize. Auburn-haired,
slim and svelte with vivacious smile, she was truly a hit.
At season's end, she took to musical comedy
again at the Apollo Theatre on 21 August as Pervenche in The
Three Kisses to banter with smoothies, both Walters, Hyde and
Towards year end, she appeared in the Ninth
Patron's Chamber Concert in Bechstein (now Wigmore) Hall in
another piece by Bath, his Four Rossetti Sonnets for Voices,
Pianoforte and String Quartet "
the text had been well
chosen, and the spirit of the lines pervades the melodious,
imaginative and admirably-written music." With Bath at the
piano, Caroline, Fielding Roselle, Maurice d'Oisly and Cecil
Now across her path strode Frederic Cowen,
a prolific Victorian composer and bon vivant, whose Rose Maiden,
as his last flowering of youth, was dedicated to soprano friend, "Tietens." As
Cowen hoped, it worked itself quickly into the hearts of English
choral societies. Caroline sang The Maiden in The Three Towns
on 19 February, 1908 with perfectly balanced support from the
Bodwin Philharmonic Society Choir, led by A. H. Baker. Cowen,
she encountered again in Bradford on 11 February, 1916 as they
presented Verdi's Requiem.
January, 1908 saw the Royal Opera launch its
monumental Wagner Ring cycle in English and amongst the predominantly
English cast, Caroline held her own in four roles.
That autumn she joined Peter Dawson, Palgrave
Turner and Albert Watson as Madame Liza Lehmann's Concert Party
to tour, singing Lehmann's music exclusively. In 1885, Liza
Lehmann began a career as a concert soprano and was doing well
but, after nine years, she switched to her first love, composing.
A wise move obviously for her first major piece in 1896, In
A Persian Garden, was sensationally received. It became the
prime work as the group set out to visit colourful ports of
call such as Exeter and Torquay. In Plymouth, Caroline gave
a sympathetic rendering of "I sent my soul" and "Each morn
a thousand roses brings," imparting deep feeling into the closing
line, "but where leaves the rose of yesterday?" An encore, "If
no one ever marries me" truly amused audience members, especially
those who knew she was soon to wed. (In Collins CD of Lehmann
music soprano, Janice Watson sings it beautifully.)
After reprising her Ring roles at the Garden
early in 1909, she went to Kettering on 22 April to join bass
Charles Knowles in Hero And Leander by Dr. Harford Lloyd. Parry's
popular Blessed Pair Of Sirens rounded out the evening.
Unquestionably she had laboured well and true
for the Royal Opera, but always in support roles. Why were
there never leading parts for her? It really was no secret.
The fickle public wanted to hear foreign artists in these roles.
It is sad to think prejudice could rule such matters. In a
more advanced and wiser time, her unique talent would have
been recognised, nurtured and her voice enjoyed for many years.
After the Royal Opera repeated its Ring in
1910 at the Edinburgh Festival, Caroline decided to make a
change. She cast her lot with young, up-and-coming Thomas Beecham,
who promised key roles, first with his Opéra-Comique
Company and then on tour. Beecham first let her shine on 24
July, 1910, as the saucy colleen Kitty in Stanford's opera
Shamus O'Brien, a drama set during the turmoil that ensued
after the Irish Rebellion of 1798. It concerned a volatile
patriot and his efforts to avoid capture...and he succeeded,
thanks to Kitty. Hamish MacCunn conducted.
That summer, she sang Olympia in Offenbach's
Tales Of Hoffmann on twenty-two occasions, took part in the
English Premiere of Richard Strauss's Feuersnot and sang in
a single outing of Mozart's Impresario. On tour, she sang Olympia
and Antonia in Tales Of Hoffmann and Rosalinda in Fledermaus.
In Huddersfield on 3 March, 1911, she sang
in Sullivan's Martyr of Antioch, a clash of faith (and will)
that caused sparks to fly between a Christian Margarita (Caroline)
and pagan Roman Olybius (Alfred Heather). Phyllis Lett and
Herbert Brown sang alongside Carrie with the Huddersfield Choral
Society all conducted by Sir Henry Coward. Then, in Baron Trenck
which opened at the Whitney Theatre, Aldwych on 19 May, she
became a bewitching Countess Lydia, at her wit's end over the
constant dallying of her rapscallion lover, Trenck (Walter
Hyde). The press said she "acts interestingly, but her voice,
admirably and so easily used by turns for comedy, tenderness
and passion, would win its way anywhere."
For a Balfour Gardiner concert in Queen's Hall
on 13 March, 1912, "the two Carries," Hatchard and Tubb, teamed
with the London Choral Society to sing Enchanted Summer by
Arnold Bax. In this magical setting of Shelley's Prometheus
Unbound, the orchestration evoked memories of Debussy while
the vocal writing enriched its orchestral fabric. In the end,
it proved both fanciful and intriguing.
On 28 March she sang in the Norwich Cathedral..
Verdi's Requiem with ominous portent for anyone bound next
for Southampton, 300 KMs away and passage aboard
She attended a special concert on 22 June that
year to celebrate the Official Opening of the Royal Academy
of Music's new building on Marylebone Road. She paid homage
to her harmony master, Dr. John McEwen, by singing three of
his songs: "Brevity," "Song of Autumn" and "Love's But a Dance."
