D'Oyly Carte Opera Company & Isidore Godfrey Lyrics Follow
The D'Oyly Carte Opera Company is a professional light opera company that staged Gilbert and Sullivan's Savoy operas nearly year-round in the UK and sometimes toured in Europe, North America and elsewhere, from the 1870s until 1982. The company was revived for short seasons and tours from 1988 to 2003, and with Scottish Opera it later co-produced two productions.
In 1875, Richard D'Oyly Carte asked the dramatist W. S. Gilbert and the composer Arthur Sullivan to collaborate on a short comic opera to round out an evening's entertainment. When that work, Trial by Jury, became a success, Carte put together a syndicate to produce a full-length Gilbert and Sullivan work, The Sorcerer (1877), followed by H.M.S. Pinafore (1878). After Pinafore became an international sensation, Carte jettisoned his difficult investors and formed a new partnership with Gilbert and Sullivan that became the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company. The company produced the succeeding ten Gilbert and Sullivan operas and many other operas and companion pieces, mostly at the Savoy Theatre in London, which Carte built in 1881 for that purpose. The company also mounted tours in Britain, New York and elsewhere, usually running several companies simultaneously. Carte's able assistant, Helen Lenoir, became his wife in 1888 and, after his death in 1901, she ran the company until her own death in 1913. By this time, it had become a year-round Gilbert and Sullivan touring repertory company.
Carte's son Rupert inherited the company. Beginning in 1919, he mounted new seasons in London with new set and costume designs, while continuing the year-round tours in Britain and abroad. With the help of the director J. M. Gordon and the conductor Isidore Godfrey, Carte ran the company for 35 years. He redesigned the Savoy Theatre in 1928 and sponsored a series of recordings over the years that helped to keep the operas popular. After Rupert's death in 1948, his daughter Bridget inherited the company and hired Frederic Lloyd as general manager. The company continued to tour for 35 weeks each year, issue new recordings and play London seasons of Gilbert and Sullivan. In 1961, the last copyright on the Gilbert and Sullivan operas expired, and Bridget set up and endowed a charitable trust that presented the operas until mounting costs and a lack of public funding forced the closure of the company in 1982. It re-formed in 1988 with a legacy left by Bridget D'Oyly Carte, played short tours and London seasons, and issued some popular recordings. Denied significant funding from the English Arts Council, it suspended productions in 2003. With Scottish Opera, it co-produced The Pirates of Penzance 2013 and The Mikado in 2016.
Some of the company's performers, over the decades, became stars of their day and often moved on to careers in musical theatre or grand opera. The company licensed the operas for performance in Australasia and to numerous amateur troupes in Britain and elsewhere, providing orchestra parts and prompt books for hire. The company kept the Savoy operas in the public eye for over a century and left an enduring legacy of production styles and stage business that continue to be emulated in new productions, as well as recordings.
- Patience: Overture
- HMS Pinafore: I'm called Little Buttercup
- The Sorcerer: Overture
- The Mikado: On a tree by a river a little tom-tit
- The Gondoliers: Dance a cachucha, fandango, bolero
- Iolanthe: When I went to the bar as a very young man
- The Pirates of Penzance: Oh, better far to live and die
- The Gondoliers: Take a pair of sparkling eyes
- Patience: So go to him and say to him
- HMS Pinafore: Never mind the why and wherefore
- The Yeoman of the Guard: Overture
- The Mikado: Overture
- The Gondoliers: For the merriest fellows are we
- Iolanthe: When you're lying awake with a dismal headache
- The Pirates of Penzance: Overture
- The Mikado: As some day it may happen
- Ruddigore: My eyes are fully open
- HMS Pinafore: Overture
- The Yeomen of the Guard: I have a song to sin, O!
- The Mikado: The flowers that bloom in the Spring
- The Gondoliers: I am a courtier grave and serious
- Overture 'Di Ballo'
- The Pirates of Penzance: When a felon's not engaged in his employment
- The Mikado: Behold the Lord High Executioner!
- Ruddigore: Overture
- The Yeomen of the Guard: Were I thy bride
- HMS Pinafore: When I was a lad I served a term
- The Mikado: Three little maids from school
- The Gondoliers: In enterprise of martial kind
- Patience: A magnet hung in a hardware shop