January 17, 1849 (Wednesday)

Just come home from hearing that exceedingly popular singer, Madame Anna Bishop. Oh, she is a delightful singer, charming!  In my humble opinion she is superior to Madame Laborde who has created such a sensation recently.

Lithograph of Anna Bishop by C. Currier (New York, 1847)

Anna Riviere Bishop (1810–1884) was an English-born soprano who first appeared at the Walnut Street Theatre (see entry for January 8 ) on November 22, 1847 in the title role of Bellini’s Norma.  Madame Bishop married her teacher, Henry Bishop, in 1831 but in 1839, ran away with the famous French harpist, Bochsa. The pair toured constantly throughout Europe and North America.  After Bochsa’s death in 1856, Madame Bishop, the most widely traveled singer in the 19th century, toured the world, furthering the popularity of Italian opera wherever she went.  Her voice was often compared to a flute and she was known for her beauty and for her elaborate costumes. [source: PictureHistory http://www.picturehistory.com/product/id/21103%5D

Anna Bishop performed in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1862, 1870 and 1871. For a listing of items concerning Anna Bishop in the AAS collections, click here.

Rosine Laborde (1824–1907) was a noted French soprano and later an accomplished voice teacher whose pupils included contralto Marie Delna and soprano Emma Calvé. Madame Laborde was in direct competition, at least in the eyes of the public, with Anna Bishop.  In addition to both being very popular sopranos singing in the French style, they sang a similar repertoire, each being noted for her performance of Norma. Each was very accomplished in comedic roles as well.  The musical editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book had this to say about Madame Laborde in January 1849, “Her voice is a very pure soprano, and she manages it with exquisite skill. Her trills and cadences remind us more of the warblings of a bird than anything we have ever heard. She is a finished actress, and so delights us with her French naivete that we almost forget she is not a handsome woman. Were her face as beautiful as her voice, she would soon turn the heads of the whole community. We regret that we cannot see Madame Bishop with this troupe.”  No doubt, Nathan, who had seen Madame Laborde on January 4th, was taken with Anna Bishop’s beauty as well.

Philadelphia Inquirer -- 16 Jan 1849

from the Philadelphia Inquirer, January 16, 1849, page 3, col. 4.

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