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The last scene from Masaniello

Date: 1865
Dimensions:
Overall: 173 x 232 mm, 40 g
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Classification:Art
Object Name: Engraving
Object No: 00028542
Place Manufactured:Melbourne

User Terms

    Description
    This engraving featured in The Illustrated Melbourne Post in 1865 depicts the last scene of the play Masaniello, produced by the Lyster Opera Company.
    SignificanceThis engraving illustrates the influential and hugely successful Lyster Opera Company, which toured the Australian colonies during the 1860s - 1870s.
    HistoryDuring the mid 19th century, entertainers from all over the world criss-crossed the Pacific between Australia and the United States. Like the thousands of gold prospectors, these entertainers saw the gold fields as an opportunity to strike it rich - but not by finding gold. They came in response to the demand for entertainment and amusement of the miners. American circuses, theatre and minstrel groups performed to thousands of miners in make shift tents, hotels and halls. Both Sydney and Melbourne developed major theatres which hosted diverse and sophisticated international performances.

    Irish born operatic entrepreneur William Saurin Lyster (1827 - 1880) first came to Australia as a youth in 1842, visiting Sydney and Melbourne on a whaling ship. Around 1848 Lyster went to America and joined a theatre company in Boston. In 1857 Lyster and his brother Frederick formed an opera troupe, and travelled to San Francisco in 1859. With a full chorus and orchestra, in 1861 the company travelled to Melbourne - a prosperous colonial city having recently found gold. On 25 March the company opened at Melbourne's Theatre Royal and within several months it was immensely popular. Lyster made his headquarters in Melbourne and toured the colonies and New Zealand over the next several years.

    In 1868 Lyster and his troupe returned to the United States and arrived in California in the ALEXANDER DUTHIE. However the company was not successful in San Francisco, and so returned to Melbourne in 1870 on the AVOCA. Lyster went on to lease the Princess Theatre and produced a series of Italian operas. By the end of 1874 Lyster was managing opera companies in both South Australia and Victoria, as well as organising visiting artist concerts. Between 1877 and 1879 Lyster travelled to America and Europe. He returned to Melbourne in 1879, however his plans to open a new company never came to fruition - he died on 27 November 1880.

    Additional Titles

    Web title: The last scene from Masaniello

    Primary title: THE LAST SCENE FROM MASANIELLO, PRODUCED BY THE LYSTER OPERA COMPANY. APPEARED IN THE THE ILLUSTRATED MELBOURNE POST.

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