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Josephine Warren Rosa

Josephine Warren Rosa

Josephine Warren was the stage name of Elizabeth Mary Lowrey, who eventually became the second Mrs Carl Rosa. She was born at Oldham in Lancashire on 13 June 1859. Her father, Edward Lowrey, described as ‘Comedian’ in the 1871 census, was a member of a family associated with the Dublin theatre; her mother, Hannah Warren, was described as ‘Actress’ in the census a decade earlier. Josephine and her sister Annie remained within the theatre as dancers and from about 1875 became members and then principal dancers of the Rosa corps de ballet using their mother’s family name.

There were ballet contributions to many operas and the sisters would probably have appeared in all of them. They gave an Irish jig in Lily of Killarney and Josephine danced the important role of the mute Fenella in Auber’s Masaniello. Their dancing days ended by 1880. Annie presumably married, and Josephine, despite becoming Mrs Rosa, transferred to minor operatic roles such as Inez in Trovatore and the Marchioness in Maritana. She played twelve roles in almost 200 performances from 1879 to 1882 before increasing family commitments took precedence over company activities.

The Rosa family vault

Carl’s death in 1889 left Josephine as the widowed mother of two boys and two girls. They all lived to adulthood. Three died childless although one of the sons had had a daughter, who sadly also died childless. There are no direct descendants of Carl Rosa. Josephine herself died on 10 July 1927 and is interred as Josephine Rosa beside Carl and two of their children in the family vault (illustrated) in Highgate Cemetery.

© 2020 John Ward

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