t h e   r o s a   t r o u p e

Ida Cowey

Ida CoweyIda Cowey was born at Sunderland on 7 August 1902. Her vocal gifts were quickly recognised and the Shields Daily News of 22 September 1914 described her as a ‘Wonderful juvenile soprano.’ She had vocal ambitions, became a pupil of George Dodds of Newcastle, with perhaps some additional training in London, and by the 1920s was well known throughout the north of England in concert, oratorio, and appearances with the Newcastle Amateur Operatic Society. She was also a pioneer broadcaster offering opera from local radio stations in the early days of the BBC. A successful audition with the Carl Rosa followed in the summer of 1925 and she was engaged as a member of the chorus who would understudy and progress to more important roles.
Ida Cowey as Lady Rose The tour began in late August 1925 in London and ended at Nottingham in May of the following year. Cast details are lacking but after a period in the chorus Ida seems to have appeared in at least twelve performances as Musetta in La Bohème and Nedda in Pagliacci. The Edinburgh Scotsman of 20 February 1926 noted that ‘A newcomer, Miss Ida Cowey, made a delightful Musetta. Her light soprano voice is of charming quality, and there was an amount of character in her rendering, and an artistic intelligence, which gives great promise for her future.’ Four days later the reviewer was equally pleased with her Pagliacci performance commenting that she had the ‘makings of a fine operatic artist.’ The coloured photographs, depicting her as Lady Rose in The Emerald Isle and Phyllis in Iolanthe, suggest that she would have been an attractive Musetta and Nedda. However the operatic career never materialised as marriage and family obligations came first.
Ida Cowey as Phyllis A decade later she joined The Gaiety Revels, a seaside concert party on the south coast, who were absorbed into ENSA (Entertainment Network Services Association) at the beginning of the war. Ida ended her career singing to the troops and was even presented to the Queen. She subsequently taught music and singing, lived on Orkney for a time, and died at Windygates, Fife, in 1956.
The Rosa Trust would like to thank the children of Ida Cowey for the use of the photographs and their help in the preparation of this note. Famous artists sang with the company but there are others who are simply names on old programmes. Ida Cowey was one of these but now with a contribution from her family she is more than a name. All Rosa personnel were part of the company history and input from their friends and family is always welcome – please contact John Ward.

© 2020 John Ward

If you use the information on this page, please acknowledge the Carl Rosa Trust: www.carlrosatrust.org.uk