D'OYLY CARTE OPERA CHORUS
In 1877, Richard D'Oyly Carte formed ‘The Comedy Opera Company’, opening at the Opera Comique Theatre in November, 1877 with The Sorcerer, by William Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. With the success of this work and, the later, H.M.S. Pinafore (1878) ‘The Comedy Opera Company’ flourished. In July, 1879, upon the expiry of the investors’ contracts, the ownership passed entirely to Carte and, thus, the name was changed to ‘Mr R. D’Oyly Carte’s Opera Company’. By 1881, after the success of The Pirates of Penzance (1880), the enterprise had become so lucrative, Carte was able to build his own theatre, The Savoy, to where Patience (1881) was re-located half way through its run.
The next ten years brought continued success to ‘The D’Oyly Carte Opera Company’ with the Savoy Operas Iolanthe (1882), Princess Ida (1884), The Mikado (1885), Ruddigore (1887), The Yeomen of the Guard (1888) and The Gondoliers (1889). Unfortunately the close and constant collaboration between composer and librettist finally took its toll in 1891 with an argument sparked by a carpet, but encompassing the full extent of the differences between Gilbert and Sullivan. This marked the beginning of the end and they only produced two more works, Utopia Limited (1893) and The Grand Duke (1896), neither of which ever became firm favourites nor was particularly successful.
Upon the death of Richard D’Oyly Carte in 1901 ‘The D’Oyly Carte Opera Company’ passed to Richard’s second wife, Helen, who ran the company until her death in 1913. From here ownership fell to Richard’s son, Rupert, who managed the company through both world wars, staging tours and revivals before his death in 1948. At this point the company was passed to the family’s sole surviving member, Bridget, who oversaw the recordings featured on this disc, and helped the company through the difficult transition, and temporary collapse in 1982, following expiration of the copyright in 1961, fifty years after Gilbert’s death. It was Bridget’s legacy that allowed the restoration of ‘The D’Oyly Carte Opera Company’ in 1988.