Eaton Operatic Society
Eaton Operatic Society (Eaton Choral Society 1919-31). Toronto light opera group. It was founded in 1919 as a choir by employees of the T. Eaton Co department store (with a subsidy from the company) and gave its first concert 4 Feb 1920. Herbert M.
Eaton Operatic Society (Eaton Choral Society 1919-31). Toronto light opera group. It was founded in 1919 as a choir by employees of the T. Eaton Co department store (with a subsidy from the company) and gave its first concert 4 Feb 1920. Herbert M. Fletcher, its first conductor, was succeeded in 1925 by T.J. Crawford. It gave annual concerts in Massey Hall with orchestra and soloists, including the harpist Carlos Salzedo in 1923, the singers Arthur Blight, Elizabeth Campbell, Jeanne Dusseau, and Alfred Heather in 1927, and Paul Althouse, Poul Bai, and Frank Oldfield in 1929. The membership had grown to 200 singers by that time. Following a change of policy in 1931 the society began to cultivate operetta. Gilbert & Sullivan's Iolanthe was its first production, 2 and 3 Mar 1932 at Eaton Auditorium, and other operettas were offered there each spring until 1965. Productions were taken to other communities in southern Ontario - Brantford, Hamilton, Kitchener, Lindsay, Peterborough, and St Catharines - and to other halls and theatres in Toronto. During World War II the society visited Ontario army bases. It presented only Gilbert & Sullivan until 1946, when Leslie Stuart's Florodora was performed. Several works were given repeat performances, including Iolanthe (1932, 1938, 1950), The Gondoliers (1933, 1939, 1948, 1954), The Mikado (1934, 1940, 1949), The Yeoman of the Guard (1935, 1941, 1952), and The Pirates of Penzance (1936, 1942, 1953). After 1954 the society turned exclusively to musicals, including The Vagabond King (1957, 1965) and Rose Marie (1959). Among the featured performers were George Aldcroft, Norman Cherrie, Leslie Mackey, Elizabeth Mawson, Howard Mawson, Helen Murray, and Robert Reid. In 1945 Lois Marshall, then an Eaton employee, was understudy to the lead in Princess Ida and performed in the production on 14 March. The society's music directors were T.J. Crawford until 1947, Harry Norris (listed as conductor) in 1948, Godfrey Ridout 1949-58, Lloyd Bradshaw 1959-61, and Horace Lapp 1962-5. The orchestra included members of the TSO.