t h e   r o s a   t r o u p e

Tom Karl

Tom Karl

Tom Karl, actually Thomas Carroll, was an Irish tenor born on 19 January 1846 in Dublin. Family details are lacking but there must have been some recognition of his vocal potential as he initially studied under the British bass Henry Phillips in the mid 1860s before going to Milan for further training with Sangiovanni and Trevulsi. Early career details are sparse but he seems to have made his operatic debut in Milan about 1869 followed by further Italian appearances which led to an engagement with Parepa-Rosa in America where he was publicised as a tenore di grazia (a light-voiced tenor).

 Parepa’s second American season opened with Daughter of the Regiment on 2 October 1871 at the New York Academy of Music. Parepa herself was Marie and Karl made his debut as Tonio. A tour of the Eastern cities followed with Karl successfully adding Lucrezia Borgia, Don Giovanni, Bohemian Girl, Gazza Ladra, Water Carrier and Zampa to his repertoire. He sang seventy two performances in all. Parepa was clearly pleased with her new recruit describing him as ‘the Irish tenor Italianized, a young man of great talent’ and ‘a very handsome man and has made a great hit’. The season closed at New York on 30 April 1872 and the Rosas sailed for Europe a day later. Karl followed but despite Parepa’s praise he never sang with the Rosa again. This was probably because he made America his operatic home from the mid 1870s; he appeared in Italian and English opera and was associated with the Boston Ideals Company and their successor the Bostonians for many years. Karl died at his home in Rochester, New York, on 19 March 1916.

© 2019 John Ward

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