Elsie Griffin

Elsie Griffin

in 1923.

Life and career

Elsie Griffin was born in Bristol, England. She made her debut during World War I with Lena Ashwell's Company, formed at the request of King George V singing concerts to entertain Britain's troops in France. The lyricist Frederick Weatherly, impressed by the beauty of her voice, brought her two of his songs, "Danny Boy" (to the traditional "A Londonderry Air") and "Roses of Picardy" (music by Haydn Wood), and she made them into two of the most popular hits of the era.

Griffin joined the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company in 1919, immediately appearing on tour as Josephine in "H.M.S. Pinafore", Kate in "The Yeomen of the Guard", and Gianetta in "The Gondoliers". She soon added (sometimes sharing) the roles of Aline in "The Sorcerer", Mabel in "The Pirates of Penzance", Lady Ella in "Patience", and Phyllis in "Iolanthe". In 1921, she added the roles of Yum-Yum in "The Mikado" and Rose Maybud in "Ruddigore". She continued to play or share the principal soprano roles, finally adding to her repertoire Casilda in "The Gondoliers" in 1926. In 1927, she left the company but returned from time to time to participate in recordings.

She appeared briefly in 1929 at the Playhouse Theatre in "The Rose and the Ring", and was a frequent performer in variety, concerts, oratorio, and broadcasting. She toured Britain in "Wild Violets", and South Africa in Gilbert and Sullivan operas and in "Lilac Time" in 1933 with the J. C. Williamson company. From 1934 to 1937 she toured with the Carl Rosa Opera Company singing leading soprano parts in "Die Fledermaus", "The Barber of Seville", "Carmen", "Romeo and Juliet", "The Tales of Hoffman", "Faust", and "The Elixir of Love".

Her last stage appearance was in the Moral Re-Armament musical, "The Vanishing Island", in which she toured around the world with her husband from 1955 until 1957.

Griffin died in Blackheath, Surrey.


Already an established recording artist when she joined the company, Griffin's recordings with D'Oyly Carte included Rose Maybud and Zorah (1924 "Ruddigore"), and Yum-Yum (1926 "The Mikado"). She also sang Yum-Yum in a BBC radio broadcast that year. After she left the company, she was called back to record Mabel (1929 "Pirates"), Kate (1929 "Yeomen"), and Josephine (1930 "Pinafore"). Her 1929 recording of "Poor Wandering One" from the "Pirates" set was voted the best British gramophone solo that year, and when the set was reissued on LP in 1981, a New York Times critic wrote that her "secure coloratura and bell-like purity of tone" made her the definitive Mabel.

In 1926 she appeared as Yum-Yum in a four-minute silent promotional film made of the D'Oyly Carte Mikado.


*cite book|last=Ayre|first=Leslie|year=1972|title=The Gilbert & Sullivan Companion|location=London|publisher=W.H. Allen & Co Ltd Introduction by Martyn Green.

External links

* [http://math.boisestate.edu/gas/whowaswho/G/GriffinElsie.htm Elsie Griffin] at Who Was Who in the D'Oyly Carte
* [http://pinafore.www3.50megs.com/e-griffin.html Profile of Griffin]

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