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Ella Halman

Ella Halman

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Ella Louise Halman was an English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 opera singer, best known for her performances in the contralto
Contralto
Contralto is the deepest female classical singing voice, with the lowest tessitura, falling between tenor and mezzo-soprano. It typically ranges between the F below middle C to the second G above middle C , although at the extremes some voices can reach the E below middle C or the second B above...

 roles of the Savoy Operas with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company
D'Oyly Carte Opera Company
The D'Oyly Carte Opera Company was a professional light opera company that staged Gilbert and Sullivan's Savoy operas. The company performed nearly year-round in the UK and sometimes toured in Europe, North America and elsewhere, from the 1870s until it closed in 1982. It was revived in 1988 and...

. She married another D'Oyly Carte performer, L. Radley Flynn
L. Radley Flynn
L. Radley "Rad" Flynn was an English singer and actor, best known for his performances in bass roles of the Savoy Operas with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company. He married D'Oyly Carte contralto Ella Halman in 1940....

, in 1940.

Life and career


Halman was born in Ealing
Ealing
Ealing is a suburban area of west London, England and the administrative centre of the London Borough of Ealing. It is located west of Charing Cross and around from the City of London. It is one of the major metropolitan centres identified in the London Plan. It was historically a rural village...

, Middlesex
Middlesex
Middlesex is one of the historic counties of England and the second smallest by area. The low-lying county contained the wealthy and politically independent City of London on its southern boundary and was dominated by it from a very early time...

. At age eighteen, Halman won the Sussex
Sussex
Sussex , from the Old English Sūþsēaxe , is an historic county in South East England corresponding roughly in area to the ancient Kingdom of Sussex. It is bounded on the north by Surrey, east by Kent, south by the English Channel, and west by Hampshire, and is divided for local government into West...

 County Scholarship in singing, then studied for several years at the Brighton
Brighton
Brighton is the major part of the city of Brighton and Hove in East Sussex, England on the south coast of Great Britain...

 School of Music.

After touring for three years with the Carl Rosa Opera Company
Carl Rosa Opera Company
The Carl Rosa Opera Company was founded in 1873 by Carl August Nicholas Rosa, a German-born musical impresario, to present opera in English in London and the British provinces. The company survived Rosa's death in 1889, and continued to present opera in English on tour until 1960, when it was...

, she completed her studies in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. After some experience in concert work and teaching, she joined the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company as a chorister in 1937. Soon she assumed the role of Inez in The Gondoliers
The Gondoliers
The Gondoliers; or, The King of Barataria is a Savoy Opera, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert. It premiered at the Savoy Theatre on 7 December 1889 and ran for a very successful 554 performances , closing on 30 June 1891...

and, as understudy, began occasionally to play Katisha in The Mikado
The Mikado
The Mikado; or, The Town of Titipu is a comic opera in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert, their ninth of fourteen operatic collaborations...

and the Duchess of Plaza-Toro in The Gondoliers. By 1939, she was also filling in as Ruth in The Pirates of Penzance
The Pirates of Penzance
The Pirates of Penzance; or, The Slave of Duty is a comic opera in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert. The opera's official premiere was at the Fifth Avenue Theatre in New York City on 31 December 1879, where the show was well received by both audiences...

and the Queen of the Fairies in Iolanthe
Iolanthe
Iolanthe; or, The Peer and the Peri is a comic opera with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert. It is one of the Savoy operas and is the seventh collaboration of the fourteen between Gilbert and Sullivan....

.

On Christmas Day in 1939, Halman became the D'Oyly Carte principal contralto. For the next eleven years, she played Ruth in Pirates, Lady Jane in Patience
Patience (opera)
Patience; or, Bunthorne's Bride, is a comic opera in two acts with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert. First performed at the Opera Comique, London, on 23 April 1881, it moved to the 1,292-seat Savoy Theatre on 10 October 1881, where it was the first theatrical production in the...

, Queen of the Fairies in Iolanthe, Katisha in The Mikado, Dame Carruthers in The Yeomen of the Guard
The Yeomen of the Guard
The Yeomen of the Guard; or, The Merryman and His Maid, is a Savoy Opera, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert. It premiered at the Savoy Theatre on 3 October 1888, and ran for 423 performances...

, the Duchess of Plaza Toro in The Gondoliers, Dame Hannah in Ruddigore
Ruddigore
Ruddigore; or, The Witch's Curse, originally called Ruddygore, is a comic opera in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert. It is one of the Savoy Operas and the tenth of fourteen comic operas written together by Gilbert and Sullivan...

, and Little Buttercup in H.M.S. Pinafore
H.M.S. Pinafore
H.M.S. Pinafore; or, The Lass That Loved a Sailor is a comic opera in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and a libretto by W. S. Gilbert. It opened at the Opera Comique in London, England, on 25 May 1878 and ran for 571 performances, which was the second-longest run of any musical...

.

Halman and Flynn left the D'Oyly Carte organisation in 1951 and moved to America, where they toured, along with Martyn Green
Martyn Green
William Martyn-Green , better known as Martyn Green, was an English actor and singer. He is best known for his work as principal comedian in the Gilbert & Sullivan comic operas, which he performed and recorded with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company and other troupes.After army service in World War I,...

, in a series of Gilbert and Sullivan
Gilbert and Sullivan
Gilbert and Sullivan refers to the Victorian-era theatrical partnership of the librettist W. S. Gilbert and the composer Arthur Sullivan . The two men collaborated on fourteen comic operas between 1871 and 1896, of which H.M.S...

 productions presented by S. M. Chartock. Halman's roles on the 1952 tour included Buttercup, Ruth, the Queen of the Fairies, and Katisha. The Flynns then returned to England, where they settled in Penrith, Cumbria
Penrith, Cumbria
Penrith was an urban district between 1894 and 1974, when it was merged into Eden District.The authority's area was coterminous with the civil parish of Penrith although when the council was abolished Penrith became an unparished area....

in retirement but were involved with amateur operatic societies, principally the Penrith Savoyards from 1959. In 1975, during the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company's centennial season, Halman was invited to participate in the final performance of Trial by Jury, in which the regular D'Oyly Carte chorus was augmented by fourteen former stars of the company.

Halman recorded a series of interviews, regarding recollections of her life and career, in the early 1990s with BBC Radio Cumbria. She died in Penrith at the age of 88.

Recordings


Her recordings with D'Oyly Carte, all between 1949 and 1951 when the company was taking advantage of the new LP technology, included Ruth in Pirates, Lady Jane in Patience, Queen of the Fairies in Iolanthe, Katisha in The Mikado, Dame Carruthers in Yeomen, the Duchess of Plaza Toro in The Gondoliers, Dame Hannah in Ruddigore, and Little Buttercup in Pinafore. She also sang Katisha in a 1951 BBC radio broadcast.

External links