Rosina Brandram as Lady Sophy in Utopia Limited

Rosina Brandram (1877-1903)

[Born London 2 Jul 1846, died Southend-on-Sea, Essex 28 Feb 1907]

Rosina Brandram, whose real surname was Moult, joined the D'Oyly Carte organization in 1877 as chorus member and understudy to Mrs. Howard Paul as Lady Sangazure in the first production of The Sorcerer at the Opera Comique, a role she filled briefly in December of that year. She next took Lady Sangazure on tour with Carte's touring Comedy Opera Company (March to August 1878), returning to the Opera Comique where, the following year, she stepped in as Little Buttercup in H.M.S. Pinafore briefly in August 1879.

She then accompanied Gilbert, Sullivan, and Carte to New York where, on December 31, 1879, she created the role of Kate in The Pirates of Penzance. She toured America though June 1880 as Kate (and possibly, at times, as Edith) in Pirates, with Carte's First American Pirates Company and, briefly, the Second. She also gave at least one performance as Little Buttercup while in America.

Upon returning to England she settled in at the Opera Comique, first as Kate in Pirates (December 1880 to April 1881). During the first run of Patience (April 1881 to November 1882) at the Opera Comique and, later, the Savoy, she appeared in two one-act companion pieces:as Margery Daw in Uncle Samuel and Mrs. Bowcher in Mock Turtles, and also filled in on occasion for Alice Barnett as the Lady Jane in Patience. During Iolanthe's run at the Savoy (November 1882 to January 1884), she continued her roles in the curtain-raisers (Mrs. Bowcher again, followed by Mrs. Frumpington in A Private Wire) and in September 1883 filled in for a spell for Jessie Bond as Iolanthe.

Beginning with Princess Ida (January 1884), Miss Brandram assumed the principal contralto roles at the Savoy in every Sullivan opera for the next seventeen years.In order, she created the part of Lady Blanche (Princess Ida, January 1884), played Lady Sangazure in the first London revival of The Sorcerer (October 1884), and then created Katisha (The Mikado, March 1885) and Dame Hannah (Ruddygore, January 1887). Next came the first London revivals of H.M.S. Pinafore (as Little Buttercup, November 1887), The Pirates of Penzance (as Ruth, March 1888, and The Mikado (as Katisha, June 1888). She then created the parts of Dame Carruthers in The Yeomen of the Guard (October 1888), and the Duchess of Plaza-Toro in The Gondoliers (December 1889). She went on tour as the Duchess briefly with D'Oyly Carte Company "C" (April to June 1890), then returned to the Savoy.

There was no part for her in The Nautch Girl, but she remained at the Savoy, appearing as Widow Jackson in the curtain-raiser Captain Billy from August 1891 to January 1892.When a revised version of Grundy and Solomon's The Vicar of Bray was produced next (January to June 1892), Miss Brandram played Widow Merton. She next created the roles of Lady Vernon in Haddon Hall (September 1892), Miss Sims in Jane Annie (May 1893), Lady Sophy in Utopia (Limited) (October 1893), the Marquise de Montigny in Mirette (July 1894), and Inez de Roxas in The Chieftain (December 1894). The Chieftain cast toured the London suburbs starting in March 1895; then she returned to the Savoy for the second revival of The Mikado (November 1895), again as Katisha. This was followed by the ultimate Gilbert & Sullivan creation, The Grand Duke (March 1896), in which she created the role of the Baroness von Krakenfeldt. When audiences for The Grand Duke began to wane, The Mikado was revived again (July 1896), and Miss Brandram had her fourth engagement as Katisha.

She took a break from the Savoy during His Majesty (February to April 1897), but returned for the first revival of The Yeomen of the Guard (May to November 1897), as Dame Carruthers, of course. She left again during The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein (December 1897 to March 1898), but was back for the first revival of The Gondoliers (March to May 1898), and to create the role of Joan in The Beauty Stone (May to July 1898). Next came The Gondoliers again (the Duchess, July to September 1898), and the second revival of The Sorcerer (Lady Sangazure, September to December 1898).

Miss Brandram took another break from the Savoy, missing the ill-fated The Lucky Star (January to May 1899), but returned for the second revival of H.M.S. Pinafore (Little Buttercup, June to November 1899), then created the part of "Dancing Sunbeam" in The Rose of Persia (November 1899 to June 1900), appeared again as Ruth in the second revival of The Pirates of Penzance (June to November 1900) and Lady Jane in the first revival of Patience (November 1900 to April 1901), and created the part of the Countess of Newtown in Sullivan's last opera, The Emerald Isle (April to November 1901). She next took the part of Wee-Ping in the original version The Willow Pattern, which played for just sixteen performances with Ib and Little Christina in November 1901. When Iolanthe was revived in December, The Willow Pattern remained on the bill, but in a shortened form in which Wee-Ping was eliminated. Miss Brandram was by then playing the Queen of the Fairies in Iolanthe.

Iolanthe was followed at the Savoy by two original works by Basil Hood and Edward German. Rosina Brandram had prominent roles in both:as Queen Elizabeth I in Merrie England (April to July 1902, then on tour, then back at the Savoy November 1902 to January 1903) and Nell Reddish in A Princess of Kensington (January to May 1903). The Savoy Company then took A Princess of Kensington on tour. After touring a few months, the Savoy Company disbanded, marking the end of Miss Brandram's D'Oyly Carte career.

She appeared infrequently on stage thereafter. In December 1903 she was at the Adelphi as the Sea Witch and the Queen in Hood and Walter Slaughter's fairy pantomime Little Hans Anderson, and in May 1904 she appeared as Emerance Countes de Champ Azur in Veronique at the Apollo.

Rosina Brandram suffered from pulmonary disease in her last years and was unable to attend the December 1906 O.P. Club dinner in celebration of the London revival of the Savoy Operas. She was on the programme and had been scheduled to give the reply to the toast "The Savoyards," but Jessie Bond took her place in her absence. W. S. Gilbert in his remarks that evening paid special tribute to Miss Brandram: "Rosina of the glorious voice that rolled out as full-bodied burgundy rolls down:Rosina whose dismal doom it was to represent undesirable old ladies of sixty-five but, who, with all the resources of the perruquier and the make-up box, could never succeed in looking more than an attractive eight-and-twenty (it was her only failure)." She died on February 28, 1907.

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