In September of 1913, she joined the provincial
opera tour Ernst Denhof was organising. As is well known, this
venture ran into grief at the outset but thanks to the resourceful
TB, it was able to resume and become a smash success and part
of opera lore. Caroline sang Sophia in Strauss's Rosenkavalier,
Queen of the Night in Magic Flute by Mozart, the Forest Bird
in Siegfried and Eva in Mastersingers.
The exotic, richly textured music of Samuel
Coleridge-Taylor entered her days early in 1914 when she appeared
in excerpts of Hiawatha and A Tale Of Old Japan in Bournemouth.
In 1911, the composer had become enthralled by the vivid musical
colouring he had instilled in a poem of Alfred Noyes that he
declared, "We'll have a motor car yet, Jess, from A Tale Of
Old Japan." Sadly, it was not to be; he died in 1912, aged
37. Caroline never forgot C-T's music and in 1931, chose Hiawatha
as her farewell in Liverpool.
The first of five trips north to Hull on 6
March, 1914, brought that City's music followers out to hear
her premiere Persephone by local composer H. Ernest Nichol.
Conductor Walter Porter also performed his own "To Night."
Belgian organist Gabriel Pierné proudly
conducted the English Premiere of his new work, The Children's
Crusade on 15 December, 1914 in Liverpool. It concerned religiously-deranged
children in The Middle Ages who insisted on taking perilous
journeys to the Holy Land. Caroline found the high lying music
of Alain tailor-made to her voice, while Harrison and Radford
were ideal in their assignments.
The British public wanted her to sing oratorio;
consequently she sang endless Messiahs and Elijahs, Bach's
Mass In B Minor and St. Matthew Passion, Handel's Judas Maccabeus,
L'allegro, Israel In Egypt and Acis and Galatea and The Creation
by Haydn. There was diversion as Margarita in Faust in 1916
and Micaela in Carmen in 1918.
Beecham decided she would make a sensational
partner for Frank Mullings in The Critic, an opera Stanford
based on Sheridan's comedy. Indeed, when it opened at the Shaftesbury
Theatre on 14 January 1916, she enjoyed jousting with her "fierce-looking
and bulky lover, Don Whiskerandos." Walter Sichel, veteran
patron and Sheridan devotee, wrote, "Your Tilburina is infinitely
the best I have ever seen and you preserved so delicately (and
demurely) the boundary-line between pathos and bathos. Bravissima!"
In terms of Elgar's music, she sang in King
Olaf and The Apostles but perhaps she is best remembered for
her inspired rendition of his war trilogy, The Spirit Of England,
which she first sang in Manchester on 15 December 1917 and
then throughout Britain in subsequent months.
In the 1920s, she brought life to music by
lesser known British composers. In Barry on 2 May 1920, she
tackled a double bill comprising The Martyrs, a cantata of
admired organist and choirmaster, John Maunder, and The Galley
Slave by Welsh composer David Jenkins, who enjoyed slipping
glorious Welsh choral music into his hymns and cantatas. Solos
were by Caroline, Sydney Coltham, David Brazell and the Male
Voice Choir. Then in Bolton on 1 February, 1922, she created "a
strong impression" in The Annunciation by Alick MacLean, with
compadres Rachel Hunt, William Hayle, John Booth, the Choral
Union and Hallé, led by Thomas Booth.
In Huddersfield, Choral conductor Henry Coward
mounted the podium on 3 March, 1922 to present Sir Hubert Parry's
Judith. He drew glorious music from the Choral Society, Caroline,
John Perry, Muriel Brunskill and Horace Stevens. Parry's followers
loved his traditional melodies but cooler heads rated it little
more than "second-rate Mendelssohn." Caroline drew praise for
her exquisitely-phrased solos.
A frequent participant in complete performances
of Sullivan's The Golden Legend, she included the glorious
finale in a concert at the Brighton Dome on 30 December, 1922,
causing a critic to observe, "..the ripe emotional beauty ..
with Miss Hatchard's wondrous voice thrilling always sweetly,
sometimes ecstatically, (shone) through the richness of its
choral and orchestral expression. Here was Sir Arthur Sullivan
at his best."
In 1925, Dame Ethel Smyth's much-neglected
Mass In D was lovingly presented in Albert Hall with Caroline,
Astra Desmond, Archibald Winter and Herbert Heyner with Malcolm
Sargent conducting. She sang the Mass again in November in
Sheffield under Coward with Roy Henderson and Joseph Green.
The Mass In D assumed special status in Albert
Hall on 24 November, 1928, as the central piece in a Grand
Gala on behalf of "the Cause of Women." Although Her Majesty
Queen Mary was present, the star of the occasion was clearly
Dame Ethel herself, basking in so much unexpected acclaim.
Caroline sang with Astra Desmond, Parry Jones and Stuart Robertson
while Dame Ethel conducted or was it Sargent? In fact both
may have had a hand. "..especially notable was Miss Caroline
Hatchard's rendering of the 'Benedictus' with concomitant chorus." The
audience roared its approval while critics applauded its "religious
fervour, individual musical merit and clever orchestration." The
Musical Times said "It is clear the work is winning its way
by its own power."
