SANTLEY IN NEW ZEALAND.
FAMOUS SINGER'S STORIES OF A COLONIAL TOUR. (From Our Special Correspondent.)
LONDON, January 20. I am indebted ■to the publishers, Sir Isaac Pitman and Sons, for an advance copy of his Charles Hantiey's "Reminiscences," a volume which is to be published on February 4th. It contains some interesting anecdotes relating to the Australasian tour which the famous baritone made in 1889-90. In Auckland Santley sang in "Elijah" and "The Messiah," performed by the Auckland Choral Society. "The Chorus," he says, "was good, the orchestra limp, and the conductor what we commonly designate 'a caution.' He came to run through the two works with mc, and suggested so many cuts that at Inst I asked him if it woiiid not be better perhaps to leave 'Elijah' out altogether; to which he mildly remarked that 'we must cut something.' He reached his climax at the air 'Is not his word like a fire?', which he declared must be omitted. "Why on earth shall wo leave that out?' said I ' If I don't sing it the people will throw the benches at me.' 'Oh, , he replied very piteously, 'it goes so fast!' For the same reason he would have insisted on leaving out ' Why do the Nations?' in the 'Messiah.' He was a great German professor, and held the 'Chair of Music' at the College or University." Sir Charles has very little else to say of his New Zealand tour. At Xclson so many people were turned away from the concert that he gave a second concert, "when the audience assembled outside the loom and enjoyed the concert, gratis." He says the oratorios in which he took part in Dunedin were very creditably performed by the local choirs and orchestra. Of a teetotal breakfast given as a welcome to him in Melbourne, Sir Charles Santley sacfcS with questionable taste, "The affair was of such a funereal character that I jumped for joy at the termination of the proceedings. So dismal an entertainment I had never taken part in, not even a funeral. It might have been an augury of what was lo follow. I must not omit to mention that I was the recipient of bouquets and wreaths intended by the donors to make my heart rejoice, but they only succeeded in intensifying the dullness of the solemn function." Santley's sense of humour does not appear to have been parficularly keen, and lie took himself very seriously. When an interviewer asked him, six hours after his arrival from England. "What do you think of Australia?" Santley might very well have treated , the question jocularly. He might have said "Well, I've been here six hours, J bat T havn't seen half of it yet," or ; something equally light-hearted. In--1 stead of that he replied in his solemn I way: "As I only set my foot on shore I a few hours ago I really cannot tell ! you." Then by way of turning the! j tables on the interviewer ho got off this portentous jest: "I notice the sky is overcast, do you think fhere is any probability of a snowstorm T" "Oh, dear, no," said the reporter, staring ) hard, "we never have snow here," Hav- | ing made the interviewer thoroughly nervous and uneasy Santley bowed him out, feeling, no doubt, that he himself had "scored." A second interviewer was announced. He too was uneasy in the singer's presence. The idea of putting him at his ease never seems to have occurred to the celebrity. Instead, he inquired formally, "Might I request the honour of knowing what you wish to ask mc?" The embarrassed young man replied, "Upon my word, I "don't know. I was sent here to interview you. but I have no idea how to begin." Santley told liim he had better "arrange the interview according to his own fancy," and bowed him out. No doubt the nervous J interviewers did not show to advantage, but I cannot see that Santley did either.
fiantley speaks of his Australian tour as his "exile." He disliked the look of Melbourne. The hotel he stayed in "deserved anathema." In Sydney his hotel was "infested with rats, cockroaches and swarms of mosquitos," and the food was of a quality that made him fear "starvation by inehep." At "Brisbane "the bedrooms would have been condemned by the workhouse authorities at Home, the cookery was wretched, and other apartments could only be described by fni-Tjidden expletives."' The hotel at Broken Hill was "the most sublimely dismal habitation I ever slept in." Ancl 60 on. and so on—a monotonous series of grumbles the whole way through. But he cheers himself up by announcing, with the modesty so characteristic of famous singers, that his four might be in Julius Caesar's classic phrase:— "Veni, vidi, vici!"
Santley has numerous anecdotes to tell of his colonial tour.. rJut they lack the sprightliness that a more lively sense of humour would have given them. In contrast, for example, with the vivacious reminiscences of Madame Emily Soldene, they are as flat soda water to freshly opened champagne.
Fairfax Media is the copyright owner for the Auckland Star. You can reproduce in-copyright material from this newspaper for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons New Zealand BY-NC-SA licence . This newspaper is not available for commercial use without the consent of Fairfax Media. For advice on reproduction of out-of-copyright material from this newspaper, please refer to the Copyright guide.
This newspaper was digitised in partnership with Auckland Libraries.
Use these buttons to limit your searches to particular dates, titles, and more.
Print, save, zoom in and more.