Robert Cunningham

Robert Cunningham (1892-93)

[Born Hobart, Tasmania 7 Feb 1866]

Robert F. Cunningham was originally engaged in the wool trade and finance.He came to England in 1889, studied singing under William Shakespeare and Hermann Klein, and made his initial stage appearance in Bolton in October 1891, with the Carl Rosa Opera Company, as Thaddeus in The Bohemian Girl.

Cunningham was soon engaged by the D'Oyly Carte organization to play John Manners in Haddon Hall on tour with D'Oyly Carte Company "D" beginning in September 1892.In March 1893 he transferred to the Savoy, where he played Manners until the end of the London run.It was his London Stage debut.He returned to Company "D" as Manners from May to July, then left the Carte organization.

Cunningham shortly returned to Carl Rosa with whose Company he would spend twelve years playing leading tenor roles in Faust, Carmen, Il Trovatore, Cavalleria Rusticana, Pagliacci, Cinq Mars, The Flying Dutchman, Mignon, Tannhäusser, and other operas in the Rosa repertory.One of his more remarkable roles was Olybius in Arthur Sullivan's The Martyr of Antioch, which Rosa gave in full operatic staging at the Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, on February 15, 1898.

Cunningham appeared in grand opera through the 1907 season at Covent Garden, appeared in some lighter works in 1908-09, then spent seven years in concert and variety work.He returned to the London Stage in 1916 as Ugo Cararo in the musical play Mr. Manhattan at the Prince of Wales's Theatre. Cunningham made his New York debut in Messager's Monsieur Beaucaire in 1919 at the New Amsterdam Theatre.He appeared in musicals and legitimate stage works in London from time to time through 1931, when he took his last significant role as the Archbishop of Rheims in Shaw's Saint Joan.

Page modified September 4, 2009 © 2001-09 David Stone