Ethel McAlpine as Mrs. Partlett in The Sorcerer

Ethel McAlpine (1879-81, 1882-83, 1884-85, 1891-92, 1897-1900)

[Born London Feb 1853, died St. Anne's, Lancashire 7 Jan 1933]

Ethel McAlpine had several tours with the D'Oyly Carte organization:as a principal soprano in the 1880s and early 1890s, and as a contralto from 1897 to 1900. Born Edith Jane Murray, she joined the D'Oyly Carte organization in 1879, presumably as a chorister, but her first appearance in a named part came with Carte's newly-formed "D" Company on March 1, 1880. From that point until December 11, 1880, she toured as Aline in The Sorcerer and Josephine in H.M.S. Pinafore. From December 1880 to July 1881, Miss McAlpine toured as Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance with "D" (from March 1881 forward known as "C") Company.

From August 1, 1881, she appeared as Patience in the first provincial production of the aesthetic opera with a newly-formed Mr. D'Oyly Carte's "D" Company, until the tour ended in December 1881. She then appears to have left the Carte organization for a spell, her next appearance being as Josephine and Mabel with Mr. D'Oyly Carte's "B" Company (later Mr. D'Oyly Carte's "Pinafore" and "Pirates" Company) from August 1882 to February 1883.

From February 26, 1883, she played Phyllis in Iolanthe with Mr. D'Oyly Carte's No. 1 "Iolanthe" Company, then in March 1883 transferred to Mr. D'Oyly Carte's No. 1 "Patience" Company, touring as the dairy maid title character until December 1883. This was followed by another break in service. She returned to the D'Oyly Carte with Mr. D'Oyly Carte's "C" (Repertory) Company in October 1884, appearing alternately with Clara Merivale as Josephine, Mabel, and Patience until December. From February to May 1885 she toured with Carte's "D" Company as Aline and as Princess Ida in Princess Ida, then from September to December 1885 she was back with the "C" (Repertory) Company as Aline, Mabel, Patience and (from November) Josephine.

Miss McAlpine was away from the D'Oyly Carte from December 1885 until September 1891, when she returned for a nine-month stint with "B" Company as Elsie Maynard in The Yeomen of the Guard, Gianetta in The Gondoliers, and (from December) Hollie Beebee in The Nautch Girl. She left again in June 1892.

During her absence she toured for two years in the title role in Planquette's Nell Gwynne. She also appeared in pantomime and music hall, sang incidental music for Shakespearean productions, and performed in German Reed "entertainments" at St. George's Hall, London.

In 1897 she returned to the D'Oyly Carte again:this time as principal contralto. She served with D'Oyly Carte Opera Company "B" from August 1897 to June 1898, appearing as the Queen of the Fairies in Iolanthe, Katisha in The Mikado, Dame Carruthers in The Yeomen of the Guard, Mrs. Partlett in The Sorcerer, and Ruth in The Pirates of Penzance. She then went to London where, in September 1898, she appeared as Mrs. Partlett in the third revival of The Sorcerer at the Savoy. She returned to the provinces in December 1898, touring with Carte's Company "D" as Widow Merton in The Vicar of Bray and Lady Vernon in Haddon Hall until September 1899. At some point she returned to the Savoy as understudy to Rosina Brandram, where in September 1900 she filled in briefly as Ruth in The Pirates of Penzance. It was her last role with the Company.

Miss McAlpine was married to D'Oyly Carte tenor James Sydney. Their son was a bass chorister on tour with various D'Oyly Carte companies from 1897 to 1903 under the name of Sidney McAlpine.

Page modified November 26, 2002 © 2001-02 David Stone