Powys Digital History Project

Upper Swansea Valley
Craig-y-nos Castle 7
by Len Ley

Patti's later life at Craig-y-nos
The death of Nicholini wrought great change in the life of Patti and her castle. She was 56 years old and was soon to meet Baron Rolf Cederstrom, a Swedish nobleman 26 years her junior. They were married in the Catholic Church at Brecon on the 25th January 1899 and returned to Craig-y-nos.

Her engagements were becoming rare and her last professional appearance took place in 1900, when she sang in a charitable performance of Romeo and Juliet at Covent garden. Although her stage performance had come to an end, Baroness Cederstrom satisfied her need to sing through private performances in her beautiful and well equipped theatre.


Rolf Cedestrom

Photograph by
kind permission of
Brecknock Museum

Baron Rolf CederstromAn exciting event in her later years was the sound of her singing voice as she listened to a newly cut wax impression of an early gramophone record. It had been the ambition of all ‘Talking Machine’ companies to record the great soprano, but for many years she had refused to sing for them.

The phonograph had been replaced by an infant gramophone, which the diva considered a mere toy and unable to produce the true quality of her voice. Madam Patti was approaching 63 when the music world finally persuaded her to face the recording machine and sing for posterity. It was agreed that a recording team should travel to Craig-y-nos, and in 1906 they arrived at the castle and installed their equipment in the theatre.

The Diva was kind and generous but somewhat temperamental, calling everyone ‘darling or devil as the mood dictated’. Very devout, she was said to be the singer with a flawless voice and personality to match. Each session lasted about an hour, and the whole recording took four days to complete. She found it difficult to remain still when singing into the machine’s small funnel, and was gently restrained from moving to the demands of the music.

Initially she was quite nervous and after the first recording asked to hear it immediately. Although this would spoil the work, her wish was granted and the piece recorded once again. With the sound of her voice the great soprano finally shared an experience that had captivated audiences around the globe. Although praying before each recording, she felt reassured and faced the remainder with less foreboding. 

  Shortly after completing her repertoire, the recording team hid the gramophone near the main staircase, and as the Baroness descended to dinner the air was filled with the sound of her voice.
She is said to have remained still and very pale, clinging to the banisters throughout. Although in the twilight of her glorious career, her voice rang true and was professionally superb. Unfortunately, Patti recorded no more, but her voice and technique overcame the shortcomings of that early equipment and produced a quality of sound that sped the gramophone in to the homes of many. A glorious career was drawing to its close, and new technology paid tribute to a remarkable lady.
  There are 10 pages on Craig-y-nos. Use the box links below to view the other pages.