Skip to main content

Ticketed entry is in place to safely manage your visit so please book ahead. Need to cancel or rejig? Email bookings@npg.gov.au

Menu

The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Opera [Mr William Saurin Lyster] from the series "Masks and Faces", 1874

Tom Durkin and The Weekly Times (publisher)

lithograph on paper (sheet: 33.0 cm x 19.0 cm)

William Saurin Lyster (1828–1880) was an Irish operatic impresario who introduced serious opera to the colonies. Aged about twenty, he joined a theatre company in Boston; he later formed an opera troupe and became the third husband of one of its prima donnas, Georgia Hodson. He brought his company with full chorus and orchestra to Melbourne in March 1861. Initial losses turned to triumphant successes, as they toured a tremendous repertoire through the colonies and New Zealand over the next six years. In August 1868 he took his company for a short, unsuccessful season in San Francisco; having collected singers, scores and stage machinery abroad, he returned to Melbourne in early 1870. As lessee of the Princess’s Theatre he entered into a series of co-operations and collaborations with various visiting groups, alternating English and Italian operas and companies in Adelaide, Melbourne and elsewhere. In 1877 he introduced Wagner to Melbourne with Lohengrin, and lost money on Aida. In failing health, he took an overseas break, but came back to reopen in Melbourne with a new company in March 1879. When he died the following year, at 52, the papers reported ‘Some years ago Mr Lyster was attacked by one of the most terrible diseases to which the constitution of man is subject, and from which there is rarely an escape except into the grave, which has now closed over him.’

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2016

Accession number: 2016.11

Currently not on display

Copyright image request form
Request a digital copy of an image for publication

Artist and subject

Tom Durkin (age 21 in 1874)

The Weekly Times

William Saurin Lyster (age 46 in 1874)

Subject professions

Performing arts

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

A Goldfields Member "The Dove of Ararat" [The Hon. William McLellan M.L.A] from the series "Masks and Faces", 1874 Tom Durkin, The Weekly Times
A Goldfields Member "The Dove of Ararat" [The Hon. William McLellan M.L.A] from the series "Masks and Faces", 1874 Tom Durkin, The Weekly Times
A Goldfields Member "The Dove of Ararat" [The Hon. William McLellan M.L.A] from the series "Masks and Faces", 1874 Tom Durkin, The Weekly Times
A Goldfields Member "The Dove of Ararat" [The Hon. William McLellan M.L.A] from the series "Masks and Faces", 1874 Tom Durkin, The Weekly Times

Showing character

Magazine article by Joanna Gilmour, 2016

Joanna Gilmour on Tom Durkin playing with Melbourne's manhood.

The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery

The Gallery

Explore portraiture and come face to face with Australian identity, history, culture, creativity and diversity.

Plan your visit

Timed ticketing, location, accessibility and amenities

We would like to thank our partners.
© National Portrait Gallery 2020
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196

The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.