t h e   r o s a   t r o u p e

Clara Doria

Clara Doria

Clara Doria, born Clara Kathleen Barnett at Cheltenham on 14 January 1844, was the daughter of John Barnett, the composer of the renowned opera The Mountain Sylph. She came from a musical family, and not surprisingly her early musical education was from her father, followed in 1857 by an intense three year period at the Leipzig Conservatoire, where she studied general musical theory and voice. She also made the acquaintance of fellow students Carl Rosa and Arthur Sullivan. After graduation and further study, she moved to Italy in 1861, acquired her stage name, and began a career as an operatic soprano. The illustration probably dates from her time there. She finally returned to England in 1867 and after a few provincial opera appearances focused upon the concert platform. However, opera beckoned again in 1871 when Carl Rosa and Parepa, after assuring the Barnetts that their daughter would be safe with them, were able to recruit her for their second American season.

Clara made her debut as Arline in Bohemian Girl at the New York Academy of Music on 4 October 1871, and followed with Lelia in Satanella, Elvira in Don Giovanni, Countess in Marriage of Figaro, Marcellina in Water Carrier, and Camilla in Zampa. She also added Jemmy in an Italian language William Tell and Magdalena opposite Theodore Wachtel in an extract in German from Postillon de Lonjumeau. Both were included in the ‘Combined’ season of April 1872. This, her only Rosa season, with fifty-two appearances in all, serves as a brief but important association which links the company with the Barnett family and a pioneer composer of English Opera. 

Clara continued her career in America for the next seven years, making Boston her home and singing mainly in concerts. She married a Boston lawyer, Henry Munroe Rogers, in 1878, retired from singing, immersed herself in Boston society, and still found time to teach, write and compose music, with a published string quartet to her name. She died in Boston on 8 March 1931.

© 2023 John Ward

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