Richard D’Oyly Carte Biography (English Opera Impresario)

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Who was Richard D’Oyly Carte? Information on English opera impresario Richard D’Oyly Carte biography, life story, operas and works.

Richard D'Oyly Carte

Richard D’Oyly Carte (Source: wikipedia.org)

Richard D’Oyly Carte; (1844-1901), English opera impresario, who achieved world fame as the producer of the comic master-works of Gilbert and Sullivan. D’Oyly Carte was born in London on May 3, 1844. Educated at University College in London, he began his career in music as a composer and had three of his operettas produced between 1868 and 1871. He soon turned to theater management, handling individual artists (including the composer Charles Gounod) and producing French opéra bouffes in London. In 1875 he commissioned William S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan to write the one-act opera Trial by jury. The production was a great success and initiated a historic producer-composer-librettist association.

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In 1881, D’Oyly Carte built the Savoy Theatre for his productions of “Gilbert and Sullivan.” The first electrically lit theater in London, it became popular as the home of such Gilbert and Sullivan masterpieces as Patience (1881), The Mikado (1885), and The Gondoliers (1889). Much to the dissatisfaction of Gilbert, however, D’Oyly Carte, backed by Sullivan, established a different theater for productions of English grand opera. Disputes concerning this undertaking led to a three-year hiatus in the Gilbert and Sullivan partnership, and D’Oyly Carte’s Royal English Opera House was a fiasco, opening and closing in 1891 with Sullivan’s Ivanhoe. After Gilbert and Sullivan began to collaborate again, D’Oyly Carte produced their last two comic operas, Utopia Limited (1893) and The Grand Duke (1896). He died on Aug. 3, 1901, in London.

Following D’Oyly Carte’s death, the D’Oyly Carte company, popularly known as the “Savoyards,” was managed until 1913 by his wife, Helen, and later by his son Rupert. In 1948 his granddaughter, Bridgit, became manager.

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