Pearman, William (DNB00)

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PEARMAN, WILLIAM (fl. 1810–1824), vocalist, born at Manchester in 1792, entered the navy when a boy, but, being wounded in the leg before Copenhagen, retired with a pension from the service. He then made some unsatisfactory attempts to become an actor, appearing at Tooting, Surrey, at the Sans Pareil Theatre in the Strand, and with Macready's company at Newcastle. He at last achieved some measure of success as a singer of Dibdin's nautical songs at Sadler's Wells. John Addison (1766?–1844) [q. v.] gave him lessons, and enabled him to take leading singing parts in provincial theatres, while Macready again engaged him for musical drama at Newcastle.

On 7 July 1817 Pearman made his début at the English Opera House as Orlando in the ‘Cabinet,’ and he leaped into public favour. Of other impersonations in a similar vein of light opera, his Captain Macheath was especially good; he was said to be impressive in the prison scene, and, in short, the best Macheath on the stage. In 1819 Pearman was retained at Drury Lane for secondary parts, and in 1822 at Covent Garden; but his voice and style were ineffective in a large house. His best effort here was said to be the imitative song, in ‘Clari,’ composed for him by Bishop, ‘Ne'er shall I forget the day.’ In September 1824 he distinguished himself as Rodolph in ‘Der Freischütz’ at the English Opera House.

Pearman's natural voice, soft or veiled in tone (Oxberry describes it as smothered), did not reach beyond E, although he could force a G. His falsetto was sweet when audible. It was not possible for him to sing many tenor songs in their original key. He was a small man, well proportioned, and so easy and graceful that his lameness was scarcely perceived. A portrait of Pearman as Leander in ‘The Padlock,’ drawn by De Wilde and engraved by J. Rogers, was published by Oxberry.

[Oxberry's Dramatic Biography, i. 143; Georgian Era, iv. 521; Brown's Dictionary of Musicians, p. 465; Harmonicon, October 1824.]

L. M. M.