Benjamin Lumley (1811 – 17 March 1875 in London) was a Canadian-born British opera manager and solicitor. Born Benjamin Levy, he was the son of a Jewish merchant Louis Levy.
Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres, making it the world's second-largest country by total area. Canada's southern border with the United States is the world's longest bi-national land border. Its capital is Ottawa, and its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. As a whole, Canada is sparsely populated, the majority of its land area being dominated by forest and tundra. Consequently, its population is highly urbanized, with over 80 percent of its inhabitants concentrated in large and medium-sized cities, many near the southern border. Canada's climate varies widely across its vast area, ranging from arctic weather in the north, to hot summers in the southern regions, with four distinct seasons.
The British people, or the Britons, are the citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the British Overseas Territories, and the Crown dependencies. British nationality law governs modern British citizenship and nationality, which can be acquired, for instance, by descent from British nationals. When used in a historical context, "British" or "Britons" can refer to the Celtic Britons, the indigenous inhabitants of Great Britain and Brittany, whose surviving members are the modern Welsh people, Cornish people, and Bretons. It may also refer to citizens of the former British Empire.
Lumley's father was a clothes-dealer who had made his original fortune in Canada. The young Benjamin Levy was a pupil at King Edward's School, Birmingham.
King Edward's School (KES) is an independent day school for boys in Edgbaston, an area of Birmingham, England. Founded by King Edward VI in 1552, it is part of the Foundation of the Schools of King Edward VI in Birmingham.
Lumley trained as a solicitor, and then studied for the Bar under Basil Montagu. In this capacity he gave legal advice to the financially troubled manager of what was then His Majesty's Theatre, Pierre Laporte, who came to rely on him extensively. As Lumley had become familiar with making managerial decisions for the theatre, when Laporte died in 1841 the board of the opera company, consisting mainly of wealthy noblemen, asked him to take over.
A bar association is a professional association of lawyers. Some bar associations are responsible for the regulation of the legal profession in their jurisdiction; others are professional organizations dedicated to serving their members; in many cases, they are both. In many Commonwealth jurisdictions, the bar association comprises lawyers who are qualified as barristers or advocates in particular, versus solicitors. Membership in bar associations may be mandatory or optional for practicing attorneys, depending on jurisdiction.
Basil Montagu was a British jurist, barrister, writer and philanthropist. He was educated in Charterhouse School and studied law in Cambridge, later wrote and worked on reforms in bankruptcy laws of Britain. He served as Accountant-General in Bankruptcy between 1835 and 1846. He was highly influenced by the writings of Francis Bacon. He was the son of John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, and his mistress, singer Martha Ray.
Her Majesty's Theatre is a West End theatre situated on Haymarket in the City of Westminster, London. The present building was designed by Charles J. Phipps and was constructed in 1897 for actor-manager Herbert Beerbohm Tree, who established the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art at the theatre. In the early decades of the 20th century, Tree produced spectacular productions of Shakespeare and other classical works, and the theatre hosted premieres by major playwrights such as George Bernard Shaw, J. M. Synge, Noël Coward and J. B. Priestley. Since the First World War, the wide stage has made the theatre suitable for large-scale musical productions, and the theatre has accordingly specialised in hosting musicals. The theatre has been home to record-setting musical theatre runs, notably the First World War sensation Chu Chin Chow and the current production, Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera, which has played continuously at Her Majesty's since 1986.
Lumley had already written a standard handbook on Parliamentary private bills and was launched on a promising legal career. But his memoirs clearly indicate his pleasure in mixing in high society and making a name for himself. Management of the now renamed (after the accession of Queen Victoria) Her Majesty's Theatre gave him an opportunity of close relationship with stars of the opera and ballet, to giveand to be invited to ostentatious parties, and to bring high-quality Italian opera to Victorian London.
Victoria was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. On 1 May 1876, she adopted the additional title of Empress of India.
