Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Calzado Who?

In 1863 in Australia there appeared out of nowhere a singer who advertised herself as 'Florence Beverley" late of the London Daily Mail. So, she has supposedly come FROM London where one assumes she had been singing in some way to be bequested a mention in the London Daily Mail.  She was acting as her own agent. Now, this is a dangerous thing to do at the best of times and failing to secure any engagement she was then touted under the management of a Kate Howard as "Floraette Blanche Beverley" a name which appeared once in the Argus and was never seen again. She then next appears in New Zealand with a small troupe under the management of T.R. Jones, which included a sword dancer. Horace Poussard, the touring French dose of culture on four strings and his Steiner violin poached her into his company and then she reappears packaged as "Florence Calzado" She then tours with him (under my past managerial tour of India and South Africa) with Amelia Bailey and the children. Then she comes back to Australia, having borne him child (we think), lists herself as widowed and marries a miner named "Samuel Paynter Thomas Cornish" in Hill End NSW and disappears.

Now she is a puzzle and a half of full-cream bamboozlement for she never appeared the slightest bit savvy about the business of chasing gingerbread (making money in stage-work) nor showed any gusto more that the required swig necessary to board a clipper and sail to Australia. Indeed, Heidi (see previous post) had dreamed a dream that starred in a supporting role the said Florence Calzado. It was a walk on role. Literally, for Heidi dreamt she was walking up the gangway onto a boat conscious of the woman behind her whose lack of stride was the cause of much vexation. It was a case of the "Oh Lord's sake do hurry Florence"s without needing to speak it. Curiously Heidi knew it to be in South Africa and wondered why the husbands (R.S.Smythe and H. Poussard) were not in the dream. Heidi's dream did prove to be most accurate as I found out LATER that both Smythe and Horace had left for England nearly six month earlier. The ladies stayed at the Cape alone without the children.

We have three photos of Florence but no name, no dates (though she looks to be about having been born in the 1840s) and no clue as to her beginnings nor her end. Her vocal talents were almost unanimously thought to be average except in the Natal in South Africa where her 'comic vocalist' stylings made her a hit. I am sure she hadn't expected that. But she could sing. She was nervous, timid, not urgent in nature so why come out to the Antipodes? The last image of her is on a cracked glass plate negative in the State Library of New South Wales under Mr Painter and Son. The sons face is missing, flaked off and poor Florence whose face is present is not even mentioned or named. Her face too, is haggard and defeated. Sad.

The London Daily Mail is, as it's title cleverly makes you suspect,  a daily paper and trawling through it from 1862-1863 is beyond even my capacity to suffer the sea sickness of rolling through barrels of microfilms. Anyway, we don't even have the microfilms of that publication here.

There was a famous theatrical family named the Beverley's (William Roxby Beverley and family) and an infamous Havana born Italian opera manager named Torribio Calzado (in London in the 1850s) who got caught cheating at cards but apart from this quo vadis? Was she progeny of either? Miss Calzado has torn out my hair for years, leaving no trail nor clue other that just a slow steady tale of fatigue and dwindling career. One Florentina Carro Calzado was born in 1842 in Valladoid, Spain to father Patrick Calzado (since when is Patrick a Spanish name? I received no memo on the subject) Was she Spanish? English? A Yorkshire lass? God help me. Calzado! Show yourself!

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