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MUSIC AND DRAMA.  

 

The passing of Mr. Henry Bracy at the age of 75 will turn the thoughts of old theatre- goers back to the days, or nights, in Sydney of French comic opera under William Saurin Lyster, before the dawn of the Gilbert and Sullivan period. After many successful sea- sons of Italian opera and English opera of the Wallace-Balfe class, Lyster decided to give the Australian public what he spoke of as "light French dishes." That was in 1875. The two English principals who were engaged were Clara Thompson, sister of the famous Lydia Thompson, and her husband, Mr. Henry Bracy, then a popular comic opera tenor. Lecocq's "La Filie de Madame Angot" was one of the first productions. The same com- poser's "Girofle Girofla" served to introduce Emelie Melville, a dainty American artist, who is still appearing in the United States, but not in singing parts. A little later Offenbach was represented by "The Grand Duchess," "Ma- dame Favart," "La Belle Helene," and "Barbe Bleue." The opera bouffe repertory included "La Perichole," "The Princess of Trebt- zonde," "Chilperlc," and "The Brigands." Then came the first Australian production of "Les Cloches de Corneville." Shortly before the death of Lyster, in 1880, Mr. and Mrs. Bracy returned to England. While a mem- ber of the Gilbert and Sullivan Company at the Savoy, London, Mr. Bracy was selected as the first Prince Hilarion in "Princess Ida."

Resuming their stage work in Australia Mr. and Mrs. Bracy were again in Sydney in 1889. They were prominent during a season under the conductorship of the late M. Henri Kowalski at the Opera House, which stood on the corner of King and York streets. In addition to the pianist-composer's own comic opera "Moustique," the company introduced "The Beggar Student." In 1890 the Bracy- Thompson company performed "The Sultan of Mocha," "The Beggar Student," and "The Lady of the Locket" at the Criterion Theatre. The following year Mr. Bracy appeared under the Williamson management, at the Theatre Royal, in "The Gondoliers." Miss Florence Young, Miss Elsie Cameron, Mr. Charles Ryley and Mr. William Elton were in the cast. During the Benson Planquette's "The Old Guard" was performed. In 1892, at Her Majesty's Theatre, Mr. Bracy produced for the Williamson man- agement Audran's "La Cigale," with the late M. Leon Caron as conductor. The late Mr. J. C. Williamson, Miss Marie Halton, Miss Flora Graupner, Miss Florence Young, Miss Elsie Cameron, Mr. Charles Ryley, and Mr. Howard Vernon were associated in "La   Cigale." Among other successful comic operas in which Mr. Bracy figured as a grace- ful actor and a singer with refinement of style, were "Dorothy," "The Yeoman of the Guard," and "Pepita."

For a good number of years before his re- tirement in 1914, Mr. Bracy was retained by the Williamson management chiefly as a pro- ducer of comic opera. He assisted during the season of Italian opera at Her Majesty's in 1901, and directed the first Australian performance of Puccinl's "Madame Butterfly" (in English) at the Theatre Royal in 1910, with Signor Hazon as conductor. Miss Amy Castles and Mdlle Bel Sorel were seen on al- ternate nights in the name part. Mdlle Bel Sorel left Australia at the conclusion of her engagement. The Australian operatic artist is now in the United States. Mrs. Bracy, unfortunately, was not in Sydney when her   husband died. She has been living in New York with her married son, Mr. Sydney Bracy, who, following in his father's footsteps, had a successful comic opera career in America, before yielding to the temptation of photo play acting. Mr. Phil Bracy, the other son, is a returned invalided soldier. Mr. Phil Bracy came from Melbourne to attend his father's funeral. Of the "old guard" of comic opera in Australia only Mrs. Bracy and Emelie Melville, now remain. Mr. Armes Beaumont died in Melbourne in 1913. Mr. Ed- ward Farley answered "the last call" in Syd- ney a year ago.  

