Wallace Brownlow

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Wallace Brownlow

Wallace Brownlow (1861[1] – September 1919) was an opera singer and actor of the Victorian era best known for baritone roles in the operas of Gilbert and Sullivan.

D'Oyly Carte Opera Company[edit]

Brownlow joined a D'Oyly Carte Opera Company touring company in 1884 and was assigned to the chorus. He travelled to the United States in 1885 in the chorus of The Mikado with D'Oyly Carte's first American Mikado company in New York City and Boston. He next toured Germany and Austria with D'Oyly Carte in 1886. During this tour, Brownlow appeared as the Foreman of the Jury in Trial by Jury, his first principal role. He first appeared at the Savoy Theatre in London in the chorus in the original 1887 production of Ruddygore. As the understudy to Richard Temple, Brownlow played the character of Sir Roderick Murgatroyd in August 1887.

Brownlow continued in the chorus at the Savoy Theatre during the first London revivals of H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, and The Mikado. A one-act comic opera, Mrs. Jarramie's Genie, written by Frank Desprez and composed by Alfred Cellier and his brother Francois was the curtain raiser for these revivals, and Brownlow appeared as the retired upholsterer, Harrington Jarramie.

With Decima Moore as Luiz and Casilda in The Gondoliers

Brownlow created the role of Sir Richard Cholmondeley, the Lieutenant of the Tower of London in the next Savoy opera, The Yeomen of the Guard, in 1888 at the Savoy Theatre. Coincidentally, his father had been Drill Master of the Yeomen of the Queen's Body Guard.[2] He next created the role of Luiz in The Gondoliers, which he played from the opera's premiere in December 1889 until April 1891.[3] Brownlow left the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company to play Prince John in Arthur Sullivan's grand opera Ivanhoe and as the Duc de Longueville in La Basoche at the Royal English Opera House. He next played in a number of comic operas in London through 1893, including the role of William in Blue-Eyed Susan, composed by F. Osmond Carr, at the Prince of Wales's Theatre in 1892.[4]

Australia, US, and later years[edit]

Brownlow as The Sultan in The Rose of Persia

Brownlow then travelled to Australia to work for J. C. Williamson, appearing in the 1894 production of Ma mie Rosette, with Nellie Stewart[5] and in an 1895 revival of H.M.S. Pinafore in Sydney. In 1900, he appeared in both Sydney and Melbourne in H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, Iolanthe, and The Gondoliers as Giuseppe. In 1900 he also played The Sultan in Arthur Sullivan's The Rose of Persia and played Abercoed in Florodora.[6] He also played the title role in The Mikado[3] and in A Trip to Chinatown.[7] In 1902, Brownlow was injured by falling through a door and recovered substantial damages.[8]

Brownlow's alcoholism contributed to his failure in a venture managing a hotel in Western Australia. Stewart wrote in her memoirs[9] of Brownlow's great success with Australian audiences, the "ease and grace and dash" that he brought to his roles, his huge popularity with the women who pursued him, and of his weakness for alcohol that led to his unhappy end.

Brownlow then went to the United States, where he appeared in several Broadway productions of comic operas, including Love's Lottery in 1904, appearing as Sergeant Bob Trivet,[10] Girofle-Girsofla from January to February 1905, and in Boccaccio in March 1905.[11] Later, theatrical manager Hugh McIntosh found Brownlow in California, where he had gone to act in silent films,[12] including the 1913 movie The Hoyden's Awakening, now living in dereliction, and brought him back to Australia under contract, but he soon "lapsed into his old habit."[11]

While living in Australia, Brownlow wrote the lyrics for several songs, including those to the ballad "Without Thy Love", the music to which was written by fellow D'Oyly Carte artiste Charles Kenningham.[5]

Brownlow died in Melbourne, Australia in September 1919.


  1. ^ 1891 Census PRO RG12/219
  2. ^ 1871 Census PRO RG10/625
  3. ^ a b Ayre, Leslie (1972). The Gilbert & Sullivan Companion. London: W.H. Allen & Co Ltd. p. 54. 
  4. ^ William Davenport Adams (1904). A Dictionary of the Drama. Chatto & Windus. 
  5. ^ a b Information from Music Australia
  6. ^ Lamb, Andrew (2002). Leslie Stuart. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-93747-7. 
  7. ^ Hawera & Normanby Star, Volume XXXVX, Issue 5088, 15 January 1900, Page 2
  8. ^ Hawera & Normanby Star, Volume XLII, Issue 7422, 27 March 1902, Page 3
  9. ^ Nellie Stewart, "My Life's Story," John Sands, Sydney, (1923)
  10. ^ Information about Brownlow in Love's Lottery
  11. ^ a b Information from the WhoWasWho in the D'Oyly Carte website
  12. ^ Wallace Brownlow at the Internet Movie Database

External links[edit]