John Sims Reeves, English tenor

Posted on 29th October 2020 by simonbeattie

This is a copy of the first edition of My Jubilee or Fifty Years of Artistic Life (1889), the published memoirs of John Sims Reeves (1818–1900), one of the leading English tenors of the nineteenth century.  ‘He made his début at La Scala in 1846 as Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor [featured in one of the plates here, opposite p. 74] and in 1847 he appeared as Zamoro in Verdi’s Alzira.  Returning to London in December that year he sang Edgardo at Drury Lane, where on 20 December 1847 he created the role of Lyonnel in Balfe’s The Maid of Honour.  In February 1848 he sang Faust in the first performance in England of Berlioz’s La damnation de Faust under the composer.  From 1848 he sang at Her Majesty’s Theatre, first under Lumley’s and then Mapleson’s managements.  In 1851 he was briefly engaged at the Théâtre Italien, Paris.  In London he sang the title role in Faust in the opera’s first performance in English in 1864, and Huon in the revival of Oberon in 1866.  In 1848 he appeared at the Norwich Festival and sang in Handel’s Messiah at the Sacred Harmonic Society, and thereafter he appeared regularly at the various choral festivals.  He was particularly admired in Handel oratorios and for his performance of the Evangelist in Bach’s St Matthew Passion, which he sang under Sterndale Bennett in 1862 …  He made his formal farewell appearance at the Royal Albert Hall in 1891, but reappeared in a concert in 1893, and made a tour of South Africa in 1896 with his pupil Maud Richard, whom he had married the previous year’ (New Grove).

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