Adelina Patti


Adela Juana Maria Patti was born in Madrid on 19th February 1843, the youngest of six children. Her Sicilian father, Salvatore Patti, and Italian mother, Caterina Barilli were both opera singers. Her sisters Amalia and Carlotta Patti were also singers, and her brother Carlo Patti, who married actress Effie Germon was a violinist.
In 1847 the family immigrated to the Wakefield section of the Bronx, in New York, America, where at the age of just 8 years old Adelina began her singing career in the New York concert halls.
At the age of 16 Adelina made her first operatic debut on 24 November 1859 at the Academy of Music in New York as ‘Lucia di Lammermoor’. Less than a year later on 24 August 1860, Patti performed solo in honour of the visit of the Prince of Wales in the world premiere of Charles Wugk Sabatier’s Cantata in Montreal.
The following year in 1861 she made her debut in Convent Garden where she played the role of Amina in Bellini’s La sonnambula. So successful was her performance that she went on performing Amina in Paris and Vienna in subsequent years with equal success.
During an American tour in 1862 she attended the White House where she sang ‘Home Sweet Home’ for Abraham Lincoln and his wife Mary, who were in mourning for the loss of their son to Typhoid. The Lincolns were so overwhelmed they requested an encore, and this prompted Patti to perform the song at the end of all her concerts.
Patti not only conquered England and the United States through her performances, but also achieved adulation as far afield as Russia, and South America.
During her prime she apparently demanded to be paid $5000 a night, in gold, before her performance. Her contracts stipulated that her name was to be top of the bill and printed larger than any other name in the cast, also her contracts insisted that while she was “free to attend all rehearsals, she was not obligated to attend any”.
In 1893, Patti created the title role of Gabriella in a now-forgotten opera by Emilio Pizzi at its world premiere in Boston. Patti had commissioned Pizzi to write the opera for her.
Patti’s personal life was not as successful as her professional life, and her engagement, whilst still a minor, to Henri de Lossy, Baron of Ville didn’t last.
In 1868, at the age of 25, Patti married her first husband, Henri de Roger de Cahusac, Marquess of Caux the Equerry to Napoleon III of France, who was 18 years her senior. They were married in London and resided at Pierrepoint House, which was situated in Clapham Park, London, where Adelina Patti later renamed the residence the ‘Rossini Villa’.
The relationship didn’t last, and the couple spent most of their 9 year marriage living separately, where there were accusations of physical violence on the part of de Cahusac, and although he contemplated filing charges of adultery, as it was publicly known that Patti was living with French Tenor Ernesto Nicolini, he was dissuaded by friends, due to the possibility of Patti being imprisoned if she were to be found guilty
In a bid to hurry the divorce proceedings, Patti attempted to claim that her marriage was invalid, in suggesting the priest who performed the ceremony was not licensed to conduct weddings, yet the French courts decided that her civil marriage was a legally-binding contract. The financial side of the divorce was eventually finalised, where Patti was ordered to pay all the court costs, with de Cahusac being awarded half of Patti’s substantial wealth.
Although legally separated, Patti and de Cahusac were not officially divorced, and Patti saw herself shunned by the upper class members of the London society during private occasions as she remained living with Nicolini. However, she continued to receive personal invitations from Queen Victoria to perform at Buckingham Palace, of which she attended for over 25 years. There were also rumours of her close friendship with Edward, Prince of Wales being more than just platonic. The Prince of Wales was notoriously well known for indulging in extra-marital affairs.
In 1878 Patti had purchased Bryn Melin at an estimated £3,500, the mansion and parklands in the South Wales valleys of which she had fallen in love with, and renamed it, Craig-y-Nos, meaning ‘Rock of the Night’.
Patti’s divorce was eventually finalised in July 1885. Four years later de Cahusac died.
A year later, on 1st July 1886, Adelina and Nicolini were finally married in Swansea, South Wales by the Spanish Consul, with the marriage being blessed at St. Cynog’s Church, Ystradgynlais.
While at the mansion, the couple embarked on a major development program, adding the North and South wings, Clock Tower, Conservatory, Winter Gardens, Theatre, Coach House, Stable Block, Laundry and a small private Catholic Church.
The mansion was the first to be wired for electricity, and the tiles in the fireplace, situated in what is now known as ‘Patti’s Bar’, are the original, as is the clock of which sits above.
The courtyard of the castle still has one of the original pair of ‘Crane Fountains’ made by the local ironworks in Ystradgynlais.
When Adelina Patti bought the mansion she chose to have her own private theatre and ballroom built in order to entertain her guests and practice for her performances.
Having hired Swansea architects Bucknall and Jennings, Patti initiated the ascending/descending floor, where two, hand- wound mechanical jacks were used to raise and lower the floor. Patti also ordered the chairs be designed with the front legs made higher than the back in preparation for the tilting floor.
The auditorium was originally decorated in pale blue, cream and gold wall panels, with ten Corinthian columns supporting the ceiling, where in between these are the names of Patti’s favourite composers including Mozart, Verdi and Rossini, all gilded and surmounted by Patti’s monogram.
The stage area was originally fronted by blue silk curtains, with a back drop that illustrates Patti riding in a chariot, dressed as ‘Semiramide’ from the opera of the same name by Rossini.
The Grade I listed opera house was opened on 12 July by actor William Terris, and among its 150 guests were the Spanish Ambassador and Baron Julius Reuter.
After performing for her guests Patti would take them to the banqueting hall for dinner while her staff would remove all the auditorium seating and raise the floor ready for the guests to return for a night of dance.
