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3 corrections, most recently by djbcjk - Show corrections

MR GEORGE COPPIN.   The name of George Coppin is as fami-   liar in connection with the drama in   Australia as a household word. Some   Launcestonians will remember Mr Coppin   over thirty years ago, when he appeared   at the old Olympic Theatre, which with     the London Hotel occupied the vacant   site at the corner of St. John and Came-   ron streets. Mr Coppin will shortly   retire from the theatrical profession, and   on Saturday night at Melbourne com-   mences a farewell engagement of twelve   nights. In answer to various inquiries   the veteran has published the following   interesting particulars of his career. He   (Mr Coppin) was born on the 8th April,   1819, and has been following his pro-   fession for more than half a century. He   arrived in Sydney by the ship Templar on   the 10th March 1843, and was he says the first actor of any standing as a star in the old country to appear upon starring terms in the Australian colonies. Shortly after arrival he arranged to appear at the   Victoria Theatre upon a share of the pro-   fits, and frequently received upwards of   £50 a night. He made a little fortune by acting—lost it in business through inex-   perience, left Sydney in debt, and made v his first appearance in Hobart Town on the 5th of January, 1815. After playing   a very successful star engagement, he   commenced management in Launceston,   on the 3rd of March, 1845. Encouraged by a prosperous season, he engaged his   company to visit Australia Felix, and   made his first appearance as manager and   actor in Melbourne, at the Queen's Theatre, 21st June, 1845. His first bill   was :—Lady of Lyons ; wreath dance, by Mrs C. Young (now Mrs Herman Vezin) ;   song, "Should He Upbraid," Mrs G. H.   Rogers ; comic song, Mr Hambleton. Mr and Mrs C. Young will then dance   the "Tarantella" in the costume of the   country, to be followed by the petite   comedy of The Four Sisters ; double Irish   Jig, Mr and Mrs C. Young. To conclude   with the musical farce of The Turnpike Gate. Mr Coppin appeared as Glavis, Cap-   tain Beauchamp, and Crack. The entire   working expenses of the theatre, including   rent, were about £47 a week. His next   move was to South Australia, where he built a theatre in five weeks, and com-   menced management in Adelaide, on the 2nd of November, 1846. He also   built a theatre at Port Adelaide. The veteran goes on to say he made a   large fortune, but lost it in copper mining   by the discovery of gold in Victoria ; went through the Insolvent Court ; re- turned to Melbourne ; walked up to the   diggins without sixpence in his pocket ; walked back again within a fortnight with blistered hands, a backache, and no gold ; played a short star engagement, and com- menced management in Geelong in 1852.   He made another fortune, Monday night's   receipts frequently paying the weekly ex-   penses, and retired from management.   Visited Adelaide, when he invited his   creditors to dinner and paid them 20s in a the £, and sailed for England in January,   1854. Appeared at the the Royal Hay- market Theatre, London, on 26th June,   1854, as M. Putzi and Crack. The Lon-   don press unanimous in praise. Arranged star engagements at the Theatres Royal, Birminham, Manchester, Edingburgh, Dublin etc. Engaged Mr G. V. Brooke and other artists to visit the colonies.   Built an iron Theatre in Manchester for     erection in Melbourne. Returned to Australia and commenced playing a round   of characters at the Queen's Theatre on the 18thDecember, 1854, Mr G. V. Brooke     first appeared at the Queen's Theatre on   the 26th of February, 1855, and the foun- dation stone of the Olympic Theatre (the     Iron Pot) was laid by Mr G. V. Brooke   on the 18th of April, 1855. It was opened early in June by the Wizard Jacobs, who was engaged in England by Mr Coppin. The dramatic season com-   menced on 30th of July, 1855, with the "Lady of Lyons" and "To Oblige Ben-     son." Mr Coppin then entered into partnership with Mr G. V. Booke. Purchased lease of the old Theatre Royal   and the freehold of Cremorne Gardens, upon which they expended upwards of   £100,000. Commenced management at the old Theatre Royal on the 9th June, 1856, with the comedy of "She Stoops to Conquer," and a concert, when the re-   ceipts were £470 15s 6d. The first grand opera season ever given in the Austra- lian colonies was commenced on the 11th   of June, and was followed by English Opera.   The following is a list of the singers en-     gaged : Madame Anna Bishop, Mes-   dames Carandini Mrs Fiddes, Mr   Guerin, Mrs Hancock, Mr Laglaise, Mr   E. Coulon, Mr Lyall, Mr Howson, Mr   Gregg ; Conductor, M. Lavenue. For   English Opera, Julia Harland, Sarah   Flower, Walter Sherwin, Farquharson. With a selection from the Italian Opera Company ; Conductor, Lindley Norman. Full chorus, band, and ballet ; leader of the orchestra, M. Strebenger. The fol- lowing Operas were produced : "Norma"   "Der Freischutz" "Bohemian Girl"   "La Sonnambula," "Lucretia Borgia"     "Masaniello," "Martha," "Lucia Di   iag Lammermoor," "Maritana" "Mountain   Sylph. The result was a loss of £3000 to the treasury. Mr G. V. Brooke first   appeared at the old Theatre Royal   for one night when passing through Mel-   bourne to Sydney, the 2nd of July, 1856, when the programme was "The Serious   Family" and to "Oblige Benson," and the receipts, £581 16s. The regular dramatic

season commenced on the 25th of'August, 1856 with Mr G. V. Brooke as Mathew Elmore, in "Love's Sacrefice" ; receipts :     £356, 15s, expenses £400 a week. Opened Cremorne-Gardens, November 3, 1856, and built the Pantheon Theatre, and dissolved partnership with Mr G. V. Brooke, 26th February, 1859 ; serious losses. Built Haymarket Theatre (under difficulties and assistance), which was   opened on the 15th of September, 1862, and to keep on using his own words, ruined again, left penniless ; held meeting of creditors and obtained a release. He then engaged Mr and Mrs Charles Kean, and played with them in Victoria and Sydney ; a great success. Mr Coppin invited his unsecured creditors to dinner and paid them 20s. in the £. He sailed from the colonies for California on the 9th of July, 1864, and after fulfilling engagements throughout America with Mr and Mrs C. Kean and Company, returned to Melbourne on the 18th of January, 1866, with very satisfactory pecuniary results. He appeared at the Haymarket on the 27th of January, 1860, in a round of his popular characters, in- cluding, for the first time "Milky White."   He made a considerable sum of money by   the engagement of the Glassblowers, Skaters, Madame Celeste, Robert Heller's entertainment, Collins the Irish Come- dian, etc. Joined Messrs Harwood, Stewart, and Hennings in the manage- ment of the Theatre Royal. Purchased his partner's interests and after conduct- ing it for 12 months upon his own respon- sibility, a fire broke out upon the stage ; the interior building was burnt to ashes   on the 19th March, 1872, without any portion being insured for one half-penny. This was another very serious loss. Mr Coppin rented St. George's Hall for the sake of giving employment to his drama- tic company, and he then leased the ground for 99 years upon which the ruins of the old Royal stood. He had plans prepared and accepted tenders for build- ing the present Theatre Royal, which he afterwards formed into the "Theatre, Royal Proprietary Association (Limited)," now paying 20 per cent. It was let to Messrs Harwood, Stewart, Hennings, and   Coppin, who opened it on the 5th of November, 1872. At the termination of their five years' lease it was let to Messrs Coppin, Hennings, and Greville for four years and a half, which terminates next June, when Mr J. C. Williamson becomes the lessee for a number of years.

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