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Selina Dolaro



Opera diva, playwright, and manager Selina Dolaro emerged as a vocal artist in her native England, singing Offenbach at age seventeen. An ambitious woman with an acute ear for quality, she took over management of London's Haymarket Theatre. There she organized the backing for the first staging of the first Gilbert & Sullivan opera, "Trial by Jury." In 1877 she toured America singing Carmen with the Mapleson Grand Opera Troupe. Her voice did not project sufficiently to fill the larger opera houses, so the tour failed. She worked briefly with the Acme and then the Bijou comic opera companies before eventually attaching herself to Col. McCaull's light opera company. She sang in many of its productions of the early 1880s--"La Grande Duccena," "La Perichois," and "La Fille de Mme. Argot."

In 1886 Dolaro contracted a disease that incapacitated her. She turned to dramatic writing to support herself, composing "Justina," produced at the Park Theatre, and "Fashion," produced at the Lyceum Theatre. She also published "Mes Amours" and a gothic novella "Bella Demonia" in Lippincott's Magazine. When she died in 1889 two of her children were employed as stage performers. Her daughter Hattie Dolaro would win fame on the opera stage.

NOTES: Obituary, New Haven Register (Jan 24, 1889), 3. David S. Shields/ALS