Opera Scotland

Signor Foli Suggest updates

Allan James Foley

Born Cahir, Tipperary, 7 August 1835.

Died Southport, 20 October 1899.

Irish bass.

Many singers from the English-speaking world found their careers could be advanced by the adoption of a foreign-sounding stage name. Signor Foli was one of the most notable of these.

Early years

Foley grew up in the United States before studying in Naples. There he adopted the familiar Italian form of his name before making his debut at Catania in 1862 as Elmiro in Otello (the Rossini version). He continued to work in Italy for the next three years. While on a trip to the Théãtre Italien in Paris he was heard by Mapleson.

An international career

Returning to Britain in 1865, Foli made his first appearance at Her Majesty's in London, his debut role being Saint-Bris in Les Huguenots, which was quickly followed by further small roles. He went on to sing a wide range of parts during the rest of his British career, including Daland in the first British performance of The Flying Dutchman (Drury Lane 1870).

Foli also toured widely within Britain and the USA as a member of Mapleson's company, and also worked in several European centres.

The operatic phase of his career was relatively short, but during the later decades of the nineteenth century Foli remained a popular participant in oratorio performances and the concert parties that then formed a staple of the musical scene.

Roles in Scotland

Celebrity Concert 1866
Sparafucile a professional assassin
Rigoletto 1869
Sarastro High Priest of Isis and Osiris
Zauberflöte 1869
Zauberflöte 1873
Raimondo Bide the Bent, the Ashtons' chaplain
Lucia di Lammermoor 1873
Commendatore an elderly aristocrat
Don Giovanni 1873
Marcel Raoul's servant
Huguenots 1873
Caspar a forester
Freischütz 1873
Balthazar Superior of the Monastery at Compostela
Favorite 1873
Méphistophélès the devil
Faust 1878

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