Santley, Charles



Celebrated barytone singer, known throughout the British empire as " The grand old man of song." He was born in Liverpool, and was the son of William Santley, a teacher of piano and singing. As a boy Santley was a chorister in several of the Liverpool churches and was given a good musical education. His father, however, intended music to be merely a pastime and had his son trained for business. This was so distasteful to the boy that he saved enough money to go to Italy, where he placed himself under the instruction of Gaetano Nava in 1855, at Milan, later studying with Hallah and Manuel Garcia in London. His first appearance in opera was in a minor part in La Traviata in Italy. His real debut took place in London in 1857, when he sang Adam in The Creation; but his first real success came two years later when he sang the role of Hoel in Meyerbeer's Dinorah, also in London. He made his advent in Italian Opera, in 1862 at Covent Garden and later in that season was heard at Her Majesty's Theatre. Santley sang at the Worcester, Leeds and Birmingham Festivals from 1861 to 1891; at the Handel Festival at Crystal Palace in 1862 and at the festival of the Three Choirs from 1863 to 1894, with few intermissions. For fifty years he has been before the public and his career in opera has been almost as remarkable as in oratorio. He has appeared in Zampa, in Falstaff, in II Trovatore and in Mozart's Marriage of Figaro, beside many other operas. The singer visited America in 1871, Australia in 1889 and 1890, South Africa in 1893, and in 1891 he again visited e this country. Santley is gifted in divers ways. He adapted Joconde to the English stage, is a painter of more than ordinary ability, and beside composing has edited his teacher, Nava's, Method of Instruction for a barytone voice. He has also written a vocal method, and in 1907 published a collection of autobiographical sketches, entitled Student and Singer. His compositions include a mass in A flat; an Ave Maria and other sacred music; a berceuse for orchestra; madrigal; songs; and other music, most of which he published under the pen-name of Ralph Betterton. For many years since he has withdrawn from opera and oratorio he has been heard frequently in recitals in London and in all the principal English towns. He was made an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Music and in 1887 Pope Leo XIII. created him a knight commander of St. Gregory the Great, and he was recently knighted by King Edward VII., of England.