J. A. Arnold (1882-83)

[Born 8 Aug 1838, died 4 Apr 1905]

American-born James Albert Arnold first appeared in opera in the United States in the 1850s. He was with the Caroline Richings Company for several opera productions in New York in 1868-69. In the mid-1870s, he and his family moved to England, where he first appeared at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in July 1876

J. A. Arnold was the original Christopher Crab in Stephens and Solomon's Billee Taylor when it was first produced at the Imperial Theatre, London, October 1880-January 1881. In June 1882, he appeared at the Opera Comique as Captain Corcoran in the ill-fated Horace Lingard and W. Luscombe Searelle comic opera The Wreck of the Pinafore. Originally produced in New Zealand and Australia, the tasteless sequel was withdrawn after its fourth London performance. Later that year, Arnold appeared in Charles Reade and Henry Pettitt's five-act drama Love and Money at the Adelphi.

His only known appearance under D'Oyly Carte auspices was in a December 1882-July 1883 tour of Planquette's Rip Van Winkle in which he played the title role.

Upon completion of the tour, he continued to play Rip at the Comedy Theatre, London, in place of its creator, Fred Leslie, whose increasing salary demands were more than the management was willing to meet. The opera ran until October 14, 1883. In August 1885, he appeared in Brighton and then toured through December in a musical variety drama called Jack-in-the-Box. That work was subsequently produced at the Strand Theatre, London (February-May 1887) with Arnold again in the cast. Arnold had at least one subsequent London appearance, albeit a brief one. From December 24, 1896, to January 2, 1897, he played Lazarus in The Key to King Solomon's Riches, Limited, a "Rhodesian Drama" in four acts at the Opera Comique.

Also known as a singer in grand opera and an actor-manager, J. A. Arnold was the father of Savoyard G. Villiers Arnold.

Page created August 27, 2001 © 2001 David Stone