Crampton, Victoire (DNB00)

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CRAMPTON, VICTOIRE, Lady (1837–1871), singer, second daughter of Michael William Balfe [q. v.], was born in the Rue de la Victoire, Paris, 1 Sept. 1837, and evincing a passionate taste for music, even when a child, received early and able instruction in that science. She entered the Conservatoire de Musique while very young, and studied the pianoforte for about two years. She was then removed to London and placed under the care of Sterndale Bennett. In the meanwhile her father watched and carefully trained her voice. Her vocal studies were at first entirely superintended by him, but when it appeared that her organ was developing into a pure soprano, in 1853, the assistance of Emmanuel Garcia was secured. In a short time she acquired a perfect mastery over her voice, and a visit to Italy and a series of practising lessons from Signor Busti and Signor Celli completed her education. When eighteen years of age she again studied in Italy, and afterwards returning to London, made her appearance under Frederick Gye's management at the Lyceum Theatre on 28 May 1857. Her character was Amina in ‘Sonnambula,’ and a more successful début could scarcely be imagined. Her voice proved to be a high soprano, fresh and pure in quality, ranging from low C to C in alt, and remarkable for its great flexibility and even sweetness throughout. Her next rôle was that of Lucia in Donizetti's opera on 21 July, when the audience were charmed with her exertions, and recalled her many times. At the conclusion of the season she proceeded to Dublin, then to Birmingham, and afterwards to Italy. At Turin in 1858 she achieved a brilliant success, and added the part of Zerlina in ‘Don Giovanni’ to her répertoire. On coming back to England she commenced an engagement under E. T. Smith at Drury Lane on 25 April 1859, and appeared during the season as Amina, Lucia, and Zerlina. Her singing, however, was not so effective as before, her physical powers were limited, as they had not improved by her practice in Italy and elsewhere, and her vocalisation was heard to less advantage in Drury Lane than it had been in the smaller area of the Lyceum. She played the rôle of Arline in her father's opera of ‘La Zingara’ (‘The Bohemian Girl’) for his benefit in July 1859. On 31 March 1860, while fulfilling an engagement in St. Petersburg, she was married to Sir John Fiennes Twisleton Crampton, bart. [q. v.], the British envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary at the court of Russia, but this marriage was annulled on her petition on 20 Nov. 1863 (Times, 21 Nov. 1863, p. 11, col. 2). She married secondly in 1864 the Duc de Frias. She died at Madrid 22 Jan. 1871, and was buried in Burgos Cathedral. She left three children.

[Drawing-room Portrait Gallery (3rd ser., 1860), with portrait; Illustrated News of the World, 28 May 1859, pp. 323, 328, with portrait; Illustrated London News, 25 July 1857, p. 90, and 1 Aug., p. 115, with portrait; Kenney's Memoir of M. W. Balfe (1875), pp. 249, 259–62.]

G. C. B.