There was also a private road constructed from the castle to the small railway station at Penwyllt, along with a private train to take Patti to her destinations.
Although described by many as a ‘Diva’, Madam Patti was also considered to be a kind hearted generous woman who continuously helped the local community, where she gave many charitable concerts for the local hospitals of Swansea, Neath, and in the Brecon, often raising over £700 at a single performance.
During her marriage to Nicolini many parties were hosted at the castle, and therefore up to 70 staff members were employed.
Patti had genuine affection for all her staff, where she would continue to pay wages to those who were ill and unable to work, and would arrange for the doctor to visit them and their families, also providing a hamper of food for the household, of which she would often deliver it herself. The faithful, long serving staff, were given a pension on retirement, and a room at the castle was also provided for those who did not have alternative accommodation.
The staff played a major role in Patti’s life, and she treated them all as family, often inviting the staff to dress in any fancy dress that she had available, where they would all assemble in the billiard room after dinner. Patti would often join them in fancy dress, usually wearing a dress that she would have worn during her opera performance, and she would join in the fun by dancing and singing with her staff. Her butler, Daniel Longo, would be ordered to ‘pop the cork’, which was the signal for the drinks to be poured, either champagne or port, for both staff and Patti.
One long serving employee was Constantine Hibbert, the Head Gardener, who was still at the castle at the time of Patti’s death.
Patti never produced a child of her own, and would often call at Hibbert’s cottage on her daily walks to visit his 5 children, whom she adored. Hibbert suffered with Arthritis in his hands, and out of kindness Patti bought him a ring of which she had seen advertised, believing it would help his condition.
Other staff members who were held in high esteem were the chef, Adamo Adami and Lorenza Couroneu de Patrocini, who Patti described as a ‘friend’, and who often appeared in many of Patti’s photographs.
Adamo Adami came from an Italian family of chefs, and met Adelina Patti whilst he worked at the Sackfield Hotel, in Dublin. Patti was so impressed with her soup that she called for the chef and stated to him:
“Whenever you want a change, come to Craig-y-Nos.”.
That was the beginning of a nine year career, where his culinary dishes delighted both Patti and Nicolini. They friendship came to an end when at the age of 43 Adamo Adami died from pneumonia, leaving a widow and three young children, the youngest being just 2 months old. He was buried at Colbren, near Craig y Nos and was fondly remembered throughout the district.
Although many had reported that Patti and Nicolini experienced an enjoyable life together, there were also suggestions of the marriage not having been one of blissful happiness, which may explain why Nicolini removed Patti’s name from his will, of which she was once to bequeath everything.
It was during January 1898, after suffering from poor health, Nicolini died in Pau, South East of France, leaving Adelina a widow at the age of 56.
Ten months after the death of Nicolini, during a concert at the Royal Albert Hall on 14th November 1898, Patti announced her engagement to Baron Rolf Cederström, a Swedish nobleman who was half her age.
Less than a year later, on 25 January 1899, the couple married at the Catholic Church in Brecon.
Unlike Nicolini, the Baron did not approve of Patti’s circle of friends, and after their marriage Patti’s social life was greatly reduced.
The parties at the castle became less frequent, and her performances also became less as she spent more time with her husband and staff, of which the Baron had greatly reduced to just 18 members, a vast difference from the 70 who were once employed at her home, but gave her the devotion and flattery that she needed, becoming her sole legatee.
Patti played her last professional concert on 1 December 1906, at the Royal Albert Hall, where her last public appearance occurred on 24th October 1914, when she sang again to a full house at the Royal Albert Hall in aid of the Red Cross, concluding a public singing career of which had lasted 68 years.
By the spring of 1918 Patti’s health began to deteriorate where she suffered depression by the effects of the war. Her heart had become weak, and having fallen down the stairs at her home, she became bedridden, and contracted pneumonia.
Adelina Patti died peacefully, aged 76yrs on 27th September 1919.
Patti’s embalmed body, of which is believed was performed in what is now the cellar of the castle, was placed in her coffin and taken to her private chapel until 24th October, where she was then taken to London for the world to pay homage to her.
As were her instructions, her body was transported to France and was buried in the Paris cemetery Pere le Chaise, in order to be close to her father and also her favourite composer, and very close friend, Gioachino Rossini, of which was in accordance with her wishes of her will.
Gioachino Rossini, an Italian composer who wrote 39 operas as well as sacred music, chamber music, songs, and some instrumental and piano pieces, died at the age of 76 from pneumonia at his country house at Passy on Friday, 13 November 1868. He was buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, France. In 1887, his remains were moved to the Basilica di Santa Croce di Firenze, in Florence, at the request of the Italian government.
After Patti’s death the castle and estates were inherited by her husband, Baron Rolf Cederstrom. In 1921 Baron Cederstrom sold the castle to the King Edward VII Welsh National Memorial Association, for conversion into a Tuberculosis Hospital, on the condition it would be named after his late wife.
On 14th November 1921 the Baron married Hermione Francis Caroline Fellowes, where they had one daughter, Brita Cederstrom, born in 1924. The Baron died on 24th February 1947 which resulted in his only daughter becoming sole heir to Adelina Patti’s fortune.

