t h e   r o s a   t r o u p e

Pauline Joran

Pauline JoranPauline Joran, born at Freeport Illinois on 3 August 1870, was one of a trio of celebrated child performers with Pauline as violinist and her sisters ‘Lula’ and ‘Elise’ as pianists. They toured in America and abroad in the 1880s as part of a concert troupe and in 1890 came to Europe for further studies. Preliminary vocal training with the earlier concert troupe and tuition in Europe had revealed that Pauline had a promising soprano voice and when the sisters came to London in 1892 she was advised that a vocal career was possible. An introduction to the conductor Wilhelm Ganz led to a Rosa trial appearance in an extract from Bohemian Girl at the Theatre Royal Manchester on 12 April 1892. She was successful and a engagement followed.

Pauline Joran

The contract dated 7 June was for the 1892-93 season at seven pounds weekly for seven performances with options for the next two seasons at increased salary. The agreement stipulated seven performances including a matinee but she actually only sang four times a week. There was no additional payment for rehearsals but the company would provide costumes and also travelling expenses for both Pauline and her mother for engagements beyond London. The contract was signed by Wilhelm Ganz on behalf of the artist and Charles Hoile, the company secretary, for the Rosa. There was also a manuscript addition, perhaps suggested by Ganz, questioning if Pauline should continue to sing contralto and soprano roles.

Pauline Joran

Pauline began as a regular member of the company at Cork Opera House on 8 August in another Bohemian Girl, an opera in which she could sing both Arline and the Gipsy Queen. Two days later she appeared as Beppe in the British English-language première of Mascagni’s L’Amico Fritz. The role requires singing and playing the violin, and Pauline delighted everyone by doing both splendidly to turn a minor role into perhaps her most memorable one. The illustration shows her in costume complete with violin. Another première followed in Dublin on 10 September when she sang the title role in Bizet’s Djamileh opposite Barton McGuckin. Additional roles were Mercedes in Carmen, Siebel in Faust, Lazarillo in Maritana, Ann Chute in Lily of Killarney, and Venus in Tannhäuser. When the season ended on 3 June 1893 she had made about 150 appearances with nine roles in eight operas.

Pauline Joran

She had little time to rest as Augustus Harris wanted her for the role of Beppe in Covent Garden performances of L’Amico Fritz to be directed by Mascagni himself and on 15 July she repeated it before Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle. She remained with Harris and took part in another Royal Command Performance on 19 May 1894. The 1893 programme and her entry pass to the castle are illustrated.


Pauline Joran

Opera did not lead to the abandonment of the violin and occasional concert appearances were coupled with provincial and continental operatic appearances. One of the latter, an Italian engagement of 1896, reunited her with Mascagni who showed his appreciation of her contribution to L’Amico Fritz with a signed photograph. When Harris died she returned to the Rosa with three Carmen performances – the title role and not Mercedes – at the Garrick Theatre in the January 1897 London season. A year later she was with the D’Oyly Carte to create the role of Saida in Sullivan’s last opera The Beauty Stone. It ran for only two months. She returned to the Rosa in January 1899 for a last London season. The contract dated 2 January was for thirty pounds for three performances a week at the Lyceum. She made about twenty appearances adding Nedda, Marguerite, and Santuzza to her Rosa repertoire. Her Rosa farewell was in Bohemian Girl at the Shakespeare Theatre Liverpool on 18 March 1899.

Her professional career ended when she married Baron William Ernest de Bush on 6 December 1899. Her husband sadly died in a rail accident in 1903. She made a brief return to opera as Clara Pauline with the Beecham company in 1910 but her social position may have made it difficult to return to the stage and her career was regrettably short. She continued as Baroness de Bush, retained her musical interests, and as late as 1951 she was able to provide opera historian Harold Rosenthal with recollections of her Rosa years. Pauline died in London on 13 August 1954 and was interred in the Bush tomb at Kensal Green with the inscription.

Make Sweet Melody, Sing Many Songs, That Thou May’st Be Remembered

It was an appropriate epitaph for one who was both violinist and singer.

The Rosa Trust wishes to thank Sonia York-Pryce for information about her great grandmother and for permission to use family photographs in the preparation of this note.

© 2023 John Ward

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