Singers and Musical Personalities ~ Elizabeth Inverarity 1813 - 46

1.  Inverarity 1

Elizabeth Inverarity 1813 - 46

1.    Miss Inverarity 1813 - 46, 1832.  Drawn on stone by W. Sharp (1803–1875) after William Booth. From The Musical Gem, London. 1832.    Image in the public domain.


The 1831/32 season at Covent Garden opened in October and the highlight production, in February 1832, was The Fiend Father; or, Robert of Normandy, Rophino Lacy’s English adaptation of Giacomo Meyerbeer’s Robert le Diable. John Braham played Robert and Miss Inverarity Alice. Another successful repertoire addition before her nineteenth birthday was The Marriage of Figaro (as Countess Almaviva).

Charles Kemble’s management at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden was coming under increasing financial strain at this time and by April of the following season the company largely dispersed.

Miss Inverarity spent a time to Glasgow before returning to join her colleagues for a short season at the Olympic Theatre.  A major provincial tour in England and Ireland followed, in the course of which she appeared in Der Freischutz (as Agnes), The Beggar’s Opera (as Polly) and Der Vampyr (as Liska).

During the season 1833/34 the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden and the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane were under the joint management of Alfred Bunn, with artists performing at both theatres as required.  Apart from her appearances in Shakespearean drama, Miss Inverarity sang the rôle of Madame Ankarstrom in Gustavus the Third; or, The Masked Ball. This opera by Daniel Auber, heavily adapted by Thomas Cooke, occupied the stage for almost the entire season to June 1834.

In the following year Mrs Martyn took a maternity break from performance while her husband and sister continued for most of the year at the Theatre Royal, Bristol. The 1837 spring/summer season at the Theatre Royal, Bath by all three was followed by a resumption of their established touring pattern to the end of 1838 when they spent an extended period at the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh, once again joined by John Sinclair.

[Text based on material by Alexander Bisset and other published sources.]

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2.   Mrs Martyn

Elizabeth Martyn (Miss Inverarity) 1813 - 46

2.    Mrs Martyn (Elizabeth Inverarity) 1813 - 46. Stipple engraving by John Henry Robinson (1796–1871) after Alfred Edward Chalon (1780 – 1860).  Published by Longman & Co, 1 October 1840. Chalon's original painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1839. [Image in the public domain.]


In 1830 the Martyns set their sights on America and after a few concert and opera performances by Mrs Martyn in London they sailed on 1 August, 1839, for New York where they, together with a small group of London 'stars', were engaged to appear at the Park Theatre. They made their first appearance on 9 September, 1839, in Beethoven’s Fidelio with Mrs Martyn as Leonora and Martyn as Rocco. It was a brave decision to open with this work which was unknown in America and so different from the usual opening work of Cinderella to which Americans expected from visiting troupes.

The initial New York engagement was followed by tours throughout the Eastern States with further New York visits.  On this tour the repertoire included Cinderella, La Gazza Ladra, La Sonnambula, Fra Diavolo and Der Freischutz. The Martyns were joined by Miss Barbara Inverarity in August 1840 and for the following year the trio toured as a concert group before returning to England to resume their pattern of concert and opera performances.

Physically and vocally exhausted, the Martyns settled in Newcastle upon Tyne where they became teachers of music in that city and in surrounding areas. A third child was born in 1844.

While the career of Miss Inverarity/Mrs Martyn was not one of sustained brilliance from the heady, early days it was not untypical for the period.  Early exploitation gave her a name and considerable status within the theatre of her time but did her vocal instrument no favours and surely led to an abbreviated career and an early death. She died on 27 December 1846 in Newcastle, aged 33 years and was buried in Jesmond Old Cemetery in the same plot as her sister Barbara who predeceased her, aged 31, on 19 October 1845.

[Text based on material by Alexander Bisset and other published sources.]

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Inverarity Anecdotes

Inverarity as Cinderella ~ At Covent Garden ~ Music of the Theatres  ~  Seventh Philharmonic Concert

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