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The Adelina Patti Theatre at Craig Y Nos Castle is a participant in Visit Theatre, a guide to theatres’ tours in Great Britain, the Netherlands and Belgium with information on tours and theatre buildings’ history and architecture. Visit Theatres is part of the European Route of Historic Theatres project supported by the Culture Programme of.

Craig-y-nos Castle
Shown in Powys
General information
LocationSwansea Valley, Powys, Wales
Coordinates51°49′30.00″N3°41′03.00″W / 51.8250000°N 3.6841667°WCoordinates: 51°49′30.00″N3°41′03.00″W / 51.8250000°N 3.6841667°W

Craig-y-nos Castle (English: Rock of the Night), is a Victorian-Gothic country house in Powys, Wales, United Kingdom. Built on parkland beside the River Tawe in the upper Swansea Valley, it is located on the southeastern edge of the Black Mountain. The castle, formerly owned by opera singer Adelina Patti, is now a boutique hotel, catering, conferencing and entertainment venue. Adjoining the castle are its landscaped grounds which now serve as a country park, managed separately by the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority.

Adelina Patti: Queen of Hearts (Opera Biography) Cone, John Frederick on shipping on qualifying offers. Adelina Patti: Queen of Hearts (Opera Biography). Adelina Patti (February 10, 1843 - September 27, 1919) was a highly acclaimed 19th century opera diva.