The conductor at Her Majesty's was Michael Costa. By their different natures – one a devotee of high musical standards, the other a connoisseur of the star system, Lumley and Costa should have made a perfect team. And indeed they were so for the first five years, one of the longer surviving partnerships of the age. Artistic progress – induced by Lumley, against the inclinations of the more conservatively inclined Costa – included the introduction of operas by Giuseppe Verdi to London, and new singing and dancing stars to replace the fading 'old guard', negotiations with Felix Mendelssohn for an opera on William Shakespeare's play The Tempest – and, in 1847, the London debut of Jenny Lind. The resulting financial success led the optimistic Lumley to purchase the underlying lease of the theatre.
Sir Michael Andrew Angus Costa was an Italian-born conductor and composer who achieved success in England.
Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi was an Italian opera composer. He was born near Busseto to a provincial family of moderate means, and developed a musical education with the help of a local patron. Verdi came to dominate the Italian opera scene after the era of Vincenzo Bellini, Gaetano Donizetti, and Gioachino Rossini, whose works significantly influenced him. By his 30s, he had become one of the pre-eminent opera composers in history.
Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, born and widely known as Felix Mendelssohn, was a German composer, pianist, organist and conductor of the early Romantic period. Mendelssohn's compositions include symphonies, concertos, piano music and chamber music. His best-known works include his Overture and incidental music for A Midsummer Night's Dream, the Italian Symphony, the Scottish Symphony, the oratorio Elijah, the overture The Hebrides, his mature Violin Concerto, and his String Octet. The melody for the Christmas carol "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" is also his. Mendelssohn's Songs Without Words are his most famous solo piano compositions.
One of the sensations of Lumley's management was the balletic 'Pas de Quatre', choreographed by Perrot, and with music by Pugni, in 1845. This divertissement, which featured as dancers Marie Taglioni, Carlotta Grisi, Cerrito and Grahn, may have been inspired by Lumley seeing four girls dancing outside the theatre. The 'Pas de Quatre' became an institution and is frequently revived.
Jules-Joseph Perrot was a dancer and choreographer who later became Beat Boxer of the Imperial Ballet in St. Petersburg, Russia. He created some of the most famous ballets of the 19th century including Pas de Quatre, La Esmeralda, Ondine, and Giselle with Jean Coralli.
Marie Taglioni, Comtesse de Voisins was a Swedish ballet dancer of the Romantic ballet era, a central figure in the history of European dance. She was one of the most celebrated ballerinas of the romantic ballet, which was cultivated primarily at Her Majesty's Theatre in London, and at the Théâtre de l'Académie Royale de Musique of the Paris Opera Ballet. She is credited with being the first ballerina to truly dance en pointe.
Carlotta Grisi was an Italian ballet dancer. Born in Visinada, Istria, she was trained at the ballet school of Teatro alla Scala in Milan and later with dancer/balletmaster Jules Perrot. She was especially noted for her performance in the classic role of "Giselle".
First, Costa felt neglected by Lumley, who, wisely from an artistic point of view, was not keen to produce Costa's own ballets and operas. Furthermore, Lumley refused to permit Costa to take up the appointment of chief conductor to the Royal Philharmonic Society, then the leading London symphonic orchestra. In 1846 Costa decamped to Covent Garden, with most of the orchestra and singers, and the support of some leading London critics, to establish there the second Royal Italian Opera Company in competition with Lumley.
Lumley swiftly fought back, showing all his skills as an opportunist. He engaged the composer Michael Balfe to replace Costa. In 1847, despite legal threats from the Covent Garden management, he brought Jenny Lind over for her London debut, for which he had prepared with unprecedented levels of spin and publicity. Giuseppe Verdi had been engaged to write an opera for London. Originally, it was intended to be Macbeth , but this was first given in Florence, so Verdi decided to produce I masnadieri for London.
Verdi left Italy at the end of May 1847 with his work for London completed, except for the orchestration, which he left until the opera was in rehearsal. The cast assembled for the premiere on 22 July 1847 was of the highest international standard. In particular, as the highlight of her first season in England, the great Swedish coloratura soprano Jenny Lind was engaged to create the role of Amalia, the opera's heroine. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert attended the first performance, together with the Duke of Wellington and every member of the British aristocracy and fashionable society that was able to gain admission.
