Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.

BUCKMAN, Rosina

(1881–1948).

Operatic soprano, professor of singing at the Royal Academy of Music.

A new biography of Buckman, Rosina appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.

Rosina Buckman was born at Blenheim on 16 March 1881, the daughter of John Buckman, a carpenter. She was gifted with a voice of great purity, but was discouraged from taking up singing as a career. In her own words she “drifted in grand opera”. After some early training in New Zealand she went to England where, for two years, she studied under George Breeden at the Birmingham School of Music. Because she thought herself unready and unworthy, she refused a leading role in The Magic Flute and returned to New Zealand where, soon afterwards, she crossed to Australia and toured with J. C. Williamson's light opera companies, and later with Dame Nellie Melba's grand opera company, singing soprano roles. In 1913 she received a message from John McCormack, the Irish tenor, with whom she had toured in Australia, and returned to London to make her début, with immediate success, at Covent Garden in La Bohème. In 1915 she sang with Robert Courtneidge's company and achieved her greatest success as Cho Cho San in Madame Butterfly, an interpretation still regarded as one of the finest. From 1915 to 1920 she was leading soprano with Sir Thomas Beecham's company, singing with distinction in Tales of Hoffman, Tosca. Aida, and Tristan und Isolde, in which she gave another notable performance as Isolde. Rosina's voice is preserved in many gramophone records made during her lifetime. Critics agreed that a natural disinclination for concentrated study preven ed her from achieving a still greater success in the operatic world. In 1919 she married Maurice d'Oisly, the operatic tenor, and together they visited New Zealand during a world tour in 1922. She died in London on 30 December 1948.

by Oliver Arthur Gillespie, M.B.E., M.M. (1895–1960), Author.

  • The Talking Disc, 1918
  • Dominion, 3 Jan 1949 (Obit).


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This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

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