t h e   r o s a   t r o u p e

Kate Bensberg

Kate Bensberg

Kate Bensberg, born in Saint Louis Missouri in 1861, was the daughter of a German father and a Dutch mother. Her musical background is unknown but her vocal inclination was recognised and by the early 1880s she was studying in Germany and was able to make her debut at the Kroll Theatre in Berlin about 1883. The following year she came to Britain and was recruited by Carl Rosa.

Kate made her Rosa debut as Arline in Bohemian Girl on 15 January 1884 at Liverpool’s Royal Court Theatre and followed with Carmen (Paquita), Esmeralda (Fleur de Lys), Faust (Siebel), Beggar Student (Stephania), Mignon (Frederic), Lily of Killarney (Ann Chute), and Manon (Pousette). She said farewell with a final Manon at Drury Lane on 28 May 1885 after offering eight roles in 140 appearances. Back in America she sang with the new national American Opera Company in 1886 and then toured for three seasons with her own operatic troupe. There may also have been some appearances in Latin America before seeking further study in Europe.

She returned to Paris in about 1889 to study with the famous Mathilde Marchesi and was subsequently engaged by the Milanese publisher and impresario Edoardo Sonzongo to sing for him in the 1890s. Details are lacking but she would have appeared in various operas and various theatres and in late 1895 she appeared with a young Caruso in Traviata at the Teatro Mercandante in Naples. Marriage and a child temporarily halted her career but she was back in Britain by 1898 to sing for Henry Wood in the early Promenade Concerts at the Queen’s Hall and also to make a few operatic appearances with the Moody-Manners company. Her career ended shortly afterwards with the death of her husband.

There was only a brief association with the Rosa but Kate was a Marchesi pupil who sang with Caruso and that is not without significance. She returned to Italy to settle in Florence as a teacher of singing and died there on 29 January 1939.

© 2020 John Ward

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