Scotland welcomed the delightful Carrie on
6 February, 1924 to sing Elgar's King Olaf in Caird Hall, Dundee
with John Booth, Robert Burnett, the Choral Union and the Scottish
Orchestra. Then, with composer David Stephens conducting, they
sang his new cantata Sir Patrick Spens.
As a radio pioneer, she sang first in a concert
broadcast from Birmingham on 5 November, 1924. Then, she became
a key person in early radio when a new technique was explored
on 29 August, 1926 . Britons tuning in heard the Band, Drums
and Fifes and Bugles of the Lancashire Fusiliers in a Von Suppé Overture
from Dover and then, from the studio, the pure, dulcet tones
of Caroline Hatchard, sparkling in a Bach aria and songs by
Stanford, Bantock, Scott and Sullivan.
The following year in a broadcast of The Water
Lily by her old ally, now "Sir" Frederic Cowen, she sang Ina,
the Egyptian Princess, who appears in a dream to Sir Galahad
(Geoffrey Dams) as "a lovely face in the heart of a water-lily." En
route to rendezvous with him, her ship is sunk by a capricious
magician, Merlin (Roy Henderson) and she is presumed lost.
Merlin however, relents, rescues Ina and restores her to Galahad's
side in time for a rapturous finale. Braithwaite led a group
of lively Cardiff musicians.
(A CD from Marco Polo serves up Cowen's best
known orchestral music but his vocal works continue to languish.)
Like any English soprano worth her salt, Caroline
sang Polly in John Gay's The Beggar's Opera as on 8 March 1928
with the Halifax Choral Society. The next day in Newport, she
took part in a broadcast of Parry's War And Peace with Dorothy
d'Orsay, Parry Jones, Thorpe Bates and the Choral Society,
led by Arthur Sims. Part way through, she sang "Blow, trumpets,
blow, solemnly, sadly blow" to show the war tailing off and
then immediately, "Ring the tidings far and wide!" as a prelude
to peace. She added Sullivan songs for good measure. A second
performance went ahead a week later.
As her career wound down, The Early Spring
Sun, a new work for solo, chorus and orchestra by Dr. Harold
Lake was performed by the Plymouth Madrigal Society on 27 February
1929, and was well received. Caroline was the soloist.
In retrospect, by responding so loyally to
the entreaties of provincial England, Caroline had neglected
the musical establishment in London. Consequently, they remained
blissfully unaware of her accomplishments which no doubt results
in the uninformed opinion of her worth today.
When she sang in Manchester, which was often,
the Guardian's severe but much respected critic Samuel Langford
was usually present. He knew talent and often expressed himself
in superlatives. For a Brand Lane Concert, he wrote of her
as having, "the most full-throated altissimo voice," whereas
for a Messiah on 5 December 1926, he wrote." It was one of
those fortunate evenings when we may think the voice of Miss
Caroline Hatchard the only soprano voice in England..."
When it came to making phonograph records,
her dislike was unshakeable as she firmly believed the quaint
process could not possibly capture her voice in realistic sound.
Nonetheless she was enticed into the recording studios in 1909-1911
and again 1921-1923 to cut a total of 27 discs, of which only
21 were released. As for the others, all multi-singer efforts,
their whereabouts is not known.
The discs represent her art and reflect her
love of British music: right in the forefront are lovely songs
by Löhr, Clarke, Lehmann and Sullivan, two songs from
The Arcadians, an aria from Haydn's Creation, a song from Sir
Edward German's Tom Jones and perhaps her finest, "Sweet Bird" from
Handel's L'Allegro - this heartfelt version surpasses Melba's
in overall beauty. There are three Gilbert and Sullivan arias
and for mainstream crowd, operatic arias by Offenbach, Delibes,
Verdi, Thomas, Meyerbeer and Donizetti ..and, finally, a Tosti
gem. Sixty minutes of pure delight.
Despite her reservations, these discs played
at proper speed reveal a luscious lyric soprano with an easy,
even coloratura extension and interpretations that are well
defined and always musical. Be prepared for some of the most
beautiful sounds ever to emerge from a female throat.
But the 78 rpm discs are exceedingly rare.
Cassette copies may be obtained from specialist dealers but
hopefully a CD will be issued soon. Her legacy lives on in
grandson, Roger Langford, a baritone singing opera, oratorio
and in concert.
Had she chosen that route, it is likely that
Caroline would have conquered the world's operatic stages.
Instead she was content to accept the cheers of provincial
England and then travel home to enjoy traditional family life
with husband Robert and their two sons. If there were regrets,
she never spoke of them. She knew she had devoted much time
and energy to English music and to her, that was just fine.
She was in her eighty-eighth year when she died on 7 January
© Charles A. Hooey
"A VOICE WITHOUT EQUAL" -
HITS THE OPERATIC TRAIL
by Charles A. Hooey
Welcome once more to the fascinating world
of Caroline Hatchard. In previous articles I described how,
this glorious soprano from Portsmouth was seen to excel in
British music; now she sings opera superbly on tour for Thomas
Beecham. A fresh look at this event reveals the vital part
these two artists played in its ultimate success.
