t h e   r o s a   t r o u p e

William Castle

William CastleWilliam Castle was one of the singers who sang for Carl Rosa on both sides of the Atlantic. He was born in England in 1836, taken to America as a child, and raised in Philadelphia. His career progressed from minstrel shows to the Caroline Richings English Opera Company with perhaps some vocal tuition in Europe en route. He, together with colleagues Zelda and Edward Seguin and the baritone Sherwood Campbell, transferred to the new Parepa-Rosa company in 1869. His decision may well have been influenced by the Seguins who were related to Parepa. He made his debut with the Parepa Rosa company as Wilmot in the American premiere of Balfe’s Puritan’s Daughter at the French Theatre in New York on 1 September 1869. Four years later he was the Don Caesar in Wallace’s Maritana for the Carl Rosa Company at the Theatre Royal Manchester on 1 September 1873. The illustration shows him in this role. Thus he appeared in the company’s inaugural performances in both America and Britain, a distinction he shared with Campbell and Carl Rosa himself. During his three seasons with the company, two in America and one in Britain, he appeared in over 300 performances in sixteen operas. He sang the leading tenor roles in Puritan’s Daughter, Sonnambula, Maritana, Fra Diavolo, Martha, Black Domino, Trovatore, Bohemian Girl, Faust, Freischütz, Oberon, Rose of Castile, Satanella, Ballo in Maschera, Water Carrier, and Lucrezia Borgia.

His last performance was as Manrico in Trovatore at the Royal Amphitheatre, Liverpool, on 5 February 1874 when the company was facing an uncertain future in the wake of Parepa’s death. Shortly afterwards he returned to America where he appeared with many companies including the Clara Kellogg, C.D. Hess and Emma Abbott organizations. He retired from the stage in the 1890s and took up teaching in Chicago. He died there on 31 March 1909.

© John Ward 2016

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