Seguin, Arthur Edward Shelden (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 51
Seguin, Arthur Edward Shelden

by Robin Humphrey Legge

SEGUIN, ARTHUR EDWARD SHELDEN (1809–1852), bass singer, born in London on 7 April 1809, was educated at the Royal Academy of Music, from which he narrowly escaped dismissal for some youthful breaches of discipline in 1827 (cf. Corder's ‘History of the Royal Academy of Music’ in the Overture, 1891, p. 129). In that year he came into prominence by his fine singing at a students' public concert in the Hanover Square Rooms. His performance of the part of Basilio in Rossini's ‘Barber of Seville’ at the first dramatic performance of the Royal Academy of Music on 8 Dec. 1828 was warmly praised by the press (cf. Morning Post, 9 and 22 Dec. 1828). On 6 Nov. 1830 he took the part of Ismael in Lord Burghersh's opera ‘Catherine,’ Ann Childe (who subsequently became his wife) filling the title-rôle. Early in 1831 he sang Polyphemus in a stage representation of Handel's ‘Acis and Galatea’ at the Queen's Theatre, Tottenham Street, under the management of George Macfarren, the elder [q. v.] In 1832 Seguin was engaged at Drury Lane, where he appeared with Malibran in ‘La Sonnambula,’ and during the two following years, and from 1835 to 1837, he sang at Covent Garden. He made a hit with his performance of Masetto in the revival of Mozart's ‘Don Giovanni’ in February 1833. On 13 Aug. 1838 he created the part of the baron in G. A. Macfarren's ‘Devil's Opera’ at the English Opera House. Immediately afterwards he quitted England for America, where he first appeared as the Count in Rooke's ‘Amelie’ on 15 Oct. at the Old National Theatre, New York. In America he founded an operatic company, ‘The Seguin Troup,’ which met with success in the United States and Canada. Seguin is said to have been elected a chief by an Indian tribe, an honour he shared with Edmund Kean. He died in New York on 9 Dec. 1852. His was described as ‘one of the finest bass voices ever heard’ (Athenæum, 1853, p. 115), and he was an excellent comedian.

His wife, Ann Childe Seguin (1814–1888), born in 1814, whom he married about 1831, was his fellow-pupil, and subsequently a sub-professor at the Royal Academy of Music. Her services as a concert-singer were in considerable demand. She appeared at the King's Theatre, London, in 1836, under Laporte's management. On her husband's death she retired from the stage and devoted herself to teaching music in New York, where she died in August 1888.

[Authorities quoted in the text; Harmonicon, passim; Musical World, 1853, p. 38; Brown's American Stage; Banister's Life of G. A. Macfarren, p. 47.]

R. H. L.