Lithgow James (1879-80, 1882-83, 1883)

[Born c.1845, died Barnard Castle, Co. Durham, England 27 Feb 1900]

After an adventurous tour of France during the Franco-German War (1870-71), in which he was reportedly arrested as a German spy and saved a boy from drowning at Havre, Lithgow James traveled to America in the early 1870s, where he toured his own opera company.

Back in England, he joined D'Oyly Carte's "Second London" Company, touring as Captain Corcoran in H.M.S. Pinafore from November 1879 to February 1880, and also filling in for a time in December 1879 as Mr. Liverby in the Frank Desprez & Alfred Cellier curtain raiser In the Sulks.From March to July 1880 he toured with Carte's "D" Company as Captain Corcoran and Doctor Daly in The Sorcerer.He then left the D'Oyly Carte organization and returned to America.

There James toured with Emma Abbott's English Opera Company (1880-81), his favorite role with her being Don Jose in Maritana.After a stint with the Audran Opera Company, he returned to Gilbert & Sullivan, though not D'Oyly Carte, as Colonel Calverly in Patience, first on tour with the Comley-Barton Company (Alfred Cellier conducting) in December 1881 and January 1882, and then at Haverly's Fourteen Street Theatre and on tour in February 1882.

He was at Haverly's again in the fall of 1882 with the Norcross Opera Company in The Merry War, before rejoining the D'Oyly Carte as Private Willis for the American premiere ofIolanthe at New York's Standard Theatre on November 25, 1882 (the same day as the London premiere at the Savoy).He played Private Willis for the duration of the run, ending February 24, 1883.

In April and May 1883 James appeared at the Cosmopolitan Theatre, New York, in a revival of Fortunio.He then returned to the British Isles for his third and final D'Oyly Carte engagement, as Captain Corcoran and the Pirate King with Carte's "Pinafore" and "Pirates" Company from June to August 1883.

Lithgow James returned to America on at least one subsequent occasion, appearing in concert in Brooklyn in 1887.He retired from the stage shortly thereafter, but sang in church until a few weeks before his death.

He was married for a time to former D'Oyly Carte soprano Florence St. John.

Page created October 24, 2002 © 2002 David Stone