Leonora Braham

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Leonora Braham (1853-1931)[1] was a British singer and actress.

Not to be confused with L. Braham, a British Christy's style singer and performer, who visited the country in 1862.


Born Leonora Lucy Abraham in London on 3 February 1853, she began her stage career in 1870 with German Reed Entertainments in London, and in 1878 moved to Canada, where she continued to perform in comic opera. On her return to England, she was engaged by the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, eventually creating five of the principal soprano roles in the Gilbert and Sullivan operas, among them the title role in Patience (1881), "Phyllis" in Iolanthe (1882), the title role in Princess Ida (1884), Yum-Yum in The Mikado (1885), and "Rose Maybud" in Ruddigore (1887).

Having left the D'Oyly Carte company, Braham went on to in England and widely on tour, appearing in both comic opera and grand opera in South Africa, South America and Australia. She returned to England in the mid-1890s, to appear in musical comedy and light opera. She briefly rejoined the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company in this time, and continued to perform until 1912 in Britain and America.

She passed away on 23 November 1931.

Contribution to South African theatre and performance

She visited South Africa in 1893-4 as the leading actress for Edgar Perkins and Arturo Bonamici's Lyric Company while on tour in South Africa, including performances in the Opera House, Cape Town.

She had the distinction of playing the leading role of "Dorothy" in a performance of Stephenson and Cellier’s musical Dorothy, the opening production of the new Cape Town Opera House on 31 August 1893.

Besides Dorothy, the company's repertoire also included La Cigale ( Meilhac and Halevy), The Old Guard (Boucicault), La Mascotte (Audran, Duru and Chivot), Maritana (Wallace and Fitzball), Haddon Hall (Grundy and Sullivan), Rip van Winkle (Planquette and Farnie), Iolanthe (Gilbert and Sullivan), The Mikado (Gilbert and Sullivan) and Princess Ida (Gilbert and Sullivan).Other performances by the company included Faust (Gounod), La Traviata (Verdi), I Pagliacci (Leoncavallo) and Cavalleria Rusticana (Mascagni) .



D.C. Boonzaier, 1923. "My playgoing days – 30 years in the history of the Cape Town stage", in SA Review, 9 March and 24 August 1932. (Reprinted in Bosman 1980: pp. 374-439.)

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp. 382, 390, 397-8, 400.

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