Richard D'Oyly Carte



  • (Richard Doyle McCarthy; 1844 - 1901) British impresario,best known for his association with Gilbert and Sullivan.The son of the musical-instrument maker who first imported the saxophoneinto Britain, D'Oyly Carte studied composition and was later appointedmanager of the Royalty Theatre in London's Soho. As a concert agenthe began promoting Gilbert and Sullivan with his production of TrialBy Jury at the royalty Theatre in 1875. He subsequently rentedthe Opera Comique to present other early works byGilbert and Sullivan and continued to encourage the partnership, thesuccess of which enabled him to build the Savoy Theatre in1881. His own D'Oyly Carte Opera Company was formed in 1878 for theproduction of HMS Pinafore.

    His flair for promotion and business made all three men wealthy,although D'Oyly Carte became the richest. Much of his time was spentsmoothing over quarrels between his two stars; he generally favouredthe even-tempered Sullivan, who was best man at his wedding. Followingthe first performance of The Gondoliers in 1889, D'Oyly Cartecharged £140 for carpeting to a joint account. Gilbert contestedthis and went to court, only to find Sullivan testifying for D'OylyCarte, who won the case.

    In 1891 D'Oyly Carte built the Royal English Opera house (nowthe Palace Theatre) at London's Cambridge circus. It openedwith Sullivan's opera Ivanhoe, which ran for 155 performances,a record for grand opera. The theater, however, was poorly designedfor opera and D'Oyly Carte lacked a full repertoire. Consequentlythe project failed, losing its instigator a fortune.