After considerable persuasion Verdi agreed to conduct the premiere, which was a triumphant success, and the press was for the most part generous in its praise. Fortunately for Lumley, things had turned out well – and very profitably. Lind appeared as Alice in Robert le diable by Giacomo Meyerbeer, and Mendelssohn, on his last London visit, who had encouraged her to take up Lumley's offer, was in the audience despite his known distaste for Meyerbeer's work.
Lumley had also extensively advertised Mendelssohn's Tempest opera as forthcoming. This was a bare-faced lie. Mendelssohn found the libretto by Eugene Scribe completely unacceptable and did not even begin to write the music for it. The death of Mendelssohn in 1847 however gave Lumley an escape from his fabrications, and he commissioned the French composer Fromental Halévy to take it on. But the premiere of La Tempesta in 1850 was, at most, a succès d'éstime.
Meanwhile Lumley had extended his interests by taking on in addition the management of the Théâtre des Italiens in Paris, and was soon negotiating with the actress Rachel and Victor Hugo. His frenzied activities resemble closely the hubris of speculative tycoons over-reaching themselves. He soon began to have problems paying his stars and was surprised when they began to walk out on him. The soprano Johanna Wagner, niece of the composer Wagner, was lured to Covent Garden, sparking off a complex litigation. The resulting case, 'Lumley v. Gye', is still regarded as a fundamental basis of employment contract law. Lumley won the case, but it was for him a pyrrhic victory, resulting in financial loss.
By 1853 the financial problems were overwhelming, and Lumley ran for cover to France. He was tempted back when in 1856, the Covent Garden Theatre once again caught fire, and for three years he became again a leader of Italian opera in London. But when Covent Garden was rebuilt, (the same theatre that stands today), he was offered the tenure for £100,000, funds which he simply didn't have.
Lumley returned to the law, and in his later years wrote two works of fantasy and a legal reference book. His previous successes were never to be repeated. He died in 1875, leaving less than £1000 in his will.
Giacomo Meyerbeer was a German opera composer of Jewish birth who has been described as perhaps the most successful stage composer of the nineteenth century. With his 1831 opera Robert le diable and its successors, he gave the genre of grand opera 'decisive character'. Meyerbeer's grand opera style was achieved by his merging of German orchestra style with Italian vocal tradition. These were employed in the context of sensational and melodramatic libretti created by Eugène Scribe and were enhanced by the up-to-date theatre technology of the Paris Opéra. They set a standard which helped to maintain Paris as the opera capital of the nineteenth century.
Johanna Maria "Jenny" Lind was a Swedish opera singer, often called the "Swedish Nightingale". One of the most highly regarded singers of the 19th century, she performed in soprano roles in opera in Sweden and across Europe, and undertook an extraordinarily popular concert tour of the United States beginning in 1850. She was a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music from 1840.
The Royal Opera House (ROH) is an opera house and major performing arts venue in Covent Garden, central London. The large building is often referred to as simply "Covent Garden", after a previous use of the site of the opera house's original construction in 1732. It is the home of The Royal Opera, The Royal Ballet, and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. Originally called the Theatre Royal, it served primarily as a playhouse for the first hundred years of its history. In 1734, the first ballet was presented. A year later, Handel's first season of operas began. Many of his operas and oratorios were specifically written for Covent Garden and had their premieres there.
Grand opera is a genre of 19th-century opera generally in four or five acts, characterized by large-scale casts and orchestras, and lavish and spectacular design and stage effects, normally with plots based on or around dramatic historic events. The term is particularly applied to certain productions of the Paris Opéra from the late 1820s to around 1850; 'grand opéra' has sometimes been used to denote the Paris Opéra itself.
I masnadieri is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Andrea Maffei, based on the play Die Räuber by Friedrich von Schiller. As Verdi became more successful in Italy, he began to receive offers from other opera houses outside the country. The London impresario Benjamin Lumley had presented Ernani in 1845 and, as a result of its success, commissioned an opera from the composer which became I masnadieri. It was given its first performance at Her Majesty's Theatre on 22 July 1847 with Verdi conducting the first two performances.
