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Frances Saville
, 1903

by Reutlinger Studios

gelatin silver photograph (support: 16.4 cm x 11.6 cm, sheet: 14.3 cm x 10.5 cm)

Frances Saville (1865–1935), soprano, was born Fanny Simonsen in San Francisco and came to Australia as a child, her parents being the owners of the touring Simonsen Opera Company. She studied singing with her mother, an accomplished soprano, and made her professional debut, aged seventeen, in 1882. She married a businessman named Max Rown in 1888, around which time she was also working as a singing teacher in Sydney. Having performed in productions there and in Melbourne, she left in 1891 to study with Madame Mathilde Marchesi in Paris. She made her international debut in Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet in Brussels in September 1892, receiving a message of congratulations from Nellie Melba. In 1895, having performed extensively in Europe and the UK, she went to New York for the first of two seasons with the Metropolitan Opera. Her marriage to Rown, who became her manager, ended in divorce in 1896. She joined the Vienna Court Opera in 1898 and performed with the company for five years until her deteriorating relationship with its director, Gustav Mahler, resulted in her retirement. She left Austria on the outbreak of World War 1 and briefly returned to Australia. She died in California in 1935.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2007
Accession number: 2007.15