Just four years free of college, Caroline was
riding the coat-tails of the young marvel Beecham as he sought
to kindle an interest in opera amongst fellow Brits. A company,
cast in the image of the famed Opéra-Comique in Paris
would do the job, he thought. With an attractive love story,
music of an eminently tuneful and graceful nature, and romantic
and humorous situations without count, how could he lose?
He launched his enterprise on 12 May 1910 within
the cosy confines of His Majesty's Theatre in London, the opera
being Offenbach's LES CONTES D'HOFFMANN in a sparkling new
English-language version by Edward Agate. It was popular instantly.
SHAMUS O'BRIEN followed, then FEUERSNOT, THE IMPRESARIO and
others, all thoroughly inventive affairs. Not all paid their
way though, then family coffers looked after overruns.
As he explained to THE MUSICAL STANDARD, "the
summer season was throughout an English season, with all-English
artists and an all-English chorus, with the exception, I think
of two members...I have maintained from the beginning, and
I maintain still, that the day has long gone by for talking
of British artists in a semi-apologetic tone because they happen
to be British-born. I contend that there are in the United
Kingdom a great number of men and women who possess remarkable
talent.." One of the truly blessed was Caroline Hatchard whose
Olympia in HOFFMANN had been a particular delight to everyone
for weeks on end.
When those words appeared on 3 September, Beecham
already was extending his dream into the provinces with a team
that would present two "tuneful lightweights," as he called
them, HOFFMANN and DIE FLEDERMAUS. The latter was known at
first as THE BAT, but soon it became "A VIENNESE MASQUERADE" and
then it was dropped, HOFFMANN being given exclusively. Six
evening and one or two matinee performances were meted out
weekly in thirteen cities during the autumn segment with fourteen
more after Christmas. (For details see the Chart.)
Some cities experienced one or both for the
first time. Other travelling companies had come and gone but
none such as Beecham's, 100 person strong with 40 in the orchestra,
had provided music of finer quality and precision. With his
heavy commitment at Covent Garden and elsewhere, he could not
take part personally although at one point he may have conducted.
As his manager, he chose Thomas Quinlan. If any singer attained
stardom during this time, it was surely Miss Hatchard for she
pleased as Olympia and as Rosalinde. While so many reviews
proclaiming the same message may seem a tad tedious, the point
is this: Can there be any doubt about Caroline's greatness
as a singer?
Her regular tenor partner was old friend John
Bardsley. They had studied together at the Royal Academy of
Music, where in July 1903, she was awarded the Melba Prize
for sopranos, he the Maas Memorial Prize. At the outset as
both Hoffmann and Eisenstein, Bardsley was the company workhorse
along with Hamish MacCunn who conducted both operas. MacCunn
soon relinquished FLEDERMAUS in favour of Howard Carr, a promising
young composer who wielded a baton for a living.
Their escapades began in Blackpool on 5 September
1910, good words preceding their coming. "This tour has been
awaited expectantly by all opera lovers throughout the country,
and Blackpool audiences receives the first visit." And, as
to their expectations for Caroline, THE GAZETTE NEWS expounded: "The
difficult role of the doll in `THE TALES OF HOFFMANN' is taken
by Miss Caroline Hatchard, an operatic soprano who is fast
winning fame, and who has sung in important roles in Grand
Opera at Covent Garden as well as in the Beecham operas. Miss
Hatchard began as a concert singer at the age of sixteen, but
her success in opera has been so great that she has now by
all intents abandoned the concert platform. The range of her
voice is very exceptional for a soprano, being from low G to
D in alt, with sustained passages of great beauty in each portion
of the compass."
On a perfect evening holidayers streamed into
Her Majesty's Opera House, anticipating the wonders of a Beecham-inspired
opera. MacCunn stepped up to conduct THE TALES OF HOFFMANN
with a cast that resembled London's.
Hoffmann John Bardsley Giulietta Edith
Nicklausse Ruby Gray Antonia Beatrice La Palme
Dr. Mirakel Charles Magrath Crespel Frederick
Coppelius Charles Magrath Spalanzani M. R.
Dapertutto W. J. Samuell Schlemil Cecil Pearson
Olympia Caroline Hatchard 3 Servants H. Scott
The following day, newspapers were full of
praise, with THE HERALD AND FYLDE ADVERTISER leading the way: "John
Bardsley made a splendid Hoffmann now the merry roisterer and
now the passionate lover...Beatrice La Palme's portrayal of
the tragic Antonia was a striking performance.. Caroline Hatchard's
presentation of Olympia, the automaton, was the essence of
daintiness, and her 'Song of the Heart' was enthusiastically
encored. It was a song of trills and cadenzas, light and blithesome,
and it showed off a sweet voice to perfection. Her stiff doll-like
movements were remarkably realistic...Edith Evans' Giulietta
is played with an appropriate abandon and passion, and her
singing is quite what one expected from such a gifted artist." Of
Caroline THE TIMES wrote, "Miss Hatchard, about whom a North
Pier audience raved on her appearance there, sang the florid
music beautifully, and went through the traditional doll-like
movements without a smile." William Samuel, or "W J" as he
preferred, possessed a gorgeous high baritone that he used
with exceptional skill, more than usual in such a youthful
artist. His singing of Dapertutto in Blackpool gave him the
role for the duration.