Adelina Patti Recordings


Early history[edit]

Powell family[edit]

The main building was built between 1841 and 1843 by Captain Rice Davies Powell, who became a county magistrate and a High Sheriff of Brecknock. It was said that his family were cursed thanks to their bloodline relationship with the Dutch Overbeek family of Calcutta and Cape Town, who Captain Powell had diddled out of an inheritance (see Dundee Evening Telegraph – Saturday 25 May 1901, page 3, column 5), with cholera taking his younger son in 1851, and the deaths of his wife and younger daughter before he died in 1862. In 1864 his eldest son was killed in a hunting accident on the Isle of Wight. This resulted in eldest daughter Sarah's inheriting the estate, and she moved in with her husband Captain Allaway. After Allaway died in 1875, Sarah moved to Tenby, before the property was sold in 1876.[1]

Morgan Morgan[edit]

After the estate entered into the trust of the Chancery, it was bought by Morgan Morgan of Abercrave for £6,000 in 1876. Mr Morgan and his family, plus his son also called Morgan Morgan and his family, lived jointly in the castle for several years. The family cleared a large plantation of 80-year-old fir trees which stood between the castle and the quarries above, which were said to be home to a local population of red squirrels.[1]

Adelina Patti Chihuahua

Adelina Patti[edit]

Adelina Patti purchased the castle and surrounding park land for £3500 in 1878,[1] to develop it as her own private estate. The prima donna had reached the soaring heights of a spectacular career. She spent the rest of her life at Craig-y-nos, leaving it only to sing in the premier opera houses of Europe and to tour the United States, captivating the world with her flawless soprano voice.[2]

After her second marriage, to French tenorErnesto Nicolini, she embarked on a major building programme at the castle, adding the North and South wings, the clock tower, conservatory, winter garden and theatre.[3] After making her last public appearance in October 1914, when she sang for the Red Cross and filled the Albert Hall, she spent the rest of her life at Craig-y-nos with her third husband and a devoted staff.[1]

Adelina Patti Theatre[edit]

The Adelina Patti Theatre is a Grade I listedopera house. Built to be Patti's own private auditorium, it was designed by Swansea architects Bucknall and Jennings, with input from Sir Henry Irving.[4] Briefed by Patti to be her miniature version of La Scala, Milan, it incorporates features from Wagner's Bayreuth Festspielhaus opera house in Bayreuth,[4] and the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London.[3]

At 40 feet (12 m) long, 26 feet (7.9 m) wide and 24 feet (7.3 m) high the auditorium was originally decorated in pale blue, cream and gold wall panels.[4] Ten Corinthian columns support the ceiling, and in between these are the names of composers such as Mozart, Verdi and Rossini, all gilded and surmounted by Madam Patti's monogram.[4] The stage area was originally fronted by blue silk curtains, with a back drop that illustrates Madam Patti riding in a chariot, dressed as Semiramide from the opera of the same name by Rossini. The design incorporates a mechanical auditorium floor which can be: raised level, for use as a ballroom; or sloped towards the stage, when in use as a theatre.[4] The theatre incorporated an organ, given to Patti in the United States after one of her tours. This was dismantled in the 1920s when the buildings became a hospital.[4]

Able to seat 150 people, the back of the theatre houses a gallery where the domestic staff would sit, enabling them to enjoy the performances. The orchestra pit is separated from the seating area by a balustrade, and holds up to 24 musicians.[4]

Adelina Patti

Invitations for the July 12, 1891, opening event went to two types of guest: those invited to stay at the castle, and those invited just for the performance. House guests included: the Spanish Ambassador; Baron and Baroness Julius De Reuter, founder of the Reutersnews agency; and Lord and Lady Swansea. Journalists from international newspapers including The Daily Telegraph, Le Figaro and the Boston Herald were also invited as house guests to report on the opening.[4] Final rehearsals occurred in the afternoon with the Swansea Opera Company, before a specially chartered train arrived at Penwyllt with the performance guests. Due to start at 20:00, the performance eventually started at 20:30 after a light tea. Sir Henry Irving was to have given the opening address, but as he was unable to attend, leading actor William Terris deputised.[1] Patti's performance included the prelude to act one of La traviata, and in the second half the Garden Scene from Faust. There then followed a buffet supper served in the conservatory, with a total of 450 bottles of champagne consumed at the party.[4]

