t h e   r o s a   t r o u p e

Annette (Annie) Albu

Annette Albu

Annie (Annette) Albu, born at Sheffield in 1858, was one of a musical family headed by Berthold Albu, a Prussian-born rabbi who also taught languages and music. Annie’s musical education began with her father and by the 1870s she was already appearing at concerts in Edinburgh where Berthold served a local synagogue. Later training at the Royal Academy of Music, study and debut in Italy followed but she was back home by 1879 and recruited as a soprano by Carl Rosa.
Annie made her Rosa debut at as Amina in Sonnambula at the Theatre Royal Birmingham on 24 October 1879 and added Arline (Bohemian Girl), Marguerite (Faust), Paquita (Carmen), and Messenger of Peace (Rienzi) during the season. She continued with other opera companies, including comic opera, before returning to the Rosa in August 1883 to add Lydia (Colomba), Michaela (Carmen), Filina (Mignon) and Countess (Marriage of Figaro) to her Rosa repertoire. She left on 29 December 1883 at Barnsley and despite overtures from Carl Rosa returned for only three guest performances in 1888 and 1889. Her Rosa account totalled nine roles in 70 appearances.
The following year 1884 she sang a few performances for Gye at Covent Garden and then focused upon concert and oratorio. Marriage to Victor Wartenberg, a Blackpool doctor, in 1886 brought children, and family priorities, which steered her towards provincial appearances, but a family move to London about 1889 brought the title role in Alfred Cellier’s comic opera Doris at the Lyric Theatre. The next few years brought a mixture of music hall and variety theatres, brief returns to comic opera, followed by opera with Hammerstein in New York, and Harris at Drury Lane in 1893. Her husband died in late 1894 leaving her with three children but she was able to travel with a company to New York in 1895 and take a concert party to South Africa two years later. Whilst there she married one James Patteson and a fourth child was born in 1898.
Annie continued to make occasional appearances, sometimes with her own concert party, but her vocal career declined with the new century and in 1909 she was reported to have purchased an Islington cinema. She was an accomplished songstress who frequently quoted her Rosa association in publicity. It was clearly important to her in a varied career probably influenced by domestic pressures. She eventually retired to Southsea and died there in 1927.

© 2022 John Ward

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