Dictionary of London Immigrants |||

1865-1873 - Haymarket (Westminster)

Actress and singer Selina Dolaro was born Selina Simmonds on 20 August 1849 in London into a Jewish family. Her father was a violinist and conductor and he first taught his daughter. She entered the Paris Conservatory at a young age. In 1865, just sixteen years old, she married watchmaker Isaac Dolaro Belasco in Upper Kennington (Lambeth). Born in 1843, he was an Italian Jew of Spanish descent who had settled in London. His ancestral family name was Miara D’Olivares, but the Inquisition forced his family to take refuge in the Italian town of Belasco where they adopted the name Dolaro.

In 1870, Selina decided that her stage name would be Dolaro and she made her debut in London at the Lyceum Theatre in an Offenbach opera. She went on to appear in several London operas, most notably in the title role of the first English version of Carmen. She then leased the Haymarket Theatre and produced the original version of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Trial by Jury. In 1873, Selina divorced her husband on the grounds of adultery, and she alone raised her two sons and two daughters on the income from her professional engagements. She moved to New York in 1877. In addition to acting and singing, she wrote two plays, a novel entitled Belle Demonia, and a book of poetry, Mes Amours. She died in New York in January 1889. Isaac died in London in 1900.

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