State Library of Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 44 Spring 1989

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Players: Ida Osborne on the Stage — “I Like It Very Much”

Ada Mary Gardner was only 17 years old when, using the stage name of Ida Osborne, she joined the chorus of J. C. Williamson's opera company in Melbourne in 1881. She toured extensively in Australia and New Zealand in Williamson's and other companies, as well as making her name as a concert performer. In 1986 the Library was given a fine collection of Ida Osborne's diaries, scrapbooks and commonplace books. These extracts are from her first diary, around the time of her debut in May, 1881. A few inconsequential sentences have been omitted.
Tuesday 17 May. I went to Madame's for a lesson in the afternoon she told me if I liked to attend the rehearsals for the “Pirates” on approval I could but Mr. Macdonald could not engage anyone till Mr. Williamson comes. I went to the practice at the school.
Wednesday 18. I went up to town to rehearsal & was there till past two from there I went to Madame's to show her my evening dress it will not do so I am going to have a new one. Mother bought some new frocks for the children. I went up to rehearsal at 7 o/c & caught the twenty to eleven train back.
Thursday 19. I went up to rehearsal at half past ten & got on very well. I did not get home till nearly three
Friday 20. Went to rehearsal in the morning we finished about two o/c I went to Madame's & from there to Mrs Norcott's I had tea there & went over to practice at [St Patrick's] Cathedral we had Mr Lineker to sing tenor. Mrs Norcott asked me to go & stay there.
Saturday 21. I went to rehearsal at 10.30. Mr. Williamson arrived he sent several away but will not decide about me till Monday. I went to rehearsal in the evening & slept at Mrs Norcott's.
Sunday 22. I went to the Cathedral in the morning. I did not go out again all day.
Monday 23. I went to rehearsal in the morning. Mr. Williamson decided to engage me. In the afternoon I went down to St Kilda in the afternoon & from there to the theatre but my dress was not ready so I did not go on. Madame was in the stage box.
Tuesday 24. Queen's Birthday. As it was a holiday there was no rehearsal & my dress was not ready again so I did not go on.
Wednesday 25. I went to have my stage dress tried on & from there to see Mr Moroney about the Concert then to St Kilda where I had my Concert dress tried on & then to the Opera House, my dress was ready & I went on to the stage for the first time. I like it very much.
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Thursday 26. I went to the Opera House in the evening & got on all right.
Friday 27. I went to the Opera House in the evening, got home soon after eleven. My dress came home from Mrs. Martin's.
Saturday 28. Milly brought my dress up in the morning I took it to Madame from there Milly & I went to look at a house in Rathdowne St. I took it & paid a weeks rent. In the evening I went to the Opera House, it fills very well.
Sunday 29. I did not go to church all day.
Monday 30… Mother … went to see the house in Carlton but does not think she will like it. In the evening I went to Madame's & from there went with her to the Athenaeum where I sang “Ave Maria” by Luzzi & “O my lost love” by Plumpton …
Tuesday 31. I went to the Opera House in the morning to get my salary 1.10 a week I am to have. Mother went to the house in Carlton she is not going to take it but has seen another one which she likes much better in Drummond St so we are going to live there. I went to the Opera House in the evening …
Wednesday 1 June. Mr. Withers wrote me a letter of congratulation, which Mother answered for me as I was not at home … I was still at Mrs Norcott's & went to the Opera House in the evening …
Thursday 2… I went to the Opera House in the evening.
Friday 3. Milly came up in the morning & brought me a card from Madame asking me to take Mrs Cutter's place next Sunday. I went to Mr. Moroney to see if he knew what Mass it was, but he did not so I sent a note to Mr. Plumpton. I drew 10 out of the bank. Went to the Opera House in the evening …
Sunday 5. I went to the Cathedral in the morning & sang in Mrs. Cutter's place. I read aloud in the evening.
Monday 6. I went into town in the morning but there was no rehearsal so I came back and helped Mother hang the pictures.
Went to Madame's in the afternoon but did not have any lesson. In the evening went to the Opera House from Mrs Norcott's where I had tea …
Tuesday 7. Went to rehearsal at 10.30 & after that got my salary, did not get home till half past one. Mother put down the oil cloth in the hall. I did up the garden a little in the afternoon & went to the Opera House in the evening.
Wednesday 8. Mother did out the bedrooms & put them straight. The man came & took my Venetian blind to mend. I did not go out till the evening when I went down to the Opera House. I bought myself a looking glass.