Signor Brocolini

Signor Brocolini

American opera singer
Date of Birth: 26.09.1841
Country: USA

  1. Biography of Signor Brocolini
  2. Early Life and Career
  3. Operatic Success and International Career
  4. Later Years and Legacy

Biography of Signor Brocolini

Signor Brocolini, an American opera singer of Irish descent, began his career as a journalist, played professional baseball, and in the 1870s began performing on the opera stage. He is best known for being the first performer of the role of the Pirate King in the original New York production of Arthur Sullivan and William Gilbert's comic opera "The Pirates of Penzance."

Early Life and Career

John Clark was born on September 26, 1841, in County Cork, Ireland, to Scottish parents John and Lillian Clark. His family immigrated to the United States to escape the Great Famine, and they settled in Brooklyn, New York, around 1853. It was in Brooklyn that Clark adopted the stage name Signor Brocolini, giving it an Italian twist.

As a young man, Clark developed a passion for baseball and played for the Detroit Base Ball Club while working as a typesetter. However, he found his true calling in journalism and became a reporter for a small newspaper in Brooklyn. In 1865, after the end of the Civil War, Clark moved to Detroit, Michigan, where he worked as a proofreader and continued playing baseball. He married Lizzie Fox in July of the same year, and they had a son named Kingsley Clark. Clark eventually became a writer for the "Detroit Advertiser and Tribune" and also served as the director of the Detroit baseball team, which became the best club in the state with his help.

In 1868, Clark returned to Brooklyn and continued his career in journalism, writing for the "Brooklyn Eagle" until 1875. During this time, he also began performing in concerts and churches under his real name. In December 1868, he sang as a bass soloist at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. By 1872, he had become a leading artist in the newly formed Brooklyn Operatic Association.

Operatic Success and International Career

Throughout the 1870s, Clark gained increasing recognition in New York City. With the support of his Brooklyn friends, he raised five and a half thousand dollars to study singing in Italy. After studying with Italian vocal teachers, Clark adopted the stage name Signor Brocolini and made his opera debut in London at Her Majesty's Theatre in the spring of 1876. He was the only American whose opera career started in London at that time. Over the next four years, Brocolini performed leading opera roles at Her Majesty's Theatre, the Royal Opera House, and embarked on extensive concert tours.

In October 1879, Brocolini joined the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company and participated in the premiere of "The Pirates of Penzance" in New York City in November. In addition to performances in the UK and the United States, Brocolini also toured Australia with his operatic talents. His repertoire primarily consisted of bass roles in contemporary comic operas such as "The Mikado" and "Princess Ida." Brocolini also founded his own opera company to stage "The Pirates of Penzance" in Boston in the summer of 1887.

Later Years and Legacy

By this time, the artist had started suffering from severe rheumatism, which significantly reduced his performance activities in the following years. Brocolini continued to sing in comic operas throughout the 1890s. He participated in revivals of "Ruddigore" and "The Mikado" in 1888 with the Stetson Opera Company. He also played the Duke of Plaza Toro in "The Gondoliers" in Brooklyn in 1890 and appeared in "Patience" in 1892 with the Brooklyn Amateur Operetta Company. Eventually, his worsening rheumatism forced Brocolini to retire from the opera stage, although he continued to give concerts.

In 1890, Brocolini returned to Brooklyn and became a music critic for the "Brooklyn Eagle." From 1894, he taught and conducted local choirs and established his own "The Brocolini Choir." He also wrote articles about music and composed several works, including the cantata "The Triumph of the Cross," several operettas, and church music.

In 1897, Brocolini married Sarah Clark. In 1905, he took over the management of the Millard Opera Company, in which Laura Millard performed. Signor Brocolini passed away on June 7, 1906, in Brooklyn.