Miss Betty Ward, a Sydney girl, and daugh- ter of the veteran Australian journalist, Dr. P. W. Ward, is now under a year's engage- ment to manager Charlot in England. Miss Ward must have filled a scrap-book if she collected all the "gooff notices" of her act- ing in "Poached Eggs and Pearls," a canteen comedy from the pen of Miss Gertrude Jen- nings, which was produced by Mr. Charlot as one of the Christmas attractions at the Apollo Theatre, London. In what was in- tended to illustrate the humorous side of war- time in England, the young Australian actress appeared as an elderly spinster, with a ge- nlus for blundering, who helps other aristo- cratic women to provide meals and refresh- ments for soldiers.

Miss Daisy Atherton, who will make her first Australian appearance to-night under

the J. C. Williamson management at the Cri- terion Theatre in "Fair and Warmer," is a daughter of the celebrated comedian, Willie Edouin, and a niece of one of our old fa- vourites, Mrs. G. B. W. Lewis. Though Wil- lie Edouin never visited this part of the world, his talent has been reflected, so to speak, in many of the characters we have seen here in musical comedy. Mr. Edouin was the creator of all sorts of low comedy parts, including Tweedlepunch in "Florodora." Be- fore accepting her present engagement, Miss Atherton was the heroine in England of "A Pair of Silk Stockings," and she will appear later on in the same comedy here. Mr. Percy Marmont. the juvenile of the new

company, is an experienced actor. While as-

sociated with the Liverpool Repertory The- atre he secured the English provincial rights of "The Blindness of Virtue," and went on tour with the play at the head of his own company. Mr. Marmont was appearing at the Coliseum, London, in a revue when he was engaged by Mr. Clyde Meynell, of the Williamson management, for a South African and Australian tour. Mr. Thomas A. Brai- don, another newcomer, has supported in London Sir George Alexander, Sir Charles Wyndham, and Mr. Cyril Maude. He has also played in New York as a member of Miss Maxine Elliott's company. Miss Elma Royton will play in "Fair and Warmer" the part in which she had a large measure of suc- cess during the South African tour.

Miss Emily Fitzroy, who returned last week from America for the J. and N. Tait musical comedy production, "Very Good Eddie,' will be remembered in connection with the Meynell and Gunn Sydney productions. Miss Fitzroy left Australia in 1910 for England, her last appearance here being in the role of Mrs. Wilmore in' the "Hypocrites." After appear- ing in "A Woman's Way" at the Globe Thea- tre and "Dombey and Son" at the Savoy, Miss Fitzroy left London for New York, where she was fortunate enough to secure the lead- ing character part in "Just to Get Married," a farce produced by William Brady at the Maxine Elliott Theatre. This was followed by an appearance at the Empire Theatre, N.Y., with Mrs. Fisk In "Lady Patricia." Afterward Miss Fitzroy played for thirty- eight weeks with William Collier, the well- known comedian, in "Never Say Die," at the 48th Street Theatre, subsequently appearing with the Shubert firm in musical comedy at the Casino Theatre. She then returned to London, and played in the production of "The Land of Promise" at the Duke of York's Thea-  

tre, after which she went back to New York to appear at the 48th Street Theatre again in "Rich Man, Poor Man." She was then en- gaged by Mr. E. J. Tait to come to Australia.

The contractors for the renovation of the interior of the Palace Theatre have their work so much advanced that they hope to be able to allow the management to take possession on Tuesday. "Very Good Eddie" will be staged on Saturday next.

Mr George F. Boyle, of Sydney, who has been for some time in the United States, was announced to give his first pianoforte recital in New York at the Aeolian Hall on Janu- ary 2. The young artist included In his programme four of his own compositions. Of the celebrities who have toured Australia five had "concert fixtures" in New York for January - Paderewskl, Misha Elman, Harold Bauer, John M'Cormack, and David Bispham. The Cherniavsky Trio, Jan, Leo, and Mischel, (violinist, 'cellist, and pianist), were billed to appear at Carnegie Hall on January 16.

Digitisation generously supported by
Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation
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