t h e   r o s a   t r o u p e

Diego de Vivo, C. D. Hess and Uranus Crosby

Diego de Vivo

Diego de Vivo, C.D. Hess and Uranus Crosby had a short-lived relationship with the company but they played a major part in its American birth and should be remembered.

Diego de Vivo born at Sarno, Italy, on 8 January 1822, arrived in New York as a political exile in 1855 and for a time gave Italian language lessons before becoming secretary to the tenor Pasquale Brignoli. This introduced him to the opera industry and a career as agent and manager followed. He was with the Rosa as business manager from 1868 until they left America in 1872. His management continued for many years with many artists and companies. He retired about 1889 and remained a conspicuous figure in New York operatic circles with recollections published in the New York Sun in 1897. He died in New York on 11 August 1898 and is buried in the Actors Fund Plot at Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn.

C. D. Hess

C. D. Hess, born at Cohocton, New York, on 21 January 1838 is usually known by his initials although military records indicate that he was named Clarence. He entered show business as a boy soprano and remained there for most of his working life other than his time in the Union Army during the Civil War. At the end of hostilities he returned to theatre management and in 1866 joined forces with Uranus Crosby in Chicago until their theatre burnt down in 1871. Hess, like de Vivo, continued in the opera industry for many years. He retired to a farm at Westville, Indiana, in the 1890s, died there on 19 February 1909 and is buried in the local cemetery.

Crosby Opera House

Uranus H. Crosby from Cape Cod, born at Brewster, Mass. on 17 August 1831, came to Chicago about 1850 and made a fortune distilling alcohol. He used his wealth to improve the cultural life of the city with a magnificent theatre opened in 1865 with opera in mind. Crosby’s Opera House (illustrated below) generated cultural awakening amidst constant financial difficulties and a Crosby cousin had taken over the theatre by early 1871. His ownership was brief as the theatre burned to the ground in the Great Chicago Fire of October 1871 and was never rebuilt. Uranus appears to have subsequently avoided theatrical speculation. He died on 23 March 1903 at Brewster and is buried there.

Crosby Opera House

These three men came together in late 1868. Uranus and Hess wrote to Parepa in September about the formation of an English Opera company. The Rosas, then giving Italian Opera in San Francisco, had been thinking along similar lines, and they with de Vivo agreed to meet in Chicago. They travelled the hazardous overland route from California by stage coach and reached the security of Chicago in late November without being robbed or scalped! Negotiations began immediately and an agreement was reached but not implemented owing to the illness of Parepa. A revised arrangement was finally sealed in Chicago in June of the following year. The Parepa Rosa Opera Company with Hess and Carl as directors opened in New York in September and made three visits to Crosby’s palatial theatre before its destruction. The Crosby-Parepa relationship also ended at this time but the Rosas were able to give one more season in America before crossing the Atlantic and continuing in Britain for almost a century. The Chicago meeting had generated enduring operatic consequences.

© 2017 John Ward

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