The Moody-Manners Opera Company

2.  Moody
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3.  Willis
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4. Bohemian Girl
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5.   Iolanthe


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Manners

1.   Charles Manners (Southcote Randal Bernard Campbell Mansergh), 1857 - 1935, husband of Fanny Moody and founder of the touring company

Date : ca1900
Photographer: Ellis & Walery, scanned from the 1914 edition of Cellier & Bridgeman's Gilbert and Sullivan and Their Operas.


2.   Fanny Moody as Marguerite in Gounod's 'Faust'.

Date : ca 1890
Photographer: Unknown


3.   Charles Manners as Sergeant Willis in Gilbert and Sullivan's 'Iolanthe'.

Date : 1882
Photographer: Unknown


4.   Fanny Moody as Arline in 'The Bohemian Girl'

Date : ca1890
Photographer: Unknown.  Reproduced from a composite image in the Opera Archive


5.   Charles Manners as Sergeant Willis and Alice Barnett in Gilbert and Sullivan's 'Iolanthe'.

Date : 1882
Photographer: Unknown.  Image in the public domain.  Reproduced from Mander, Raymond and Joe Mitchenson. A Picture History of Gilbert and Sullivan, Vista Books, London, 1962, p. 66




The Moody-Manners Opera Company

The Moody-Manners company began with a tour starting from Longton, a small town in the Potteries. The partnership stemmed from the Carl Rosa Company and the group's history can be traced to the marriage of Fanny Moody and Southcote Mansergh, better known as Charles Manners, in 1890.

Fanny Moody was born at Redruth in Cornwall in 1866, and came of a highly musical family. Her operatic career was the result of an introduction to Lady Morel! Mackenzie, wife of the fashionable throat specialist, who later introduced her to Carl Rosa.  After an audition with Rosa, she joined his company on very favourable terms.

Her debut under Rosa's management was at the Court Theatre, Liverpool, as Arline in 'The Bohemian Girl'. Later came a Drury Lane Season, followed by a provincial tour including Dublin, where she received an ovation from the students of Trinity.  In May, 1890 Rosa's Company finished another season at Drury Lane in which Fanny added to her reputation. Then came the wedding and a honeymoon in Italy, followed by a profitable concert tour and a visit with Charles to America. An extensive tour in South Africa followed.

In 1898, back in London, Manners formed the Moody-Manners Opera Company with a young chorus, entirely without previous stage experience. Starting with a very small capital acquired through savings and from a few friends, they dropped money at Langton and still more in Manchester. They arrived in Dublin, where Charles intended to close down unless business picked up. However, for 'The Daughter of the Regiment' there was a huge crowd outside the Theatre Royal fighting to get in. The tide had turned. Thenceforward it was all plain sailing. After Cork and Belfast, both moneymakers, the company was promoted to No. 1 towns in the English provinces. As the repertory grew, and the costumes and scenery stock with it—so much so that they built a storage warehouse at Colindale to house the dresses and music, and near it was a vast scenic studio which provided employment all the year round.

When the company was at its zenith they staged over fifty operas.   By this time the company numbered 175, and travelled by special train, carrying their own scenery and costumes in ten 45-ft. trucks. They were known as 'The Sunday School on Tour' as the choristers, male and female, were not allowed to mix, nor were the principals permitted to fraternise with the chorus. The chorus gentlemen were in the front coaches, principals in the middle and chorus ladies in the rear.

Later, a 'B' Company of 95 which visited the small towns was formed. They called it 'The Nursery'.   Despite their success in the early years of the 20th century, the company did not survive the first World Ward, closing down in 1916.

[Text based, in part, on the Opera Archive, The Irish Times  and other material in the public domain.]