The next evening THE BAT took flight with much
the same crew and MacCunn again at the helm.
Eisenstein John Bardsley Orlofsky Ruby
Rosalinde Caroline Hatchard Alfred Alfred Heather
Dr. Falke Frederick Ranalow Blind H.
Frank M. R. Morand Ivan Cecil Pearson
Adele Beatrice La Palme Frosch Montague Alliston
Molly Gladys Ancrum
In THE HERALD's view, "Strauss's intensely
diverting comic opera "DIE FLEDERMAUS" (THE BAT)..afforded
three hours' ceaseless amusement and enjoyment to a large and
enthusiastic audience. The music throughout is charming, full
of captivating melodies, and the fun is most infectious. As
an entertainment for a seaside holiday crowd, it is one of
An immense welcome greeted their arrival in
Belfast on 12 September..first the press lauded Beecham: "..a
ray of hope for those who love the art so well .. has been
provided by Mr. Thomas Beecham who, quite recently, has pluckily
taken up the task of popularising good comic opera and musical
plays." To THE NORTHERN WHIG: "Mr. Beecham has not set himself
to excel in production or to present the most advanced modern
work, so much as to reveal the beauties of comparatively little-known
masterpieces that have lain neglected whilst other pieces perhaps
of less merit but more on the vogue enjoyed brilliant success...he
introduces to Belfast for the first time the TALES OF HOFFMANN,
which was presented with signal success last night. The presentation
was beyond all praise, and it was a real joy to have light
opera, interpreted with such elaboration, by a magnificent
orchestra, and a chorus composed exclusively of tried artists."
THE IRISH NEWS AND BELFAST MORNING NEWS recognised
that Caroline "had a very exacting part both as regards singing
and acting as the doll, Olympia, but her impersonification
was all that could be desired. Her voice is of a delicious,
rounded quality, and though the range required for the part
was of astonishing greatness, she never seemed to strain in
the slightest. The spasmodic automatic motions of the doll
were splendidly done." To THE NEWS-LETTER "The part of Olympia
is one which calls for talent of a high order, because of the
restraint which is imposed on the artist, who has to do her
best to convince the audience, as well as Hoffmann, that she
is nothing more than a mere piece of mechanism created by the
wily old Spalanzani. Miss Caroline Hatchard, who filled the
role, has a voice which is remarkable for its purity and evenness.
She has a marvellous register, but even more important is the
flexibility of the voice and the effective manner in which
she uses it to give meaning and vitality to the works she sings."
In turn, THE EVENING TELEGRAPH saw her "as
a most clever and delightful doll. Her lovely voice had the
right impersonal, colourless quality - all of a piece with
the mechanism that would run down and the oil-can that lubricated
the stiff joints - such pretty joints too. The facial immobility
and fixed stare of the eyes were well kept up. All the unreal
reality of the part was there. Her song was encored and the
easy, fluent vocalism fully deserved that." Such was the extent
and warmth of Belfast's reception.
Moving on to Dublin they read in THE MAIL: "Nothing
could have been more perfect than Miss Caroline Hatchard's
Olympia--she was, as one might say on this side of the water,
the doll to the life. Her frizzy bright hair, her wide staring
blue eyes, her waxen arms, and expressiveless face gave extraordinary
effect to this unusual and fascinating part. It would be no
compliment to say that Miss Hatchard sang with expression,
for she did not. She is too fine an artiste to give expression
in music which is intended to be machine-made. Her vocalism,
however, was beautifully clear, and her pronunciation splendid."
THE FREEMAN'S JOURNAL felt "The Olympia of
Miss Caroline Hatchard will always remain in one's memory as
a remarkable impersonation, for she had a curious task to grapple
with as the mechanical doll. She has a great register and much
flexibility of voice. The staccato method of her singing and
the admirably simulated suggestion of mechanical movement should
no doubt have convinced Hoffmann of his blunder in falling
in love with her were it not for these marvellous spectacles...(Even)
the genuine tapestry furniture, quite correct for the period,
was supplied by a well-known Dublin firm."
The Company then moved to south-east London
to begin a two week stint at the Kennington Theatre on 26 September.
What happened here is anyone's guess as the theatre was heavily
bombed in World War II, all records being lost or dispersed.
Quinlan's hardies appeared next in Manchester
on 10 October where Samuel Langford of THE GUARDIAN, so often
severe as scion of musical scribes in the mid-west, was perhaps
hearing Caroline for the first time. Over the next sixteen
or so years until his death, he would remain her most fervent
admirer. He simply loved to hear her sing. This time he wrote, "Miss
Caroline Hatchard, as the mechanical doll supposed by the hero
Hoffmann to be the daughter of the scientist Spalanzani, although
she gave away many points of good singing to preserve the illusion
of mechanism, sang in a delightful way. We do not know just
how many times her famous song was encored, but the oftener
she was `wound up' the higher the pitch of enthusiasm to which
the audience was wound up also." In FLEDERMAUS, "Miss Caroline
Hatchard sang and acted conscientiously" with Wilson Pembroke
as Eisenstein. Adele was now sung by Kate Anderson replacing
Beatrice La Palme and Carr conducted.
