“Florence Austral – Our forgotten Diva”

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Florence Austral (1930. Artist Howard Barron. Courtesy National Portrait Gallery, Australia.

“Florence Austral – Our forgotten Diva” Project – Florence Austral (1892-1968) was a world renowned singer and performed in Opera Houses around the world during the early 20th century. She taught singing at the Newcastle Conservatorium (now part of UON) from 1954 until 1959.

UON Library and City of Newcastle’s Community and Cultural Advisory Committee is working on the project to raise awareness of Madame Austral to be a catalyst for further projects about the city’s music and cultural history and heritage.

“Push for Newcastle to officially recognise opera great, Florence Austral” Hillary Oliver interviewed by ABC Newcastle’s Dan Cox and Jenny Marchant  on 28 August 2019

The Florence Austral Society is collaborating with City of Newcastle and UON Library to officially recognise Austral’s contribution to the city.

Madame Austral was one of the world’s greatest Wagnerian opera singers, and moved to Newcastle in the 1950s working as a teacher at the Newcastle ‘Con’. She died in Newcastle in 1968.

Also see the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

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Courtesy National Library of Australia
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Portrait of Florence Austral, 1947 created by Pate, William A.S
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/133715288
Florence Austral for Newcastle – Newcastle Morning Herald and Miner’s Advocate (1876 – 1954) Newcastle, NSW, 25 April 1952 announcement of teaching in Newcastle

 

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Florence Austral with Eugene Haynes at Newcastle. Courtesy Newcastle Morning Herald. 25 April 1952
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Florence Austral at home in Newcastle Newcastle Morning Herald 10 March 1953
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Opera Singer Florence Austral. Photographer Ron Morrison 28 April 1962

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The project includes archival searches and historic research and for Work Integrated Learning sudents to be involved.

LISTEN TO Sound recordings below.

Twilight of the Gods (Die Götterdämmerung (1928) by Florence Austral NFSA ID: 273004

There is a Green Hill (1926) by Florence Austral NFSA ID: 259764

Hall of Fame Florence Austral 1892-1968

There are also a number of recordings from BBC held at the British Library National Library.  British Library – Search ‘Florence Austral’

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Florence Austral, dramatic soprano, unknown photographer 1929
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Opera singer Florence Austral and flautist John Amadio, New South Wales, ca. 1934 . National Library of Australia
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Madame Florence Austral arriving in Sydney and standing beside a man with a large bouquet of flowers, Sydney, 23 May 1930.
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Madame Florence Austral arriving in Sydney and receiving flowers from four women, Sydney, 23 May 1930. National Library of Australia.
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Opera singer Florence Austral and flautist John Amadio, New South Wales, ca. 1934 National Library of Australia

 

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/170716344

 

NEWSPAPER ARTICLES – (Download PDF HERE)

1922

Miss Florence Austral Home Newspapers & Gazettes Browse  The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 – 1954) Fri 21 Apr 1922

Miss Florence Austral – The Mercury (1860 – 1954) Hobart, Saturday, 22 July 1922

1923

Miss Florence Austral Newcastle Morning Herald and Miner’s Advocate (1876 – 1954) 21/6/1923 [About performance in London at the Handel Festival.]

Miss Florence Austral Newcastle Morning Herald and Miner’s Advocate (1876 – 1954) Newcastle, NSW NSW Thursday, 21 June 1923   Performance at Handel Festival in London.

1924

Florence Austral – The Australasian (1864 – 1946) Melbourne, VIC, 15 November 1924 Shows recent photo of FA.