Today the theatre remains a time capsule, and the stage is probably the only surviving example of original 19th century backstage equipment.[3] The opera house is licensed for weddings.[5]

Winter garden[edit]

The Patti Pavilion, Swansea after refurbishment, 2009

The winter garden is a spacious building with a soaring roof and made mainly from glass, where Patti would promenade with her guests among tropical plants, whilst exotic birds flew within.[6]

A pair of wrought ironwater fountains in the shape of Cranes were made in the local ironworks by a Mr Crane, who made decorative ironware featuring his namesake bird.[3] Their multi-coloured plumage shed rainbow light from their falling waters, and were said to have captivated all who saw them.[1]

As a result of World War I, in 1918, Patti presented her winter garden to the people of Swansea where it became the Patti Pavilion, and has since been restored on several occasions. One of the crane fountains stands in the forecourt of the castle,[3] the other in the grounds of Swansea University.[7]


Craig-y-nos was probably the first private house in Wales to be wired for electricity.[3] The first in the UK was Cragside in Northumberland in 1880, a year after the invention of the electric light bulb by Thomas Edison.[8] An Otto engine in the grounds created a 110 V DC system, with distribution provided by two bare copper wires placed in two adjacent grooves carved into a plank of wood, with a second plank placed over the top of it. This supplied power for Swan lamps throughout the castle, and an electrically powered Welte Concert Orchestrion which was operated by a perforated paper roll, situated in the French billiards room.[3] The organ was the pride and joy of her second husband, French tenor Nicolini, thus dating installation prior to his death in 1898.[1] Discovery and investigation into the system was only found by Mr J. A. Lea, the last Hospital Secretary.[1]


The Neath and Brecon RailwayCraig-y-nos railway station was in part funded by Patti.[9] A private road was constructed from the castle to the station, where a lavishly furnished private waiting room was installed. In return the Neath and Brecon Railway was commissioned to provide Patti with her own private railway carriage, which she could request attached to any train to take her whenever, and wherever within the United Kingdom, she wanted to travel.[3]

At the start of the 20th century, Patti had one of the first motor cars in Wales, and is reported to have raced a local doctor from Swansea to Abercrave for a small wager.[3]

Tuberculosis hospital[edit]

After Adelina Patti's death in 1919, the castle and the grounds were sold to the Welsh National Memorial Trust for £11,000 in March 1921, an organisation founded to combat tuberculosis in Wales. Reconstructed as a sanatorium and called the Adelina Patti Hospital at the request of her widower, it admitted its first patients in August 1922. In 1947, the children of Craig-y-nos were among the first in the UK to receive the first effective TB medicine, the antibioticstreptomycin.[10] In 1959, it became a hospital for the elderly. After the transfer of remaining patients to the new Ystradgynlais Community Hospital, the castle closed as a hospital on 31 March 1986.[7]

More information about Craig-y-nos' time as a TB hospital may be found in the book 'The Children of Craig-y-nos' by Ann Shaw and Carole Reeves. Clive Rowlands, a famous rugby player, was one of its patients, being admitted in 1947, as an eight-year-old. He was given a rugby ball as a gift and accidentally kicked it through a glass door, for which he was put in a straitjacket for a week.[11]

In a project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Sleeping Giant Foundation charity, the Wellcome Trust Centre and University College of London, in 2007 an exhibition at the Welfare Hall, Ystradgynlais, showed relics and recorded recalls of patients from its time as a TB sanatorium.[10]

Recent history[edit]

The Welsh Office declared Craig-y-nos Castle and its unique theatre surplus to requirements soon after the opening of the new Community Hospital in nearby Ystradgynlais. In 1988 the Freehold of the property was sold to a consortium of businessmen who formed the Craig-y-nos Castle Company Ltd. After a long period of repair and restoration, the castle opened to the public as a functions venue but was badly hit by the economic recession of the early 1990s.Craig-y-nos Castle was then sold to (medical) Doctor John Trevor Jones and his wife Penelope, who continued the essential repair work including the complete renewal of the theatre's courtyard doors, installation of new central-heating system, re-roofing the theatre and much more, while organising national antiques fairs, musical events and wedding receptions – all to generate income to plough back into the rescue of Patti's castle. On reaching retirement age in October 2000 they sold Craig-y-nos to SelClene Ltd. SelClene continued the restoration, and opened the castle as a hotel.[12]

