From the collection: Catherine Hayes illustration
Born in Ireland, Hayes escaped abject poverty through her talent to a life of stardom in the opera houses and concert halls of Europe, America, Asia, the Pacific and Australia.
‘Tis sad to say adieu’ is a sentimental ballad written by Richard Frederick Harvey, published in Dublin in 1850 as a companion to Hayes’s earlier hit ‘Home of my heart’, and suited her sense of Irish patriotism. The diva spent much of her career performing to rapturous audiences as she travelled the world, and she sometimes included new compositions, like this one, dedicated to her local audiences. Before her departure from Sydney in October 1854, Hayes performed ‘Fair land of Australia’, a song composed for her by her tour conductor, Lewis Lavenu (1818–1859), who then spent the rest of his life working in Australia.
Today, the only known full copy of ‘Tis sad to say adieu’ is an edition without the portrait in the British Library.
To find out more about Catherine Hayes and her impact on the Australian cultural scene, visit the Songs of Home exhibition at the Museum of Sydney, 10 August – 17 November.