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Julia Gaylord

Julia Gaylord and Frederick Packard were Americans from Massachusetts. Gaylord, born at Lowell on 22 February 1853, was an amateur actress and soprano; Packard, born in North Bridgewater in 1842, became a tenor soloist via church choirs. Both came to Europe in 1873 to enhance their careers. Gaylord’s studies in Paris were probably followed by a period in Italy. Packard studied in Milan and made his operatic debut at the Teatro Municipale, Reggio, about 1874. Rosa engaged both of them at this time and they joined the company in the following year.

Gaylord made her Rosa debut in Bohemian Girl at the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin, on 30 March 1875 and Packard followed on the following day in Martha. They married in January 1883 and sang with the company well into the 1880s although there were seasons when they were absent. Gaylord appeared in four company premieres (Siege of Rochelle, Fidelio, Stradella, Fadette), four British premières (Porter of Havre, Golden Cross, Piccolino, I Promessi Sposi), six British English-language premières (Joconde, Merry Wives of Windsor, Carmen – as Michaela, Mignon, Taming of the Shrew, Lohengrin). She also took the title roles in the world premieres of Pauline (Cowen) at the Lyceum on 22 November 1876 and Nordisa (Goring Thomas) at the Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool, on 26 January 1887. Her final Rosa appearance after almost 1000 performances in twenty six operas was as Cherubino in Marriage of Figaro in a matinée at the Theatre Royal, Manchester, on 16 March 1889.
Frederick Packard Packard’s time at the Rosa reflected – without quite matching – that of his wife but he was a principal Rosa tenor until 1886 and shared the stage with her. They frequently appeared together as Eily and Hardress in Lily of Killarney. He took part in four company premieres (Fidelio, Robin Hood, Lurline, Taming of the Shrew), two British premieres (Porter of Havre, Piccolino),and the British English-language première of The Flying Dutchman. He appears to have been more singer than actor but he was versatile enough to sing both Lohengrin and Don Jose in a worthy Rosa career of some 600 performances in twenty one operas. His last Rosa performance was at the Dublin Gaiety, the theatre where he began, in Bohemian Girl on 15 May 1886 with his wife as Arline.
The Gaylords also sang with Royal English Opera Company in the early 1880s and sometimes appeared in musical plays. They retired to America about 1889 and settled in Brooklyn. Julia may have made some stage appearances at this time but she died at New Haven, Connecticut, on 18 April 1894 and was finally interred in the family grave in Greenmount Cemetery, Hamilton, Ohio. Her early death at only forty-two suggests that fragile heath may have prompted premature retirement. Packard died in New York in 1901.

© 2019 John Ward

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