1925

FLORENCE AUSTRAL – US DebutThe Age (1854 – 1954) Melbourne 10/2/1925
[Mentions she is heading to the Cincinnati Festival in May. Probably this event.[

Florence Austral Newcastle Morning Herald and Miner’s Advocate (1876 – 1954) Newcastle, NSW, 23 September 1925

Florence Austral – Newcastle Morning Herald and Miner’s Advocate (1876 – 1954) Newcastle, NSW, 11 May 1925

Florence Austral – Table Talk (1885 – 1939) Melbourne, VIC VIC Thursday, 30 April 1925 [Leaving England for America]

Florence Austral The Sun (1910 – 1954) Sydney, NSW, 10 February 1925  [US debut, Cincinnati Festival May 7-9]

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AUSTRALIAN’S SUCCESS Home Newspapers & Gazettes Browse  The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 – 1954) Wed 10 Jun 1925

1926

FLORENCE Austral has left England – Table Talk (1885 – 1939) Melbourne, 30/4/1925. Praise for Florence Austral – Weekly Times (1869 – 1954) Melbourne. [Adds to above information about leaving England for US].  2/10/1926

Praise for Florence AustralWeekly Times (1869 – 1954) Melbourne, VIC, 2 October 1926.  quote from chicago tribune/Edward Moore

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AUSTRAL-AMADIO TRIUMPH  Home Newspapers & Gazettes Browse  The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 – 1954)  Mon 22 Nov 1926

1927

Florence AustralThe Daily News (1882 – 1950) Perth, WA, 3 February 1927

1929

 

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CATHEDRAL BANS FLORENCE AUSTRAL The Register News-Pictorial (Adelaide, SA : 1929 – 1931)  Thu 12 Sep 1929

1930

Florence Austral. The Labor Daily (1924 – 1938) Sydney, NSW. 22 May 1930

Florence Austral. Manjimup Mail and Jardee-Pemberton-Northcliffe Press (1927 – 1950). WA. 6 June 1930.

Madam Florence Austral. The Queenslander (1866 – 1939) Brisbane, QLD.  6 February 1930.

MADAME FLORENCE AUSTRA The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 – 1947) Wed 11 Jun 1930

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FLORENCE AUSTRAL Home Newspapers & Gazettes Browse The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 – 1995) Mon 20 Aug 1934

Florence Austral Returns Home Newspapers & Gazettes Browse  Daily Standard (Brisbane, Qld. : 1912 – 1936) Thu 13 Mar 1930

Florence Austral Bunyip (1863 – 1954) Gawler, SA. Tuesday, 6 May 1930

Florence Austral The Northern Producer and Morawa and Perenjori Advertiser (1928 – 1930) WA. 7 June 1930

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Florence Austral The Daily News (1882 – 1950) Perth,WA. 7 August 1930

Florence Austral Queensland Figaro (1901 – 1936) Brisbane, QLD. 31 May 1930

Florence Austral The Daily News (1882 – 1950) Perth, WA, 9 August 1930

Florence Austral Narembeen Observer (1928 – 1933) Narembeen, WA, 6 June 1930

Florence Austral Ballidu-Wongan Budget (1927 – 1941)WA, 7 June 1930

Florence Austral The Brisbane Courier (1884 – 1933) Brisbane, QLD, 14 June 1930

Florence Austral The Daily News (1882 – 1950) Perth, WA, 2 August 1930

Florence Austral Toodyay Herald (1912 – 1954) Toodyay, WA, 6 June 1930

Aero Club Flight to Victoria Florence Austral’s Welcome. The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 – 1954)  Thu 22 May 1930

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Florence Austral – Avon Argus and Cunderdin-Meckering-Tammin Mail (1925 – 1954) WA, 6 June 1930.

Florence Austral – Mullewa Magnet and Perenjori-Morawa Advertiser (1927 – 1931) WA, 7 June 1930

Florence AustralSydney Mail (1912 – 1938) Sydney, NSW, 21 May 1930 41  Mentions she performed at the Cincinnati Festival prior 1930

Florence Austral The Daily News (1882 – 1950) Perth, WA, 30 July 1930

Florence Austral Queensland Figaro (1901 – 1936) Brisbane, QLD, 7 June 1930

Florence Austral  The Eastern Recorder (1909 – 1954) Kellerberrin, WA, 6 June 1930 –  biography

Singer as Cook Home Newspapers & Gazettes Browse  The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 – 1954) Sun 1 Jun 1930

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Florence Austral’s Triumph – The Herald (1861 – 1954) Melbourne, VIC, 23 June 1930  Image

Florence Austral The Evening News (1924 – 1941) Rockhampton, QLD, 4 March 1930   correspondent in London.

