Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Rainforth, Elizabeth

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RAINFORTH, ELIZABETH (1814–1877), vocalist, daughter of S. Rainforth, a custom-house officer, was a pupil of T. Cooke, Crivelli, and George Perry, and subsequently, for dramatic action, of Mrs. Davison. She first sang in public at the vocal concerts, 29 Feb. 1836, when she sang an aria from ‘Der Freischütz’ (cf. Spectator, 1836, p. 223). Her success was so pronounced as to lead to an immediate engagement for the succeeding concert in March. On 27 Oct. in the same year Miss Rainforth made her stage début as Mandane in Arne's ‘Artaxerxes’ at the St. James's Theatre, and for many seasons she was a popular dramatic singer at this theatre, the English Opera House, Covent Garden, and Drury Lane. At the same time her services as a concert-singer were in great demand. In 1837 she appeared in oratorio under the auspices of the Sacred Harmonic Society; on 18 March 1839 she sang at the Philharmonic concerts; and in 1840 at the Concerts of Ancient Music. In 1836 and 1842 she was a principal singer at the Norwich Festival (cf. Musical World, 1836, p. 43). In 1843 and 1845 her success at the Birmingham and Worcester festivals was no less emphatic; in 1844 she was performing in Dublin. On 27 Nov. 1843 she created the rôle of Arline in Balfe's ‘Bohemian Girl.’ From 1852 to 1856 she lived in Edinburgh, and she practically retired from public life in 1859. Until 1871 she taught singing at Windsor. In 1871 she withdrew to Chatterton Villa, Redland, near Bristol, where she died 22 Sept. 1877. Miss Rainforth was an admirable singer, but lacked sufficient power to place her in the foremost rank of great sopranos.

[Authorities quoted in the text; Musical World, 1877, p. 653; Spectator, 1843, p. 1136; Athenæum, 1836, p. 179; Grove's Dict. of Music and Musicians; Philharmonic Society's lists.]

R. H. L.