Blanche Roosevelt

Blanche Roosevelt (1879-80)

[Born Sandusky, Ohio 1853, died London 10 Sep 1898]

Blanche Roosevelt Tucker traveled to Europe with her mother for vocal studies in Paris and Milan.  As Mdlle. Rosavella, she made her singing debut at the Royal Italian Opera House, Covent Garden, in 1876 as Violetta in La Traviata.  She went on to sing in concerts in Milan, Belgium, Holland, and Paris.

In September 1879 she made her D’Oyly Carte debut at the Opera Comique, as one of several artists to appear as Josephine during the original run of H.M.S. Pinafore.  She was then chosen by Gilbert, Sullivan, and Carte to play Josephine for American audiences in the first authentic D’Oyly Carte Pinafore at New York’s Fifth Avenue Theatre, December 1, 1879.  On December 31 of that year, in the same theatre, she created the role of Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance, playing it in New York and on tour until March 1880 when she left the Company.

Later that year she formed her own Opera Company, appearing in unsuccessful productions of Cellier’s The Sultan of Mocha (Union Square Theatre, New York, September 1880) and Stephenson & Cellier’s adaptation of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s The Masque of Pandora (Boston Theatre, January 1881).  Miss Roosevelt was able, through her personal friendship with Longfellow, to get the poet’s permission for the adaptation.

She shortly retired from the stage, largely at behest of her husband, an Italian, Signor Macchetta, who had succeeded to the title of Marquis d’Alligri, and devoted herself instead to journalism and literature.  She had earlier worked as a special correspondent from Paris in 1875 for newspapers in Chicago and London, and later took up a similar assignment in Milan during the weeks surrounding the premiere of Verdi’s Othello in February 1887.  Her dispatches were collected in book form as “Verdi, Milan, and Othello,” published later that year.  Earlier books by Miss Roosevelt included “The Copper Queen,” “Stage Struck,” “The Home Life of Henry W. Longfellow,” and “The Life and Reminiscences of Gustave Dore,” for which she was reportedly the first American woman honored by the French Academy.

In 1897, Blanche Roosevelt Macchetta, Marchesa d’Alligri, was riding in a carriage in Monte Carlo when the horses bolted.  The carriage overturned before it could be halted, killing the driver, and seriously injuring its occupant.  She returned to London but never recovered from her injuries, dying the next year.  She is buried in Brompton Cemetery

Further details on her remarkable life may be found in an article “Blanche Roosevelt,” by Charles Metz, in the March 23, 1963, issue of Opera News.

Page created August 27, 2001 © 2001 David Stone