Florence Austral soon Truth (1900 – 1954) Brisbane, QLD, 4 May 1930

Florence Austral The Age (1854 – 1954)Melbourne, VIC Saturday, 17 May 1930

Florence Austral Nelson Advocate (1926 – 1938) Nelson County, WA, 6 June 1930

Florence Austral  The Queenslander (1866 – 1939)Brisbane, QLD, 13 March 1930

Madame Florence Austral The West Australian (1879 – 1954) Perth, WA, 2 August 1930   Article mainly list of upcoming events

1932

MALCOLM SARGENT AND MME. FLORENCE AUSTRAL Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 – 1954) Sun 25 Dec 1932

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1933

On the other side of the World: Home Newspapers & Gazettes Browse  Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 – 1954)  Thu 23 Nov 1933

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1934

Madame Florence Austral’s InterestsBarrier Miner (1888 – 1954) 19/5/1934 [Human interest piece on her interests]

A SINGER’S HOBBIES.Home Newspapers & Gazettes Browse  Advocate (Burnie, Tas. : 1890 – 1954)  Thu 26 Apr 1934

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Florence Austral Huon and Derwent Times (1933 – 1942) TAS, 26 April 1934

Florence Austral The Mercury (1860 – 1954) Hobart, TAS, 21 April 1934

Florence Austral The Sydney Morning Herald (1842 – 1954) Sydney, NSW, 4 August 1934

FLORENCE AUSTRAL concert at Deniliquin . Home Newspapers & Gazettes Browse  The Independent (Deniliquin, NSW : 1901 – 1946)  Fri 13 Jul 1934

FLORENCE AUSTRAL – Her Glorious Career Home Newspapers & Gazettes Browse  The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 – 1995) Mon 20 Aug 1934

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Florence Austral The Mercury (1860 – 1954) Hobart, TAS, 19 April 1934

Florence Austral  The Riverine Herald (1869 – 1954) Echuca, VIC, 14 July 1934

Florence Austral The Sydney Morning Herald (1842 – 1954) Sydney, NSW, 21 July 1934

Florence Austral The Australasian (1864 – 1946) Melbourne, VIC, 2 June 1934.  returned to aus after 4 years

A Singer Who Loves Her Kitchen NSW : 1912 – 1938)  (Home Newspapers & Gazettes Browse  Sydney Mail (NSW : 1912 – 1938)  Wed 15 Aug 1934

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Florence Austral Border Watch (1861 – 1954) Mount Gambier, SA, 3 July 1934

Florence Austral Newcastle Morning Herald and Miner’s Advocate (1876 – 1954) Newcastle, NSW, 23 June 1934 poem written for FA

Florence Austral Beautiful Singing The Australasian (1864 – 1946) Melbourne, VIC Saturday, 16 June 1934

Florence Austral  Shepparton Advertiser (1914 – 1953) Shepparton, VIC, 12 July 1934

AmusementsThe Age (1854 – 1954) Melbourne, VIC, 13 February 1934

Florence Austral Final Concert The Age (1854 – 1954) Melbourne, VIC, 23 June 1934 programme list

Florence Austral’s Diet The Sun (1910 – 1954) Sydney, NSW, 5 August 1934

Madame Florence Austral’s Interests – Barrier Miner (1888 – 1954) Broken Hill, NSW, 19 May 1934

Florence Austral  The Mercury (1860 – 1954) Hobart, TAS, 20 April 1934

Florence Austral Concert The North Eastern Ensign (1872 – 1938) Benalla, VIC VIC Friday, 20 July 1934   programme list

1935

Florence Austral – The Northern Miner (1874 – 1954) Charters Towers, QLD, 20 June 1935

Florence Austral – Morning Bulletin (1878 – 1954) Rockhampton, QLD. 18 May 1935

A FLORENCE AUSTRAL TAPESTRY The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 – 1947) Mon 6 May 1935

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Florence Austral Tonight Morning Bulletin (1878 – 1954) Rockhampton, QLD, 30 May 1935

Florence Austral Concert Daily Advertiser (1911 – 1954) Wagga Wagga, NSW, 25 April 1935

Florence Austral Townsville Daily Bulletin (1907 – 1954) Townsville, QLD, 4 June 1935

