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CLARA DOW
(1883 - 1969)

Clara Dow sang principal soprano roles from 1907 to 1914, and was one of the last links with Gilbert himself. This enabled her to carry out many of his own instructions, right up into the 1960s, when she produced operas for amateur societies.

Her own story of how she was picked by Gilbert from the chorus related how a singer from the Carl Rosa Company was playing Elsie at a rehearsal of "The Yeomen of the Guard". She had a beautiful voice but poor diction. According to Miss Dow, Gilbert mumbled "I didn't sit up all night for my words to be distorted by this damned Italian method!", and the result was that the lady was reduced to tears and ran off stage. Miss Dow's name was called out and she continued the solo without a break. She took over the part of Elsie, and later played Gianetta and other leading parts.

Clara Dow, born in King's Lynn, was with the company from 1906 to 1909, again in 1911, and from 1913 to 1914. During this time she played the parts of Josephine, Mabel, Patience, Phyllis, Princess Ida, Yum-Yum, Elsie Maynard, Kate (Yeomen), Giulia, Casilda and Gianetta.

She died in an Epsom Nursing Home on 26th March 1969 at the age of 83.

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