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Seeking to cultivate popular support for opera in the Victorian Era, American-style opera evolved with traveling troupes performing in English, particularly during the post-Civil War period.
This playbill, ca. 1860s, is for the performance of the Arnold and Tilla's English Opera Troupe at Norumbega Hall in Bangor. The company was formed by the principle artists of the Kellogg Opera Company and the Richings Opera Company for a three-week tour of Maine. They performed the Daniel Auber opera, Fra Diavolo and Michael William Balfe's Bohemian Girl on two different nights. Fra Diavolo was one of the Kellogg Company's standard operas while Bohemian Girl was performed regularly by the Richings Company.
Performers of note included Blanche Ellerman, a London-born Prima Donna who obtained a contract with the Caroline Riching Opera Company and American-born James Albert Arnold who joined the Riching Company around 1866. The pair would marry in 1869.
Clara Fisher was born in London and was considered a prodigy of the stage. At the age of 16 she emigrated to the United States, debuting to rave reviews. She became so financially successful, she was able to retire from the stage in 1844. Poor investments forced her to resume performing in 1850. At the time of her appearance in Bangor, Fisher would have been in her mid-50s.
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Tucker Printing House
Opera, American Opera
Music | United States History
Tilla, W. H.; Horton, William; Ellerman, Blance; Birch, Walter; Oakley, D.; Bartleman, Tom; Arnold, James A.; Fisher, Clara; and Howson, Frank, "Arnold and Tilla English Opera Troupe Playbill" (1867). Maine Bicentennial. 106.