Who are these performers and why are they in costume? “Wolfie” to the rescue!
Problem solving was an incidental and unexpected benefit of using our new Wolfvision visualiser last week. Known affectionately as “Wolfie”, it allows objects from Archives and Special Collections to be viewed by students learning wholly online, or through blended learning. It also has great potential in assisting overseas or interstate researchers to view items in our collection on request, assisted by a staff member.
Rosa Pinkerton and ?
A recent class on researching music in Australia using archival resources from the Rare Music collection included a mystery: an undated photograph of two young people in costume. Rosa Pinkerton’s signature was clear to read, but the name of the man to her left was not—Victor who? The photograph is undated, so was this from before or after Pinkerton finished studying at the Melbourne Conservatorium in 1923? Perhaps she was already in England and working for the Carl Rosa Opera company?
Signature magnified on the Wolfvision machine.
The Wolfvision machine includes a facility for impressive magnification which resolved Victor’s untidy pen strokes into his family name Baxter. And at high levels of magnification, enough of the photographic studio’s blind embossing could be seen to tell us that the image was taken in Melbourne. After that, the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music’s Prospectus for 1924, which records reliable details of the student concerts of the previous year, allowed us to come up with a working theory! Pinkerton and Baxter were on the program of a concert given in June 1923, comprising excerpts from four operas. Our two singers had the lead roles in Wagner’s Lohengrin. As their costumes are medieval in style—and other “Scenes from Opera” concerts were given in costume—it seems that the mystery is, most likely, solved!
1924 Melbourne Conservatorium of Music Prospectus
Turns out it’s all in the name: wolves do have much better vision than humans!
Read more about the performance at:
“MUSIC.” The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic.: 1864 – 1946) 16 June 1923: 29. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/140745524/11906324
Dr Jen Hill,
Archives and Special Collections, Student and Scholarly Services
[Photographic portraits of Rosa Pinkerton] (The catalogue record has now been updated to include Victor’s name)
The University Conservatorium of Music … Prospectus, 1924 (Carlton, 1924), p. 54.