Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Syria Lamonte, An Australian Opera Singer

A young barmaid working at Rules Restaurant in London was invited to make the first recording on flat disc for His Master's Voice. She had an excellent and large soprano voice. The year was 1898 and the song was 'Coming Through The Rye'. Her name was Syria Lamonte and she was an Australian opera singer. (Please see Tony Locantro's note).

This is the myth. Syria Lamonte worked as a singer at the restaurant, not a barmaid. She is probably turning in her grave at the very thought!

Born in Sydney, Lamonte was trained in opera by two highly skilled teachers, Madame Chambers and Signor Checi. They also taught Nellie Melba. The young and beautiful soprano soon started getting musical engagements. She sang at the Tivoli in Sydney at the beginning of her career. The Sydney Morning Herald described Lamonte as having 'a fine soprano voice.'

Lamonte sang in various opera companies in Australia and visited many capitals and country towns. According to The Brisbane Courier, she made 'a very favourable impression' in the opera 'In Town' and 'her vivacious singing of 'The Gay Parisian' was warmly applauded.'

The young opera singer decided to try her luck in London. She sang at music-halls there as well as the restaurant. She was also engaged for the opera 'Lohengrin' in Berlin. Lamonte sang in many countries, including Russia and America. Eventually she came back to Melbourne where she retired.

(The Tivoli, Sydney from The Dictionary of Sydney.org)

3 comments:

britvar108 said...

Syria Lamonte appeared in variety at the Palace Theatre, Blackburn, 29 Jan - 3 Feb 1900.

Tony Locantro said...

There is no evidence that Syria Lamonte ever sang in the main part of Rule's Restaurant although she may have sung at a private function in one of the smaller upstairs rooms. It is more likely that she got into conversation with Fred Gaisberg in the restaurant and told him of her training and career in Australia so he invited her to make some recordings. Her stint working at Rules comes at the time when she first arrived in London and was still looking for work. Between 28 August and the end of October 1898 she made 16 recordings for The Gramophone Company and we assume that she stopped recording when she obtained employment on the Music Halls.
Tony Locantro

Viola said...

Thank you very much, Tony. I will make a note on my post referring to your comment.

It is a pity that no one has written a biography of Syria. She was certainly very interesting!