The company opened in Glasgow with HOFFMANN
at the King's Theatre on 17 October: "Last night's audience
was certainly of encouraging size and encouraging also was
the reception it gave to Offenbach's interesting opera." With
French-Canadian Miss La Palme, now departed to other climes,
Edith Evans sang both Antonia and Giulietta.
On to Edinburgh, where "Mr. Thomas Beecham
.. has made a name for himself.. (as) a man who spends money
on his opera schemes, by which the public benefits.." As for
the opera itself, THE EVENING NEWS wrote: "One of the most
remarkable parts was that of the mechanical doll ... played
and sung `a merveille' by Miss Caroline Hatchard, known already
to Edinburgh audiences as one of the charming Rhine Maidens
in Wagner's `RING.' She acted and looked the part of the automaton
to perfection, and sang her difficult florid music with a convincingly
When they came to Liverpool on 7 November,
THE DAILY POST reported, "Miss Hatchard was distinctly clever
as Olympia, the automaton. Notwithstanding the limitations
placed upon her in the matter of movement, Miss Hatchard sang
with the greatest sweetness and ease whilst her doll-like gestures
and make-up were wonderfully good."
After approving the change of name to A VIENNESE
MASQUERADE, THE POST went on, "Miss Caroline Hatchard sang
herself into immense popularity in the role of Rosalinde, von
Eisenstein's wife." THE ECHO added: "Of course Eisenstein makes
love to his wife, who is masked, and Mr. Wilson Pembroke and
Miss Caroline Hatchard, in their respective roles, sing a very
pretty duet. Miss Hatchard has great histrionic abilities,
as well as a beautiful voice and her Rosalinde is another triumph
foreshadowed by her Olympia in Offenbach."
The press was lined up and waiting when they
reached Newcastle. First Beecham was lauded for resuscitating
forgotten works and for introducing others not previously heard;
here both were new. In THE TALES OF HOFFMANN on 14 November,
Alfred Heather sang Hoffmann and Cecil Pearson performed as
both Crespel and Schlemil.
First, THE DAILY JOURNAL spoke out: "Miss Caroline
Hatchard easily won all hearts by her beautiful and flexible
singing as the doll, and she executed the decorative cadenzas
with conspicuous taste and fluency. A finer performance, to
be sure, could not reasonably be desired." For the other: "The
performance was sparkling, and once more revealed a company
strong at all points. There was nothing perfunctory in the
acting. Miss Caroline Hatchard "played the indignant Rosalinde
with archness and prim propriety, and sang with much beauty.
As her demure and ambitious maid, Adele, Miss Kate Anderson
was an emphatic success.."
Two days later THE DAILY CHRONICLE offered
"Miss Caroline Hatchard sang the music with
singular purity of voice, while her actions as the automaton
were highly approved." As to the Strauss, "It seems almost
incredible that even `THE WALTZ KING' could cram so much melody
into a single work. It is melody fitting to the character of
the story, and much of it is of a haunting kind. On occasion
it rises to something more durable and earnest as, to give
one instance, the song for the soprano beginning `Sweet Song
of Homeland,' which Miss Caroline Hatchard rendered with splendid
fire and emotional effect ...(she) again displayed the purity
of her voice and played the part of Eisenstein's wife consistently
and well.. Wilson Pembroke, as the debonair Eisenstein, evidently
relished the enjoyable work which fell to his share and accordingly
was quite satisfactory." So much for Newcastle.
During the week of 21 November in Leeds, "Miss
Caroline Hatchard was a creditable exponent of the Automatum
figure," and her mechanical aria was admirably sung, although
this writer was not in the mood for an encore. He did note
that both make-up and by-play were well devised. "The Rosalinde
of Miss Caroline Hatchard and the Adele of Miss Kate Anderson,
were both delightful impersonations, and they used their vocal
powers to admirable purpose."
Moving on, THE GUARDIAN found Caroline, "whom
Nottingham audiences have frequently heard with enjoyment,
charming as the doll Olympia".. and a tall and stately Gladys
Ancrum sang pleasantly as the vivified picture of Antonia's
Mother. Onwards to Birmingham, the company settled into the
Prince of Wales Theatre on 5 December, where "Miss Caroline
Hatchard as Rosalinde sang brilliantly, and was very resourceful
in her change of styles in the three acts."
