Friday, January 28, 2011

More HAT at the ibookstore

I have released two more short books at the ibookstore. Both are about the stars of the early Australian stage. One book deals with performers in the Royal Comic Opera Company during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Details here

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Gertrude Concannon- A Great Queenslander

Gertrude Concannon was a Queensland born soprano who toured the world to great acclaim.

She was born in Maryborough in 1899, to Tim and Annie Concannon. The family was quite musical. Gertrude sang, and her two sisters, Josephine and Eileen played the piano and violin respectively.

In the early 20s Gertrude was very popular in Queensland. Her voice was described as having 'crystaline clarity.'

Around 1924 she started studying with Madame Christian in Sydney, a year later she was on her way to the United States to work with the Doree Opera Company.

She stayed away from Australia for 13 years and sang in the United States, London, Egypt, and India.

In 1943 she married John Degnian a man she had known from her Maryborough childhood. The couple married at St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney.

Gertrude continued her career as a singer, composer and teacher of singing in Australia until her death in 1978.

She was a great and talented Queenslander...

If you are able, please help some other great and talented Queenslanders by donating to the Queensland Premier's Flood Appeal . These floods are a terrible disaster for the people of Queensland.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

HAT-Website Update

I have updated HAT-History of Australian Theatre website with 300 new names on the database, several new pictures of old performers and an article about Celia Ghiloni.

Remember, HAT books are now available at the ibookstore. Look under my name- Leann Richards. More books will be published in the next two weeks.

In other news Gae Anderson has published a fantastic book about Tivoli founder Harry Rickards. The book is available through her website. A very good read.

And here is Harry Rickards, the English originator of Australia's very famous Tivoli circuit. A generous and ambitious man who rose from English Music Hall performer to millionaire theatrical entrepreneur.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Alfred Tischbauer- Scenic designer

Many years ago I found this lovely print of George Street Sydney, bought it, and put it on my wall.
It was titled, George Street Sydney, 1883 from the original oil by Alfred Tischbauer at the Dixson Galleries.

Last year, I purchased a box of memorabilia which originated with Jack Ricketts, a scenic designer. In the box were many letters some of them were from...Alfred Tischbauer.

Tischbauer, known as 'Tish ' to his friends was a French born artist who was involved in the Paris Commune. According to legend he was deported to New Caledonia and from there came to Australia He was born around 1854 and arrived in Melbourne in 1879.

He began his career as a teacher and fine artist in Sydney, but by the late 1880s was working for theatrical manager Alfred Dampier as a scenic designer.

The Frenchman was not only an artist , he was also a romantic chap. In Melbourne he had an affair with his boss's maid. The poor girl fell madly in love with the exotic artist, and when he didn't return her feelings, she committed suicide. During the subsequent enquiry, Dampier and his family stuck by Tish .

The good relationship between Tish and Dampier didn't last, and in 1893 Dampier declared himself bankrupt and amongst his creditors was Alfred Tischbauer who was owed 591 pounds in salary.

Tischbauer never got over Dampier's betrayal.He worked for a while in Australia as a teacher and then departed for America with his wife in 1903. He worked as a designer for some American managers but didn't enjoy the work.

In 1909 he wrote the above letter to Jack Ricketts.

"I learnt the death of our dear friend A D ( Dampier) as I receive newspapers from Sydney pretty regularly. So that now the chances to recover some of my poor earnings are gone for ever."

It seems that Tish had a long memory and held a grudge. In his other letters he seems educated, articulate, somewhat depressed but always generous.

Tish's wife returned to Australia in 1922 and she was described as his widow. It is assumed that Tish died in the US shortly before her return.