Former home of musicians Leila Megane and TO Roberts, Caernarfon

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Link to Welsh translationFormer home of musicians Leila Megane and TO Roberts, Caernarfon

Here international opera star Leila Megane once lived with her musician husband Thomas Osborne Roberts (see below).

Portrait of Leila MeganeMezzo soprano Leila was born Megan Margaret Jones, probably at Bethesda police station, in 1891. Her father was a policeman. The family moved to Pwllheli in 1896, where her mother died in 1898. Her father made sacrifices to support her musical talent. She made her first solo appearance in 1907.

After studying at London’s Royal Academy of Music and in Paris, she gained her first professional contract, at the Opéra Comique in Paris. During the First World War she entertained injured soldiers in France, drawing the attention of prominent politicians including Lord Balfour, Bonar Law and Sir Winston Churchill. Her portrait on the right is signed “Megan Jones, Paris 1916”.

In 1919 she began a five-year contract at Covent Garden Opera House, making her debut in Massenet’s Thérèse with Prime Minister David Lloyd George in the audience. In 1922 she made the first complete recording of Sir Edward Elgar's Sea Pictures, with Elgar conducting. She sang at Milan’s La Scala and in Moscow, among other European venues. 

When she sang at New York’s Metropolitan Opera in 1923, Osborne Roberts was her accompanist. They married in New York in 1924. She was his second wife. After their return, they settled here in Caernarfon. They had one daughter, Isaura.

Use the YouTube link below to hear Leila singing Cymru Annwyl, from the Sain album you can buy or download by following the link below.

The couple moved to London in the 1930s, and to Denbighshire at the outbreak of the Second World War. Leila retired in 1939. At the 1955 National Eisteddfod, a scholarship bearing her name was established for young Welsh singers singing at the Royal Academy of Music. She died at her home in Efailnewydd, Pwllheli, in 1960.  

Thomas Osborne Roberts was born near Oswestry. His family moved to Ysbyty Ifan, Denbighshire, in 1890 to keep a shop. He graduated at Bangor and became a land surveyor. He began to study music and learn piano while working at Chirk Castle estate, and moved to Llandudno in 1902 to dedicate his time to music.

Moving to Caernarfon, he became organist of the English Chapel at Y Maes (Castle Square) and organist and choirmaster at Moreia Chapel. About this time, he wrote some of his most famous compositions – Y Nefoedd, Pistyll y Llan, Cymru Lân and the hymn tune Pennant. He taught at the grammar school and gave private lessons. He died in 1948.

He is remembered today by the T Osborne Roberts memorial prize (The Blue Riband), presented yearly at the National Eisteddfod for the best solo singer.

With thanks to Ann Lloyd Jones, of Caernarfon Civic Society

Postcode: LL55 1BD    View Location Map

Sain website – download the Leila Megane album or buy it on CD