Parepa-Rosa, Euphrosyne Parepa de Boyesku (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 43
Parepa-Rosa, Euphrosyne Parepa de Boyesku

by Robin Humphrey Legge

PAREPA-ROSA, EUPHROSYNE PAREPA DE BOYESKU (1836–1874), operatic singer, born at Edinburgh on 7 May 1836, was daughter of the Baron Georgiades de Boyesku, a Wallachian noble. Her mother, Elizabeth Seguin (1815–1870), was sister to Edward Seguin [q. v.], a bass vocalist, and was daughter of an official of the king's theatre, resident in Regent Street (Athenæum, 24 Jan. 1874). On the death of her father, about 1836, her mother took to the stage to support herself and her child (cf. Era, 25 Jan. 1874; Annual Register, 1874, p. 140).

Euphrosyne was instructed in languages and in singing by her mother, and soon learnt to speak English, Italian, French, German, and Spanish with fluency. In 1855 she made a highly promising début in opera as Amina in ‘La Sonnambula’ at Malta. She afterwards appeared at Naples, Rome, Florence, Genoa, Madrid, and Lisbon. At Lisbon she was received with every mark of favour by court and public. King Ferdinand was so impressed with her attainments as to give her a letter of introduction to the prince consort. The young artist was put to the test by the prince consort in person, and she was promptly commanded to sing before the court at Osborne.

Her first appearance in opera in England took place on 21 May 1857, when she sang the part of Elvira in ‘I Puritani’ at the Lyceum Theatre, during the temporary occupation of that house by the Royal Italian Opera Company after the burning of Covent Garden Theatre (5 March 1856). In August of the following year she played Camille in ‘Zampa’ after the reopening of Covent Garden, and for several years she continued to sing with success at that theatre and at Her Majesty's, her ‘creations’ including the title-part of Mellon's ‘Victorine’ (1859), La Reine Topaze in Massé's opera of that name (1860), and Mabel in Macfarren's ‘Helvellyn’ (1864, Covent Garden) [see Macfarren, Sir George Alexander]. She also appeared at the Philharmonic concerts in 1860, and at the Handel festivals of 1862 and 1865. About the beginning of 1864 Mademoiselle Parepa married a captain in the British army, named Henry de Wolfe Carvell, who died sixteen months later (26 April 1865) at Lima, Peru ({Grove, Dict. of Music, ii. 694a). In 1866 she made a professional tour through America under the direction of Maurice Strakosch and Bateman (ib. iii. 734b), and there met Carl Rosa [q. v.], to whom she was married in New York on 26 Feb. 1867. Shortly afterwards the Parepa-Rosa English Opera Company was formed and remained a conspicuous feature in American musical life for the next few years, and its promoters made a considerable fortune (Musical Times, 1 June 1889, p. 348).

The spring and summer of 1871 Carl Rosa and his wife spent in England. In 1872 Madame Parepa-Rosa made her last appearance in London during the Covent Garden season, when she was heard on three occasions as Donna Anna and Norma (Athenæum, 24 Jan. 1874), and at the Philharmonic, where she sang ‘Ah! perfido!’ The winter of 1872–3 was passed in Cairo, where, at the Grand Opera, she played in ‘Ruy Blas’ on 11 Feb. 1873, and on 25 March in that year a great benefit performance was given at Cairo in her honour. Later in the year she was in England, rehearsing the part of Elsa in an English version of ‘Lohengrin,’ which her husband had arranged to produce at Drury Lane in March 1874. But before the performance took place she died at 10 Warwick Crescent, Maida Vale, on 21 Jan. 1874. She was buried at Highgate cemetery on 26 Jan.

Madame Parepa-Rosa had a fine, sympathetic soprano voice of two and a half octaves in range, and an admirable stage presence. She seems to have achieved greater success on the concert platform than on the stage.

A ‘Parepa-Rosa’ scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music was endowed by Carl Rosa in memory of his wife in 1874.

[Musical World, 1873 pp. 113–265, 1874 pp. 50, 54, 70, &c.; Arcadian, March 1874; Times, 23 Jan. 1874.]

R. H. L.