On 12 December Quinlan's group arrived at the
Theatre Royal in Brighton to conclude the first phase. Caroline
was still in fine fettle according to THE HERALD. "Notwithstanding
the immobile expression that is forced upon her, Miss Hatchard
makes an extremely pretty doll, and through the hamperings
of her fixed stare and mechanical movements she contrives to
convey her sense of comedy with singular success. She has,
moreover, one of those pliant, flexible voices that are exactly
suited to the execution of the florid music that is allotted
to the automatum, and she masters to perfection the effective
little device of letting her voice `run down' as she periodically
collapses into the arms of the solicitous assistant. Miss Hatchard's
long sustained performance is an admirable exhibition, alike
of vocalisation and comedy, and presently when the time came
for her to receive the prolonged plaudits of the audience,
she showed how extremely graceful and winsome she can be when
she is able to cast off the expressionless rigidities of the
"And Madame Von Eisenstein, plump, pretty,
and singing admirably in the person of Miss Caroline Hatchard,
has lively passages with her faithless husband, and makes herself
quite the belle of the ball...What the dancers do in movement
(dancing the czardas), so does Madame Von Eisenstein in song,
and with rhythmic swaying of body, with action symbolic of
the stress of changing emotion expressed in the music, she
bursts into wild, untamed song, swiftly alternating crooning
melancholy with rapturous abandon, with barbaric, unformed
rhythms and pealing head-notes, reiterated and prolonged. Miss
Hatchard has sung this trying composition with tremendous energy
and abandon, and the audiences have insisted on an encore.
The singer has bravely responded; but few people would like
to go through such an ordeal twice in one night.
In another vein Miss Hatchard has done some
charming work, when coquetting with her husband, she has danced
around the stage, eluding his grasp, to a florid musical setting
of laughter. Her singing has been of the daintiest. For Miss
Hatchard indeed the performance is all round a triumph." With
this uplifting effort, she ended her participation as the company
stood down for Christmas.
After a two week respite, they resumed at the
Grand Theatre in Swansea on 2 January. Bardsley was back, hailed
by his boss Quinlan, "as one of his luckiest and most profitable
`finds.' In voluptuous love, in rousing tavern ballad, in comedy
and in tragedy, he was magnificent." Caroline's replacement
Bridget Shannon "was extremely clever as Olympia.. her singing
was delightful" - pleasant enough and effective but never up
to Miss Hatchard's supreme level.
On 3 January, THE CAMBRIA DAILY LEADER heaped
praise upon the organiser: "the son of the St. Helen's manufacturer
is a strange figure in an artistic London. All around him are
men engaged in the eternal race, contriving, fighting for wealth,
selling genius and cleverness for it, compounding with the
world for its price. That is, of course, quite right, but think
of this music-possessed man coming into the market with his
great ideas and his tremendous ideals, burning with the mission
of conquering philistine, material London! Think of Mr. Beecham,
sweeping aside the vexatious details that narrow the grandeur
of the producer's dream, refusing to be disheartened by the
little things, the trivial considerations -- and money matters
surely are just these to him --that limit the outlook of other
conductors. Think of this modern apostle of music setting out
upon the quixotic task of conquering fashionable London, and
bringing it to a realisation of the beautiful in art! Out to
lose money if only he can effect his purpose! Is it not heroic?" He
ended with a familiar Beecham fillip, "Get an elephant to stand
on one foot on the top of the Nelson Column and you will draw
a much larger crowd than twenty-five SALOMEs." It is unclear
if he was simply bemoaning the dearth of paying customers or
baiting prospective ones!
THE LEADER added, "Local interest mainly centred
around Mr. W, J. Samuell, who appeared as Dapertutto, a magician,
in the second story, and Crespel, Antonia's father, in the
last tale. It is offering no empty compliment to say that Mr.
Samuell more than justified the promise of three years ago,
when he left Swansea to take up his studies in earnest. He
sang the immensely difficult song, `As Jewels Divine,' with
dramatic effect, and his stage appearance was most favourable.
Mr. Samuell has before him a great future, and his progress
will be watched with increasing interest by his friends."
While they were performing in Fulham, Cecil
Chisholm gushed over Beecham in THE BOURNEMOUTH GRAPHIC, "One
thing is certain. Mr. Beecham's effort is unparalleled in our
operatic history. Thanks to one man alone London has during
the past year seen over 200 more performances of Opera than
it usually does. What is better still, most of these Operas
have been sung in English. And the artistic standards consistently
attained had been immeasurably higher than that of any other
English Opera Company." Also acknowledged was TB's mighty service
in training so many young artists.
With TALES OF HOFFMANN the sole offering, Seth
Hughes, a recent Pinkerton with the Moody-Manners Company,
joined Bardsley and Heather in singing the poet's role. Fred
LeMaistre also came on board to fill the role of Spalanzani.
On 6 February in the Leicester Opera House,
the Company fared badly competing with Nellie Melba who sang
all week at Temperance Hall. But next in Wolverhampton, the
audience had a feast as .. "the orchestra, under Mr. Howard
Carr, drew the plaudits of the house, and the `Barcarolle'
Thus it continued .. personnel changes were
to be expected as singers tired or left. THE SOUTH WALES ECHO
reported on new blood in HOFFMANN at Cardiff, "Last night Mr.
Alfred Heather and Miss Kathleen Maureen were the two principals
to appear in each Tale, and their work throughout was as delightful
as it was arduous. Mr. Heather's beautiful tenor voice we have
before had opportunities of admiring, and seems to have broadened.
