Harper-Leffler Company

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There are five references to a company using (variations of) this name.

The Harper-Leffler Opera Company

Henry Harper, miss Annette Hirst and Mrs J.H. Leffler from the Royal Opera House, London performed six concerts of opera selections in the Commercial Exchange and the Mutual Hall, Cape Town from 5 August - 9 September 1868. They were sometimes billed as the Harper-Leffler-Hirst Company.

The Miranda-Harper Company

From December 1868 to January 1869 the Harper-Leffler Company was back for a new season, now with the addition of David Miranda (the husband of Annette Hirst, and the stage manager of the company, in addition to his role as singer and co-manager), hence the company became known as the Miranda-Harper Company. A full season of new concerts were performed during August 1869, making them not the first to perform opera in SA, but the first opera company to do so for an entire season. They also performed in Rondebosh, Simonstown, and various rural towns, travelling as far as Grahamstown and Port Elizabeth.

The full company of five consisted of David Miranda, Mrs Leffler, Miss Hirst, Mrs Smith and Mr Campbell, with a Mrs Morris as accompanist, and on occasion a locally sourced chorus.

Their repertoire for the 1869 season included performances in the Mutual Hall and the New Market Building, Cape Town, of selections from various operas, as well as performances of La Somnambula (Belini), The Bohemian Girl (Balfe), Il Trovatore (Verdi), Maritana or Don Caesar de Bazan (Wallace), Lucrezia Borgia (Donizetti), The Messiah (Handel)[1] and Martha (Flotow/Riese). They also participated in two sacred concerts in the St Aloysius Hall with local amateurs and a Grand Fête and Fancy Fair in the Company Gardens, as part of the Agricultural Show of that year.

By 1870 the company had disbanded.

The Henry Harper Company

In December 1883 Henry Harper took over the remnants of the Mabel Hayes company after she had decamped for Port Elizabeth, to put on a production of a Christmas pantomime Humpty Dumpty. He had taken a lease on the new Theatre Royal, Cape Town, and opened it on 18 June 1884 with a production of Faces in the Fire (Bayard & Laurencin/Buckingham) and The Two Gregories (Sewrin/Dibdin).

According to Boonzaier (1923), the rest of his first season (1884-5) there consisted of plays such as: Meg's Diversion (Craven), Henry Dunbar (Taylor), My Uncle's Will (Theyre-Smith), Aladdin (Anon.), The Marquis and the Cobbler (d'Ennery/Dance), East Lynne (Wood), The Octoroon (Boucicault), The Field of the Cloth of Gold (Anon.), Nita's First (Warren), Our Boys (Byron), Society (Robertson), Guy Mannering (Terry and Bishop), Queen's Evidence (Conquest and Pettitt), Dead to the World (Conquest and Pettitt), Les Cloches de Corneville (Clairville and Gabet), Fedora (Sardou/Merivale), The Bells (Erckmann-Chatrian), Sweethearts and Wives (Kenney), Proof (D'Ennery and Cormon/Blanchard), The Wanderer's Return (Anon.), The Duke's Motto (Feval/Brougham), The Bohemian Girl (Bunn and Balfe), The Ticket-of-Leave Man (Brisebarre and Nus/Taylor), Dick Whittington and His Cat (Blanchard), Delicate Ground (Dance) and about six one act farces.

Besides Harper himself, the company included the performers H.C. Sidney,

The Harper-Leffler Repertory Company, Kimberley

According to Du Toit (1988), a Harper-Leffler Company also performed as permanent ‘repertory’ company, and was active in Kimberley during the 1890s.


F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: 184-6, 243-9, 274, 286, 292-5, 299, 376-380.

P.J. du Toit. 1988. Amateurtoneel in Suid-Afrika. Pretoria: Academica

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