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Blue Plaque Commemorates Opera Singer Elsie Griffin

10th Feb 2012

A blue plaque commemorating the life of the opera singer Elsie Griffin has been unveiled at St Michael on the Mount Primary School in Bristol where Elsie attended primary school as a child.
Elsie Griffin was born in Bristol in 1895 and was an English opera singer best known for her performances as lead soprano for the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company and Savoy Opera during the early 1920s. She went on to become one of the most famous principal sopranos of her time.
Elsie’s career began entertaining British troops in France during World War I and she is accredited with popularising “Danny Boy” and “Roses of Picardy” (ballads written by Frederic Weatherly). The ballads went on to become hits of the era.
During her career with D’Oyly Carte and Savoy Opera, Elsie performed a variety of leading Gilbert & Sullivan heroines such as Josephine in HMS Pinafore, Gianetta in The Gondoliers, Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance and Phyllis in Iolanthe. Her colleague, Derek Oldham said of her interpretation of Mabel, “Every note dead in its centre, every run as clear as a whistle, and the whole number sung with an ease and mastery which has never been bettered”.
In 1923, Elsie married the comic baritone, Ivan Menzies and they had a daughter, Mahala. Elsie continued performing on stage as well as opera galas, concerts, oratorio and variety and was a regular performer for the BBC, where she appeared in comic duets (with her husband), solos and opera.
Elsie’s last stage role was in The Vanishing Island musical which toured the world from 1955-1957. Elsie died in 1989 in Surrey, aged 94.