A carte-de-visite portrait of the Irish bass opera singer Allan James Foley (1837-1899), known professionally as ‘Signor Foli.’
Born at Cahir in Tipperary on 7 August 1837, Foley was originally a carpenter. He studied under Bisaccia in Naples and made his first appearance at Catania in 1862. After appearing at the Paris Opera he was engaged by Mapleson for the season of 1865, and made his London debut in Les Huguenots. In accordance with the prevailing preference for Italian artists, he changed the spelling (but not the pronunciation) of his name and was always known as 'Signor Foli.'
He appeared with much success in various parts. He sang the role of Daland in the first performance of Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman in England in 1870, and in the first performance of Gounod's La Rédemption in 1882. He was famous for his Sparafucile in Rigoletto and his Commendatore in Don Giovanni.
His voice was powerful, but of beautiful quality and great compass. He appeared in oratorio at the principal festivals and sang in opera and at concerts in America, Austria and Russia. He was distinguished for his vigorous, straightforward way of singing, and was a great favourite in London for many years. At the Crystal Palace in 1878 (on or soon after Good Friday, 19 April) he became one of the very earliest classical musicians to make a phonograph recording.
He died on 10 October 1899.
Photographed by the London Stereoscopic and Photographic Company.
condition: The print presents a few small black marks and some fine spotting in the area
of the background but is otherwise in excellent condition, with very good tonal range. The
mount is clean and firm, with crisp edges and sharp corners.
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