World of G & S

Richard D'Oyly Carte

A Man of Great Vision

Photo of Richard D'Oyly Carte The success of the Gilbert and Sullivan Operas involved a third person: Richard D'Oyly Carte, a man of great vision and a man who was very much ahead of his time, it was his idea that Gilbert and Sullivan should collaborate.

The works became known as the Savoy Operas named after the Savoy Theatre, (which had been built by him especially to house the Operas).

The Savoy Theatre was the first public building in the world to be lit by electricity. Artists who performed on a regular basis became known as 'Savoyards', for many of these artists it became their life's work. Sir Henry Lytton (knighted for his services to the theatre) was a much-loved Savoyard and described as 'A Knight of all he Savoyed!'

Sometimes as many as seven D'Oyly Carte Companies were touring the provinces, they also toured America, Canada, South Africa, and parts of Europe.

From the profits of the Mikado alone, Richard D'Oyly Carte was able to build the incomparable Savoy Hotel, enlisting from Paris Augustus Escoffier as chef and Ceser Ritz as the Manager. A chain of hotels, restaurants and businesses followed including Claridges and Simpsons in The Strand.

D'Oyly Carte also built the Palace Theatre originally as the Royal English Opera House. Sir Arthur Sullivan's 'Ivanhoe' was the very first production to be performed there.


Recommended reading: 'The Secret Life of the Savoy and the D'Oyly Carte Family' by Olivia Williams.