Joseph O'Mara, the opera singer,
Limerick, left 1880.
At about age 18 (i.e. 1882), largely through influence of schoolfriends, he thought he had a fancy for the sea. His father said: "Go ahead my boy; the sooner you go, the sooner you come back." He went to sea for 12 months. He returned "having seen as much as I wanted to in that time." [Crescent College profile].
He sang in St.Michael's Church choir, Denmark St, Limerick (near his home).
Opera career begins: He went to Italy to study opera. He studied opera in Milan under Signor Moretti, 1889-1891.
For 3 years he was chief tenor at
Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, near Covent Garden.
He was in pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk, in Drury Lane.
In 1894 he had his first appearance as tenor in Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in Grand Opera. Chief tenor there also.
He starred as Lohengrin (the leading role, and leading Tenor role) in Wagner's "Lohengrin", with Sir Augustus Harris' Company, 1894-95.
He sang in Grand Opera in Liverpool. He was in pantomime, Aladdin, in the Prince of Wales, Liverpool.
He is listed as "musical artist", living London, at mar.
Britain, the US, Ireland.
He sang at the Hollis Street Theatre in Boston in Oct 1897.
He is not listed at his father's funeral in 1899. He was probably abroad.
At one event he sang at in London, he was introduced to the Prince of Wales.
He sang for Carl Rosa Opera Company.
A recording of him survives from 1901.
He performed Maritana with the Moody-Manners Company in London, 1902. Leading tenor with them 1902-1908.
He starred as Don Jose (the hero and the leading Tenor role) when in 1903 the Moody-Manners Company performed "Carmen" at the Queen's Theatre, Holbeck, Leeds.
He starred as Romeo (the hero and the leading Tenor role) in Charles Gounod's "Romeo et Juliette".
He starred as Lieutenant Pinkerton (the villain and the leading Tenor role) in Puccini's "Madame Butterfly", 1904 or later.
He starred as Tannhauser (the leading role, and leading Tenor role) in Wagner's "Tannhauser".
Other operas he sang in included "Faust" and "The Jewess" and "Aida" and "Tosca".
Letter of July 1908 from Patricia O'Mara on holiday in Kilkee, Co.Clare, says: "Eileen, Nora, Aunt Bride, Uncle Joe and the others are staying at Cliff Cottage."
In around Nov 1908 he was singing in New York, to great acclaim.
In 1909 he joined the Thomas Beecham Company in Britain. He sang with them at Covent Garden 1910.
His brother Stephen left Hartstonge House c.1909, definitely gone by 1910.
Plaque on Hartstonge House says Joseph lived at Hartstonge House at one time, but this may be wrong.
Cannot find the family in Ireland in 1911 census.
O'Mara Opera Company, 1912:
He founded O'Mara's Travelling Opera Company (or the O'Mara Opera Company Ltd) 1912. He was Managing Director and leading singer. He toured with them until 1926.
See poster advertising The O'Mara Grand Opera in May 1913. From here. Original from NLI.
He gave a free concert in Limerick 1916. See Drama and Variety in [McMahon and Flynn, 1996].
See O'Mara Opera Company programme, Theatre Royal, Limerick, 28 Jan 1918. Joseph himself is performing as the lead tenor, Rudolph, in "La Boheme" by Puccini.
His company performed "La Boheme" and "Madame Butterfly" at the Theatre Royal, Leeds, 1918.
Lived 43 Raglan Rd, Pembroke, Dublin. Listed there in [Thom's, 1919, p.1851]. Was not there in [Thom's, 1914, p.1829].
Living 43 Raglan Rd at dau Eileen's mar 1919.
His company performed Verdi's "Rigoletto" at the Theatre Royal, Leeds, 1921. See poster formerly here.
He sang in Australia.
He sponsored an annual "O'Mara Cup" at the Feis Ceoil.
Biography in [Thom's Irish Who's Who, 1923] lists him as living 6 Adelphi Terrace, London, W.C. (right in the heart, see map).
He was living "Glenmore", 14 Ailesbury Park, off Merrion Rd, Dublin, at dau's death 1925 and registration of death in 1926.
Start of Irish radio, 1926:
He sang on the first day Irish radio started, 1 Jan 1926. He sang "The Bard of Armagh". His brother Stephen (who died later that year) ordered the finest new radio from America so that a gathering of relatives and friends in Limerick could hear him.
He retired Mar 1926 [obituary]. He played "Lohengrin" again for his farewell performance when he retired.
His last public appearance was at concerts to celebrate 700 years of Dominicans in Limerick, Mar 1927 [Riordan, 1992].
Joseph dies, 1927:
He died 5 Aug 1927, at his house, "Glenmore", 14 Ailesbury Park, Dublin, age 63 yrs [GROI].
Oddly, he is simply listed as "Company Manager" on death cert.
See death notice, Irish Times, Saturday, August 6, 1927.
See obituary in Irish Times, Saturday, August 6, 1927.
Limerick city flag flew at half mast at the town hall. See item (and header) in Irish Times, Monday, August 8, 1927.
Funeral Mon 8 Aug 1927. He was bur Glasnevin Cemetery.
Private funeral. Messages of sympathy received from President W.T. Cosgrave and Bryan Cooper TD.
See funeral report in Irish Times, Tuesday, August 9, 1927.
See obituary in Irish Times, Saturday, August 13, 1927, p.4 and p.3.
The O'Mara Opera Company continued productions until 1934.
Bride dies, 1935:
Bride is listed with address 18 Ailesbury Rd, Dublin, in her grave record.
She died 11 Sept 1935, "Verdella", Church Rd, Greystones, Co.Wicklow, age 62 yrs [GROI].
See death notice in Irish Independent, September 13, 1935.
Funeral 13 Sept, bur Glasnevin Cemetery.
See funeral report (and header) in Irish Independent, Saturday, September 14, 1935.
Joseph and Bride had issue:
"If there is any Irish Man, or Woman, in New York who was born in Ireland or whose ancestors were Irish,
or who ever was in Ireland, that man or woman ought to go to Broadway Theatre, see and listen to Mr. O'Mara's presentation of
Patrick Bidwell's new romantic musical comedy 'Peggy Machree'".
- The New York Herald, around Nov 1908. Quoted in [Potterton, 1970].
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