Henry Fothergill Chorley was an English literary, art and music critic, writer and editor. He was also an author of novels, drama, poetry and lyrics.
Thérèse Carolina Johanne Alexandra Tietjens was a leading opera and oratorio soprano. She made her career chiefly in London during the 1860s and 1870s, but her sequence of musical triumphs in the British capital was terminated by cancer.
Robert le diable is an opera in five acts composed by Giacomo Meyerbeer from a libretto written by Eugène Scribe and Germain Delavigne. Robert le diable is regarded as one of the first grand operas at the Paris Opéra. It has only a superficial connection to the medieval legend of Robert the Devil.
The Salle Le Peletier or Lepeletier was the home of the Paris Opera from 1821 until the building was destroyed by fire in 1873. The theatre was designed and constructed by the architect François Debret on the site of the garden of the Hôtel de Choiseul on the rue Lepeletier. Due to the many changes in government and management during the theatre's existence, it had a number of different official names, the most important of which were: Théâtre de l'Académie Royale de Musique (1821–1848), Opéra-Théâtre de la Nation (1848–1850), Théâtre de l'Académie Nationale de Musique (1850–1852), Théâtre de l'Académie Impériale de Musique (1852–1854), Théâtre Impérial de l'Opéra (1854–1870), and Théâtre National de l'Opéra (1870–1873).
Frederick Gye (1810–1878) was an English businessman and opera manager who for many years ran what is now the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
Antonio Giuglini was an Italian operatic tenor. During the last eight years of his life, before he developed signs of mental instability, he earned renown as one of the leading stars of the operatic scene in London. He created several major roles for British audiences, appearing in the first London performances of Gounod's Faust and Verdi's Un ballo in maschera. In London, he was the usual stage partner of the great dramatic soprano Thérèse Tietjens.
Lumley v Gye  EWHC QB J73 is a foundational English tort law case, heard in 1853, in the field of economic tort. It held that one may claim damages from a third person who interferes in the performance of a contract by another.
Franz Ferenczy was a nineteenth-century German tenor who had a prolific opera career in Europe between 1859-1880. Possessing a powerful voice with a wide vocal range, Ferenczy particularly excelled in the operas of Giacomo Meyerbeer and Richard Wagner. He is best remembered today for originating the role of Samson in the world premiere of Camille Saint-Saëns's Samson et Dalila in 1877. His brother, José Ferenczy (1852–1908), was also a successful operatic tenor.
Hector Dupeyron (1861–1911) was a French operatic tenor who had a prolific opera career in Europe from 1887 through 1906. Possessing a powerful and dramatic voice, he particularly excelled in the works of Richard Wagner and Giacomo Meyerbeer.
Italo Gardoni was a leading operatic tenore di grazia singer from Italy who enjoyed a major international career during the middle decades of the 19th century. Along with Giovanni Mario, Gaetano Fraschini, Enrico Tamberlik and Antonio Giuglini, he was one of the most celebrated Italian tenors of his era.
Sophie Johanne Charlotte Crüwell, vicountess Vigier, stage name Sophie Cruvelli was a German opera singer. She was a dramatic soprano who had a brief but stellar public career especially in London and Paris in the middle years of the 19th century. She was admired for her vocal powers and as a tragédienne. Both Verdi and Meyerbeer created operatic roles with the intention that she should first perform them.
Filippo Coletti was an Italian baritone associated with Giuseppe Verdi. Coletti created two Verdi roles: Gusmano in Alzira and Francesco in I Masnadieri. Verdi revised the role of Germont in La traviata for Coletti, whose interpretation re-defined the role as it is known today. Filippo Coletti was, with Antonio Tamburini (1800–1876) and Giorgio Ronconi (1810–1890), one of the three leading baritones of 19th century Italy, an early model of a 'Verdi baritone'.
[Category:Canadian emigrants to England]]