(Mark David Damazer, CBE. A Streatham Hill resident and a former Master of St Peter's College, Oxford, former controller of BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 7 director was a Director of the Carl Rosa Opera Company until 2002)
Brief history of Carl Rosa:
The union between the soprano Euphrosyne Parepa and the violinist Carl Rosa generated the Carl Rosa Opera Company. They travelled to American in 1865 as members of a concert troupe promoted by the Baltimore impresario Hezekiah Linthicum Bateman. They were successful, remained in America, and eventually married in New York on 26 February 1867.
The outbreak of war two years later curtailed touring but there were London seasons with Joan Hammond, Gwen Catley, Heddle Nash, Norman Allin, Dennis Noble, Parry Jones and Tudor Davies. The end of the war restored the traditional provincial tour but in a climate of post-war austerity.
Mrs Phillips took over the management in 1948, as her husband was unable to continue through ill health. A financial crisis in 1951 prompted the Arts Council subsidy to support further tours in an uneasy alliance with the Carl Rosa Trust. Happily, the company remained adventurous and the 1956 London season included Berlioz's Benvenuto Cellini with Charles Craig in the title role.
Two years later another financial crisis involving both the Carl Rosa and Sadler's Wells companies led to further friction with the Trust. The Arts Council controversially withdrew its subsidy and most of the Carl Rosa artists toured for the last time under the guise of 'Touring Opera 1958'. This was an unhappy ending for a cherished organisation that had been on the road for almost ninety years. The Carl Rosa tradition lived on by merging with Sadlers' Wells Opera.
(Carl Rosa Opera Company)
Images Carl Rosa, Streatham Hill Theatre and Mark Damazer