In 2005, the castle featured in the BBCDoctor Who episode Tooth and Claw, featuring David Tennant as the Doctor and Billie Piper as Rose Tyler.[13] The Torchwood crew later stayed at this hotel and filmed some scenes when filming Countrycide.[14]


Adelina Patti

The castle is said to be subject to strong paranormal phenomena and haunted by the ghosts of Patti; her second husband, French tenor Ernesto Nicolini; and the object of her affection, the composer Gioachino Rossini. Unexplained presences taking many different forms have allegedly been experienced by visitors all over the castle. Visitors have also reported experiencing breathing difficulties and of feeling a lingering presence of patients who were hospitalized there while suffering from tuberculosis.[15]

The Top Children's Ward is the most active room in the castle. With the recovery rate of TB being so low, many children entered the castle at an extremely young age and never left. Many full apparitions have allegedly been seen in this room and some investigators claim to have interacted on numerous occasions, although no evidence has been produced to justify the claims. Again, minor anomalies are regular occurrences, along with the sounds of children's footsteps, bouncing balls and giggles.[1]

A sighting of a dark semi-transparent lady on the stairs was investigated and discovered to be due to a statuette on the roof of the castle which casts a shadow resembling a lady when the sun starts to set.[1] The building was also subject to an investigation on Living TV's Most Haunted.[16]

Adelina Patti


  1. ^ abcdefghij'Craig-y-Nos Castle'. Archived from the original on 2012-03-09. Retrieved 2010-07-17.
  2. ^John Frederick Cone; William R. Moran (November 1993). Adelina Patti: queen of hearts. Amadeus Press. p. 129. ISBN978-0-931340-60-4. Archived from the original on 9 October 2013. Retrieved 22 September 2013.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ abcdefghi'Adelina Patti'. Opera Singer. Archived from the original on 2008-06-11. Retrieved 2008-06-17.
  4. ^ abcdefghi'The Theatre at Craig-y-nos'. Archived from the original on 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2010-07-17.
  5. ^'Wedding venue in Swansea: civil ceremony theatre'. Craig-y-Nos Castle. Archived from the original on 21 February 2019. Retrieved 21 February 2019.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^'Castle History - The Conservatory and Winter Gardens'. Haunted House. Archived from the original on 22 February 2019. Retrieved 21 February 2019.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ ab'Craig-y-Nos Castle'. Powys Digital History Project. Archived from the original on 6 March 2016. Retrieved 21 February 2019.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^Jonathan Taylor. 'Lighting in the Victorian Home'. Archived from the original on March 30, 2010. Retrieved July 17, 2010.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^'Upper Swansea Valley - Craig-y-nos Castle 1'. Archived from the original on 2010-02-26. Retrieved 2010-07-17.
  10. ^ ab'Photos reveal castle's TB history'. BBC Wales. September 8, 2007. Retrieved July 17, 2010.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^'Welsh rugby's indisputable leader Clive Rowlands can reflect on 80 years of greatness'. Wales Online. 12 May 2018. Archived from the original on 21 February 2019. Retrieved 21 February 2019.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^'The First Decade in a New Chapter'. Craig-y-Nos Castle. Archived from the original on 21 February 2019. Retrieved 21 February 2019.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^'Craig-y-nos Castle, Swansea Valley'. BBC Wales. September 28, 2005. Archived from the original on October 17, 2010. Retrieved July 17, 2010.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. ^'Craig-y-nos Castle, Swansea Valley'. September 28, 2005. Archived from the original on September 10, 2010. Retrieved July 17, 2010.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  15. ^'Ghostly Arias'. BBC Wales. Archived from the original on September 10, 2007. Retrieved July 17, 2010.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. ^'Craig-y-Nos Castle'. IMDB. Archived from the original on 9 February 2017. Retrieved 21 February 2019.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

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