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Nellie Briercliffe (1889 – December 12 1966) was an Englishmarker singer and actress, best known for her performances in the mezzo-soprano roles of the Savoy Operas with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company.

Life and career

Nellie Briercliffe was born in Boltonmarker. She had performed extensively in the provinces before making her London stage debut in December 1913 at the Haymarket Theatremarker in A Dear Little Wife. Briercliffe joined the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company in 1914, immediately assuming the roles of Hebe in H.M.S. Pinafore, Edith in The Pirates of Penzance, Lady Angela in Patience, Iolanthe in Iolanthe, Melissa in Princess Ida, Pitti-Sing in The Mikado, Phoebe in The Yeomen of the Guard, and Tessa in The Gondoliers. When The Sorcerer was revived in 1916, she added the role of Constance.

Catherine Ferguson (Kate), Briercliffe (Edith), and Ella Milne (Isabel) in Pirates, 1920
left the D'Oyly Carte organisation in 1918, got married, and appeared in London at in a musical comedy called Our Boys. She rejoined D'Oyly Carte for the 1919–20 season, appearing in all her former roles. From 1920 to 1924, she continued to perform in musical comedies in London, appearing in Wild Geese, and then gave up performing for three years.

She resumed performing in 1927 in Escape. She appeared in a production of William Thackeray's Christmas play, The Rose and the Ring in 1928, with new music by Christabel Marillier, conducted by Malcolm Sargent. She rejoined D'Oyly Carte one more time for the long 1929–30 season at the Savoy Theatremarker. Her roles this time included her previous ones as well as Mad Margaret in Ruddigore. After the season ended, she continued to appear in shows in London until 1931.

Briercliffe was popular with audiences for her vivacious stage presence. One writer noted,
[F]or the older members like myself who saw them all in person there was nobody to come up to Nellie Briercliffe. In my opinion she had everything. Her stage presence was superb; dainty, petite and with a kind of fairy grace which you could never forget. Certainly there never has or will be another Iolanthe like her. ...I can still see her in the supplication song, standing in the dim light and that glorious voice full of the pathos which tended to bring tears to your eyes. It was indeed a splendid voice, lovely and mellow and you sometimes wondered where all the power came from her slight frame. And yet she also had an impish sense of humour... as Tessa, as Melissa in Ida (the best I have ever seen). What humour she extracted from this part and also from Phoebe... this sense of humour was something which to me made her stand cut above the others. [320961]

Briercliffe was known in the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company as "Budgie". She died in Portsmouthmarker.


Briercliffe participated in all seven D'Oyly Carte recordings made for HMV between 1929 and 1932, as Phoebe, Edith, Iolanthe, Hebe, Angela, Margaret, and Melissa.


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