The purity was as pronounced as ever, the breadth of tone was
greater, and the robustness seems to have increased; whilst
his acting was excellent. Miss Maureen created a highly favourable
impression. Next to these two artistes, "Mr. Charles Magrath
and Mr. W. J. Samuell had the heaviest work of the principals.
Mr. Magrath, in two sinister parts, one impregnated with a
strong comic element, the other much like that of Svengali
in `TRILBY,' was magnificent alike in singing and acting. ..Miss
Vera Courtenay was a Carmen-like representative in Tale II;
and Miss Bettina Freeman a brilliant exponent of `Antonia'
in Tale III; and all three ladies sang delightfully." Bettina,
an American, had become quickly a favourite in London. Caroline
had sung Antonia too, as she revealed to son Ewen but evidence
has yet to surface.
After a time in Hull and a return to Manchester,
they arrived at the Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield where, on 10
March Beecham is believed to have conducted HOFFMANN. Courtenay
and company held forth on 21 March at the New Theatre in Cardiff
where more praise was heaped upon local hero Samuell, "..the
intensely dramatic interpretation of the magician Dapertutto...
as a picture of medieval malignity, it has surely never been
surpassed." Sadly, this promising baritone had only a half
dozen years to live.
The following week in Plymouth, time was running
out as singers began to jump ship. Marie Manette now sang Nicklausse,
Gladys Ancrum was Giulietta and S. Suravitch, who had sung
Hermann earlier, was now Crespel. And so in Portsmouth early
in April, the laughter, the excitement, the thunderous applause,
it all came to an end.
During this tour Caroline firmly established
herself in the hearts and minds of provincial music-lovers.
They welcomed her back again and again. Then she confirmed
her good standing as a member of the Denhof-Beecham undertaking
of 1913. This was her life. She was never a part of the rat-race
atmosphere of London or anywhere else. This in no way denigrates
her worth as a singer, but more than anything else, explains
her unfortunate neglect today. Adding to her mystique are reports
of newly-discovered recording activity.
Thanks are extended to Derek Johnston in Colchester
who generously went ahead to contact libraries in all of the
cities visited, and to those who responded. If any reader can
widen our perception, please feel free to do so. I also am
grateful to Dennis Foreman in Nottingham and to Tony Benson
for producing the chart showing the 27 visits, and for triggering
my interest in the first place.
At this juncture, further kudos for Beecham
are hardly necessary but the few words by and about him simply
show his beneficence at work and how his efforts were welcomed.
. © Charles A. Hooey
THE BEECHAM OPERA COMIQUE TOUR, 1910/1911
*Sept. 5 Her Majesty's Opera House, Blackpool
*Sept. 12 Grand Opera House, Belfast
*Sept. 19 Theatre Royal, Dublin
* Sept. 26 & Oct. 3 Kennington Theatre, London
Oct. 10 Theatre Royal, Manchester
*Oct. 17 & 24 King's Theatre, Glasgow
*Oct. 31 Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
*Nov. 7 Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool
Nov. 14 Theatre Royal, Newcastle upon Tyne
*Nov. 21 Grand Theatre, Leeds
*Nov. 28 Theatre Royal, Nottingham
Dec. 5 Prince of Wales Theatre, Birmingham
*Dec. 12 Theatre Royal, Brighton
*Jan. 2 Grand Theatre, Swansea
Jan. 9 Grand Theatre, Fulham
*Jan. 16 Theatre Royal, Bournemouth
Jan. 23 Gaiety Theatre, Dublin
Jan. 30 Grand Theatre, Southampton
Feb. 6 Opera House, Leicester
*Feb. 13 Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton
Feb. 20 Grand Theatre, Hull
Feb. 27 Princes Theatre, Manchester
Mar. 6 Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield
Mar. 13 Princes Theatre, Bristol
*Mar. 20 New Theatre, Cardiff
*Mar. 27 Theatre Royal, Plymouth
Apr. 3 Theatre Royal, Portsmouth
* - centres who supplied information.
Visits were week-long, the dates shown being
the Mondays. From details in THE STAGE.
When Caroline Hatchard became a student at
the RAM in 1900 she lodged with a family in Streatham, South
London where she met Nora Langford (later to become Venning
through marriage) who introduced her to brother Robert,
whom Caroline eventually married. At the time she was only
seventeen and Robert was around 21. They married August 4th
1908. Robert Langford was a Civil Servant working for the Ministry
of Agriculture and Fisheries, later becoming private secretary
to the Minister, Mr Hudson, who was to become Lord Halifax.
RL was also secretary to the Board of Agriculture.
Upon their marriage they soon moved from Highgate
to a house in Golder's Green near the then new tube line. Their
first son was born in 1915 and second (Ewen) in 1923.
Two years later the family moved to Belsize park (where Ewen
still lives) as it was nearer the Royal Academy of Music and
to Whitehall. Robert Langford retired in 1940, his last post
being Chief Press Officer to the ministry. He was a keen golfer
and a book collector embracing prints and china. He died
in 1946 aged 66 and Caroline died in 1970 at the age of 87.
Len Mullenger from notes supplied
by Ewen Langford.