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The Full Story

The Glorious Vintage

Charles Benson was a Tasmanian farmer who became an international opera star.  As a four year old brought down the house in the role of a fairy page in The Sleeping Beauty of 1895. Read the full story as reported in  The Australian Town and Country Journal September 21 1895 page 13.

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Charles bottom left with blonde hair.

The Sleeping Beauty of 1895

Tasmanian Letter,

Hobart, September 13.

The children's performance of the "Sleeping Beauty " at the Theatre Royal on Wednesday was a great success. It was given in aid of local charities, and the little folk have been rehearsing, under the direction of Mrs. Benson and Mrs. Henry Dobson for months, indeed, rehearsal, costumes, tinsel, and gauze wings have filled the minds and kept mothers busy for weeks and weeks, and it must be quite a relief now that all is over and has succeeded so well…. Mrs. Benson and Mrs. Dobson had drilled the fifty or sixty children into acting and acting well…. I admired Miss W. Hardy, the wicked fairy, most. She wore a crimson net frock, very short, with crimson lace underskirts, crimson stockings, satin shoes, and huge crimson gauze wings, and carried a golden wand. It was a very clever get-up and everything matched beautifully. Miss Beryl Benson made a charming Princess and sang and danced her minuet very well….

You will think we begin very early in Tasmania when I assure you that a wee boy of 3, stood by the footlights, and clad in garments that must have puzzled him—pink trunk, hose, and doublet—sang a couple of verses in a clear, tuneful voice, taking a long breath, and going for the last high note in the most amusing way. The house simply "rose at him," and he ran back and perched himself on the king's knee till we had stopped applauding, and then did it once more. His mother, Mrs. Benson, is one of our chief amateurs, and I could not but expect that this tiny blue-eyed morsel, with his long flaxen curls, will be heard of by-and-bye.

The Midlands farmer
a tale improved in the retelling

If he had not fallen off a horse, Charles Benson, now a star radio tenor, might never have discovered his voice. He learned of the unsuspected qualities of his voice during a long period when he lay paralysed from spinal injuries suffered in the fall. Benson was a sultana farmer at Mildura when he was injured. Macquarie Street specialists and overseas professors attending a medical conference in Sydney gave him no hope of life. Expecting death, he took his family with him and went to a Tasmanian health resort. Instead, there was a gradual improvement in his condition. When he recovered, he gave recitals in Launceston and Hobart. He then went to America and London and studied with Maggie Teyte and Blanche Marchesi, later securing many engagements in London, where he spent five years. Benson proved an outstanding success as a radio artist, and is now appearing on national stations as a Tasmanian tenor.

 The Evening News Rockhampton Nov 12th page 3 1937

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Charles, at Nala, on right with hat.

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