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Amy Castles
, c.1899

by Falk Studios

albumen silver photograph on cardboard (Paris Panel) (sheet: 25.0 cm x 17.4 cm, image: 20.0 cm x 14.0 cm)

Amy Castles (1880–1951), soprano, was born into a musical family in Melbourne and made her professional debut there in March 1899. She then set about raising enough money to study abroad and, with £4000 behind her, left Australia in September the same year. In Paris, she became yet another of the Australians taught by Madame Mathilde Marchesi, but left her to study with Jacques Bouhy. She made her London debut (alongside compatriot Ada Crossley) in November 1901 and then returned to Australia under contract to JC Williamson & Co. Castles performed regularly in Britain and Europe throughout the first decade of the century, touring Australia again for J&N Tait in 1909 before, in 1912, being offered a contract with the Imperial Opera in Vienna. She was forced to return to Australia on the outbreak of war; and in 1917 went to the United States, remaining there for two years during which period she appeared at Carnegie Hall and gave concerts for convalescent and returned servicemen. She returned to Australia permanently in 1919 after two years working in the USA. Castles had largely retired from signing by the 1930s; she died in Melbourne in 1951.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased with funds provided by Jim and Barbara Higgins 2012
Accession number: 2012.210