t h e   r o s a   t r o u p e

Pauline Vaneri

Pauline Vanieri

Pauline Colmache, born in London on 23 September 1833, was the daughter of Charles Edouard Colmache, a French diplomat, and Georgina Alice Lee, an English journalist and writer. Her father was secretary to the famous Prince Talleyrand who was for a time French ambassador in London. Her French childhood was not without music and she was able to make her concert debut at Toulouse in 1855. After further study with Duprez in Paris she made a successful operatic debut as Pauline Vaneri in the title role of Lucrezia Borgia at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on 13 July 1858 and over the next two years acquired a British reputation in opera and concert. She occasionally shared the concert stage with Parepa and on at least once with a youthful Carl Rosa who was still appearing as ‘the celebrated boy violinist’ in his seventeenth year.
Vaneri appeared successfully at major continental opera houses throughout the 1860s although she did make a few visits to Scotland where she had become a favourite offering a mixture of arias and Scots ballads. She took up teaching at the Milan Conservatoire in 1868, married Filippo Fillipi, a Conservatoire director, in the same year, and continued with her vocal career. Return visits to Britain followed in the early 1870s and the Rosas were able to recruit her for their new company. She covered the dramatic roles in the absence of an unwell Parepa in the inaugural 1873 season and sadly in the following season after her death.
Her Rosa debut at Manchester on 3 September 1873 in the title role of Lucrezia Borgia impressed the critics and the audience with the authority of her performance. The Manchester Courier commented that ‘Her singing was that of a mistress of her art and she walked the stage in a manner to remind us of the great lyric artists.’ She continued in a similar vein over two seasons with Il Trovatore (Leonora), Don Giovanni (Donna Anna), Marriage of Figaro (Countess) and a solitary Amelia in Ballo in Maschera. Her final Rosa appearance was a Don Giovanni at Glasgow on 25 November 1874 after almost fifty performances. It was a brief but timely association with the Rosa as she came when the original British company was in need of an experienced dramatic soprano.
Vaneri’s subsequent career merged with teaching and family although there were some later British concert appearances. She died in London on 5 January 1916.

© 2021 John Ward

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