t h e   r o s a   t r o u p e

Amy Sherwin

Amy Sherwin

Amy Sherwin, the ‘Tasmanian Nightingale’ was a farmer’s daughter born in the Huon Valley, Tasmania, on 23 March 1855. She received her first music lessons from her mother, sang locally, and later studied with F.A. Packer, a Hobart organist. Her operatic debut was with a touring Italian company probably as Norina in Don Pasquale at the Theatre Royal, Hobart, on 1 May 1878. She married music agent Hugo Gorlitz in December of the same year and sang and studied in America and Europe before arriving in Britain in 1883.

Her Rosa and probably British debut was in the title role of Maritana at Drury Lane on 7 April 1883. This, her only appearance of the Rosa London season, was followed by a rapidly expanding career on the concert platform. She was a busy lady in both London and the provinces for the next three years. A tour of Australia from late 1887 offering both concert and opera was followed by an Eastern concert tour until the summer of 1889 when she returned to England and to concerts and a brief engagement with the D’Oyly Carte in 1890.

 The Rosa offered her an extended engagement a year later with the separate Carmen company organized as a farewell vehicle for the celebrated soprano Marie Roze. Amy toured with them from February to late May 1891 with two guest performances with the regular company in 1892 and 1896. There were in all about fifty appearances in five operas; she sang the leading roles in Maritana, Bohemian Girl, Faust, and Mignon (Filina), and Carmen (Michaela).

The last decade of her career consisted of concert work and occasional forays into opera with tours to South Africa and Australia in 1896-97 and further visits to Australia in 1902 and 1906. Then she retired to Bromley in Kent and taught in London for a time but sadly her final years were marred by sickness and poverty. She died in poor circumstances at Bromley on 20 September 1935 and is buried in Bromley Hill Cemetery.

Amy was one of the first Australian artists to gain international recognition. She is usually regarded as a concert artist but there is a constant operatic thread throughout her career which suggests unrealised operatic ambitions. Perhaps she felt more at ease on the concert platform.

© 2019 John Ward

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