Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Romer, Emma

ROMER, EMMA, afterwards Mrs. Almond (1814–1868), vocalist, born in 1814, was the daughter of John Romer and his wife, Sarah Cooper. She was a pupil of James Elliot, and later of Sir George Smart. Her first theatrical appearance was announced at Covent Garden Theatre for 16 Oct. 1830, when, as Clara in the ‘Duenna,’ she exhibited a soprano voice of great volume and compass, together with considerable dramatic talent. But the faultiness of her voice-production, and failure in the technique of her art, checked her immediate progress.

In 1834, however, after appearing at Covent Garden as Zerlina in ‘Fra Diavolo’ and Rosina in the ‘Barber of Seville’ (for her benefit), Miss Romer was engaged at the English Opera House (Lyceum), where she created the rôles of Eolia in Barnett's ‘Mountain Sylph’ and Zulima in Loder's ‘Nourjahad.’ In the winter she returned to Covent Garden, where, in 1835, as Amina in ‘La Sonnambula,’ she ‘reached the topmost round of the ladder of fame’ (Theatrical Observer). But she immediately afterwards declined a minor part, and threw up her Covent Garden engagement. Subsequently, as Agnes in ‘Der Freischütz’ and Liska in ‘Der Vampyr’ (Lyceum, 1835), she won much admiration. In September 1835 she married George Almond, an army contractor.

After her marriage Mrs. Almond appeared at Covent Garden as Esmeralda in ‘Quasimodo,’ a pasticcio from the great masters. The death of Malibran in 1836 afforded her further opportunities, and she now filled the chief rôles in English and Italian opera at Drury Lane, appearing in ‘Fair Rosamond’ (1837), ‘Maid of Artois,’ ‘La Favorita,’ ‘Robert le Diable,’ ‘Bohemian Girl,’ ‘Maritana,’ and many other pieces. In 1852 she undertook the management of the Surrey Theatre, where, during three seasons, she brought out a series of operas in English. After the death of her husband, Mrs. Almond retired from her profession, settling at Margate. She died there, aged 54, on 11 April 1868, and was buried in Brompton cemetery.

Her brother, Frank Romer, musical composer and member of a publishing firm, died in 1889. Her sister Helen (d. 1890) was wife of Mark Lemon [q. v.] Ann Romer (d. 1852), the vocalist, who married William Brough [q. v.], was Emma Romer's first cousin.

[Grove's Dict. iii. 154; Musical World, 1868, pp. 269, 285; Theatrical Observer, 1830–7, passim; Phillips's Recollections, i. 190; Fitzball's Dramatic Life, passim.]

L. M. M.