HOBBIES OF FLORENCE AUSTRAL The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 – 1947) Thu 16 May 1935

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AUSTRAL TAKES 30 RE-CALLS Home Newspapers & Gazettes Browse  Sunday Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1926 – 1954)  Sun 7 Apr 1935

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Florence Austral Morning Bulletin (1878 – 1954) Rockhampton, QLD, 28 May 1935

Florence Austral – Townsville Daily Bulletin (1907 – 1954) Townsville, QLD, 1 June 1935

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Florence Austral The Mercury (1860 – 1954) Hobart, TAS, 1 May 1935

Florence AustralDaily Mercury (1906 – 1954) Mackay, QLD Wednesday, 22 May 1935   FA left Melbourne 15ya (1920)

Daily Mercury (1906 – 1954) Mackay, QLD, 1 June 1935

Florence Austral –

When she was a school-girl In Melbourne, Florence Austral’s rich soprano proved a constant source of amazement to her friends, for its extraordinary power was something of a phenomenon. The young singer knew little or nothing regarding the technique of singing, nor did she regard herself as a likely star of the future. It was more of a joke than anything else — in her own estimation — when some friends persuaded her to enter, as a competitor in the South-street (Ballarat) festival, and nobody was more surprised than herself when her voice aroused the keen interest of the adjudicators. The name ‘Wagner’ conveyed nothing to her, and when come of the musicians present predicted that she would one day be a fine Wagnerlan singer Florence Austral was not quite sure whether they were having a joke among themselves at her expense! But within a period of 15 years Florence Austral found her self not only acclaimed as a great

Wagnerian singer, but as the greatest Wagner artist of the present time. Fresh from her triumphs overseas, Austral has now returned to her own country for a six months’ comprehensive tour while her voice is at its loveliest. She hopes to visit at least 40 centres, and to give at least 100 concerts during her stay, for this will be the only chance that she will have for many years of doing a comprehensive tour of the Commonwealth, Booking is now open for her Mackay Concert, with John Amadio and Raymond Lambert, in the Olympic Theatre on Tuesday nigh

Florence Austral Townsville Daily Bulletin (1907 – 1954) Townsville, QLD, 28 May 1935

1938

FLORENCE AUSTRAL IN ENGLAND. Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 – 1954) Thu 17 Mar 1938

Music in London. Home Newspapers & Gazettes Browse  The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) Sat 26 Mar 1938

1946

FLORENCE AUSTRAL AND NEPHEW. The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 – 1954)  Wed 7 Aug 1946

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1952

Florence Austral for NewcastleNewcastle Morning Herald and Miner’s Advocate (1876 – 1954) 25/04/1952 [About Florence moving to Newcastle and joining the Newcastle Auditorium as a teacher.]

Gown that Austral wore Home Newspapers & Gazettes Browse  The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 – 1954)  Sat 16 Feb 1952

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Reunion By Singers Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW : 1876 – 1954) Fri 25 Apr 1952

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Famous Singer Treasures Her Recipes The Newcastle Sun (NSW : 1918 – 1954) Wed 14 May 1952

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1953

COOKING ENTHUSIAST Home Newspapers & Gazettes Browse  The Newcastle Sun (NSW : 1918 – 1954)  Tue 10 Mar 1953

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1995

Sad demise of a great soprano Home Newspapers & Gazettes Browse  The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 – 1995)  Sat 2 Dec 1995

OTHER SOURCES

Books

Florence Austral – One of the wonder voices of the world. By James Moffat. National Library of Australia (1995).

Where Austral Sang. The Biography of Florence Austral. National Library of Australia (2005)

 

Performances – London Symphony Orchestra

 

YouTube

 

Many thanks to Ashleigh Miller and Jessica Waugh (volunteers at the GLAMx Lab) for their research assistance compiling this post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


3 thoughts on ““Florence Austral – Our forgotten Diva”

  1. Well done Hunter Living Histories. Let’s hope Madame Florence Austral will be recognised as one of our own – a Novocastrian. The portrait held at the UoN should be rehung in the Conservatorium and we should celebrate the rehanging with a concert.

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