Beatrice Elburn

Beatrice Elburn (1925-30)

[Died 24 May 1975]

Beatrice Elburn joined the D'Oyly Carte Repertory Opera Company in July 1925 and immediately assumed the minor roles of First Bridesmaid in Trial by Jury, Kate in The Pirates of Penzance, the Lady Saphir in Patience, Leila in Iolanthe, Peep-Bo in The Mikado, Ruth in Ruddigore, and Giulia in The Gondoliers.During her first season she also filled in on occasion in the principal soubrette role of Edith in The Pirates of Penzance, the Lady Angela in Patience, Iolanthe in Iolanthe, and Mad Margaret in Ruddigore.Towards the close of that season she switched from Giulia to Vittoria in The Gondoliers.

For the 1926-27 season she added the role of Chloe in Princess Ida to her regular assignments, filling in that season periodically as Edith in The Pirates of Penzance, Mad Margaret in Ruddigore, and Phoebe Meryll in The Yeomen of the Guard.Miss Elburn took a brief leave from the Company in May 1927, after the Canadian tour, but returned in July for the start of the new season, once more as Bridesmaid, Kate, Saphir, Leila, Chloe, Peep-Bo, Ruth, and Vittoria.She continued to understudy the mezzo-soprano roles, filling in in 1927-28 on occasion as Melissa in Princess Ida and Phoebe.

When Aileen Davies left at the end of the 1927-28 season, Beatrice Elburn moved into most of the principal mezzo roles:taking Angela in Patience, Iolanthe in Iolanthe, Margaret in Ruddigore, and Tessa in The Gondoliers.However, Pauline Wootten (who had transferred in from the recently disbanded "New" Company) took Edith in Pirates and Pitti-Sing in The Mikado, and Miss Elburn retained her smaller parts (Kate and Peep-Bo) in those operas for 1928-29.

Beatrice Elburn's career as a principal soubrette did not last long.In July 1929, Marjorie Eyre shifted from soprano to soubrette, taking over as Iolanthe and Tessa, and Miss Elburn reverted to her former roles in Iolanthe and Gondoliers.She was left with Angela and Margaret as her lone principal soubrette parts:and those only until May (when Miss Eyre assumed Margaret, leaving Miss Elburn once more with Ruth) and October (when Nellie Briercliffe was brought in for the 22-week London season at the Savoy).Miss Elburn from then on contented herself with Kate in Pirates, Leila, Chloe, Peep-Bo, and Vittoria, with occasional substitutions as Margaret and Phoebe.She left the D'Oyly Carte on March 22, 1930, at the end of the London season.

Miss Elburn may be heard on several D'Oyly Carte recordings:as Peep-Bo (and as part of Pitti-Sing) in the 1926 Mikado, as Vittoria in the 1927 Gondoliers, as Tessa in the 1931 abridged Gondoliers, and as Phoebe in the 1931 Yeomen of the Guard.She also sang Peep-Bo in a 1926 BBC broadcast, and may be seen in that role, however briefly, in a four-minute silent promotional film made of the D'Oyly Carte Mikado in 1926.

After leaving the Company she made a few more appearances on the London Stage: in The Fountain of Youth (Lyric, Hammersmith, 1931); in Hammerstein & Kern's Music in the Air (His Majesty's, 1933-34); and in Noel Coward's Conversation Piece (His Majesty's, 1934).She was also involved with children's theatre, and for many years produced operas for the Burgess Hill Operatic Society and other amateur groups.

Page modified June 24, 2002 © 2001-02 David Stone