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Pauline Joran

Pauline JoranPauline Joran, born at Freeport Illinois on 3 August 1870, was one of a trio of celebrated child performers with Pauline as violinist and her sisters ‘Lula’ and ‘Elise’ as pianists. They toured in America and abroad in the 1880s as part of a concert troupe and in 1890 came to Europe for further studies. Preliminary vocal training with the earlier concert troupe and the training in Europe had revealed that Pauline had a promising soprano voice and when the sisters came to London in 1892 she was advised that a vocal career was possible. An introduction to the conductor Wilhelm Ganz led to a Rosa trial appearance as Arline in an extract from Bohemian Girl at the Theatre Royal Manchester on 12 April 1892 and an engagement followed.

Joran as Beppe in l'Amico Fritz

Pauline began as a regular member of the company at Cork Opera House on 8 August 1892 with another Bohemian Girl, an opera in which her extensive vocal range enabled her to sing both Arline and Gipsy Queen. Two days later on 10 August she appeared as Beppe in the British English-language premiere of Mascagni’s L’Amico Fritz. The role requires singing and playing the violin, and Pauline delighted everyone by doing both splendidly to turn a minor role into perhaps her most memorable one. The illustration shows her in costume complete with violin. Another premiere followed in Dublin on 10 September when she sang the title role in Bizet’s Djamileh opposite Barton McGuckin. Additional roles were Mercedes in Carmen, Siebel in Faust, Lazarillo in Maritana, Ann Chute in Lily of Killarney, and Venus in Tannhäuser. When the season ended on 3 June 1893 she had made about 150 appearances with nine roles in eight operas.

She had little time to rest as Augustus Harris wanted her for the role of Beppe in Covent Garden performances of L’Amico Fritz to be directed by Mascagni himself and on 15 July she repeated it before Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle. Harris retained her, and Covent Garden, Drury Lane and provincial tours were coupled with some continental appearances in 1895 and occasional appearances as solo violinist. When Harris died she returned to the Rosa with three Carmen performances – the title role and not Mercedes – at the Garrick Theatre in the January 1897 London season. A year later she was with the D’Oyly Carte to create the role of Saida in Sullivan’s last opera The Beauty Stone. It ran for only two months and then it was back to the Rosa once more. During her last season she made about twenty appearances adding Nedda, Marguerite, and Santuzza to her Rosa repertoire. Her operatic farewell was probably in Bohemian Girl at the Shakespeare Theatre Liverpool on 18 March 1899.

Her professional career ended when she married Baron William Ernest de Bush on 6 December 1899. Her husband sadly died in a rail accident in 1903 but as Baroness de Bush, she continued as a lively social figure, retaining her musical interests, and as late as 1951 she was able to provide opera historian Harold Rosenthal with recollections of her Rosa years. She died in London on 13 August 1954 and was interred in the Bush tomb at Kensal Green with the inscription:

Make Sweet Melody, Sing Many Songs, That Thou May’st Be Remembered

It was an appropriate epitaph for one who was both violinist and singer.

© 2020 John Ward

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