Adelina Patti - a celeb?
Adelina Patti – a media report
This month’s speaker was Caryl Jones of Ystradgynlais. She explained at the outset that she did not want to give a drawn out history of Adelina Patti in her presentation, since she felt that this was well known. Instead, the illustrated talk concentrated on how Patti was covered in the media of the time in order to show how much of a “superstar”, she was. An evident example was the fact that she could claim the first £1000 of any concert which grossed £1500 in takings and also earned double the annual salary of Lily Langtree.
Turning to the newspapers in the first instance, the speaker was able to show her appeal in that her movements were covered in papers and periodicals in Wales, the UK and even the USA. She was also the subject of scandal, gossip and false rumours (nothing new there then Ed.).
Secondly a series of slides was dedicated to pictures of Adelina Patti. Owing to the crude nature of printing in the nineteenth century, these were rare and also could be classified as prints as against photographs. With the exception of a picture taken of the aging Patti for her Obituary, the singer was viewed as a vibrant even “showbiz and airbrushed”, paragon of operatic perfection.
Much as today’s celebrities, Patti endorsed various commercial products. These ranged from Pears soap, Odontobaph toothpaste, an Ammoniaphone to cure all ills, jewellery, gramophones, Bryant and May matches, Havana Cigars and even Eisteddfod tea.
As today, you should not believe anything in the papers too literally and the large audience were shown false reports as to the death of her second husband the Marquis de Caux which was contradicted in the same paragraph. Another report stated that Patti had been the subject of a leg amputation and also that she planned to build a synagogue at Craig y Nos Castle, despite the fact that she was not Jewish?
Caryl Jones finished her talk in humorous vein by showing three separate reports that the world famous opera star had visited various industrial premise within the space of a few months at Barry Docks. The mystery was solved by the fact that it was actually, recording the activity of the vessel SS Adelina Patti at the port.
Mr Gwyn Thomas gave a vote of thanks and stated that his mother remembered hearing Adelina Patti practising in Craig y Nos , from Banwen on still quiet nights without today’s background noise. He thanked Caryl Jones for a very pleasant evening. Next month’s speaker is BBC’s Pop expert Mr Phil Davies who will speak on another famous Welsh singer, the young Tom Jones.