t h e   r o s a   t r o u p e

Enrico Campobello

Sgr Campobello Enrico Campobello was the stage name of a British baritone who is sometimes identified as one Henry McClean Martin and alternatively named as a Campbell born at Campbeltown in Argyllshire in 1839. He seems to have been Scots born although the year is doubtful. The uncertainty makes it difficult to chart his career. His claim of Italian training in the 1860s rings true although it was probably preceded by some appearances as Campbell before popular London audiences. He became Signor Campi for his operatic debut in Italy and continued to use it when singing for Mapleson in London later in the decade. Campobello was born on his return to Italy in 1870, probably to avoid confusion with the baritone Giuseppe Ciampi, and it remained with him throughout his career. He returned to London a year later and remained with Mapleson until 1874 and was recruited for the first Rosa London season.
The company’s introduction to London audiences was Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro conducted by Rosa at the Princess’s Theatre on 11 September 1875. A strong cast with Santley as Figaro, Ostava Torriani as the Countess, Rose Hersee as Rosina, and Campobello as Almaviva gave a memorable performance to establish the company’s metropolitan reputation. Campobello proved his worth amidst a stellar cast with The Era review giving ‘hearty praise’ to his Almaviva and years later the eminent critic Herman Klein remembered the performance as ‘the best ever given in the English language.’ Campobello remained with the company in London and the provinces until December 1875 adding Valentine, Arnheim and Don José (Maritana) to his Rosa repertoire. Attempts to follow in Rosa’s footsteps with his own opera company failed and he was bankrupt by the summer of the following year. He rejoined the Rosa in late 1877 for a few provincial appearances and departed at Manchester in November after an overall total of forty performances with the company. He never sang with the Rosa again.
Campobello briefly visited America in 1878 but his career was mainly in Britain and the continent before returning to America in 1883 and remaining there. He sang with the Emma Abbott opera company for two seasons before continuing for many years as vocalist, speculative impresario, and self publicist, as circumstances dictated. His career did not lack variety but he would probably have fared better if he had focused upon singing. He presumably died in America about 1920 but details are lacking. He was elusive to the end! .

© 2022 John Ward

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