Carte, Richard D’Oyly PERSONALITIES

Carte, Richard D’Oyly

( words)

Richard Carte – D’Oyly was his middle name – was born in London’s Soho on 3 May 1844 and, after a brief period of schooling, was set to work for the family firm of musical-instrument makers and music publishers. He tried his hand at composing and even dabbled in amateur dramatics before setting up on his own in 1870 arranging lecture tours and concerts. First impressions, on meeting him, could be deceptive, as François Cellier, D’Oyly Carte’s musical director, admitted. ‘His customary attitude was that of a shy or nervous man. Whilst conversing with him, a stranger might not unreasonably imagine that he was indifferent to the subject under discussion; he gave one the impression that his thoughts were wandering far away. But all the while he was carefully weighing every word, twisting and turning its value over in his mind.’

 

THE SAVOY - the book;

 

Similarly, although D’Oyly Carte possessed a keen sense of humour, ‘his countenance never betrayed appreciation of the joke. He seemed as emotionless as the Sphinx.’ Helen Couper-Black, better known by her stage name of Helen Lenoir, became the unrivalled lady of the house. Her financial knowledge and aesthetic sense coupled with her tact and ability to soothe ruffled feathers were as much appreciated as much as her good taste and elegance. In January 1875, Richard D’Oyly Carte, the 30-year-old concert and lecture agent of Irish descent, had been engaged by Selina Dolaro to manage her new theatrical company. Dolaro, as both star and proprietor, had chosen to perform Offenbach’s La Perichole at the Royalty Theatre in Soho, but the play was found to be too short to fill the entire evening. Additional entertainment would be needed – and quickly. When William Gilbert dropped in on a rehearsal, D’Oyly Carte lost no time in asking him if he had anything suitable. Gilbert duly sent D’Oyly Carte the manuscript of a skit set in a court of law, Arthur Sullivan was brought in to put it to music and Trial by Jury was born. The piece was rushed through rehearsals and, with Sullivan’s brother Fred playing the part of the judge, was ready for its debut on 25 March. The new team proved successful. Thus did serendipity play its part in the formation of one of the greatest collaborations in British musical history: Richard D’Oyly Carte as impresario and business manager, William Gilbert as librettist and Arthur Sullivan as composer. It was an association that spanned more than two decades and brought wealth and fame to all three. For the purpose of building The Savoy Hotel, London, a new company was registered on 28 May 1889, its purpose being to ‘acquire the large building, called The Savoy Hotel’, and a prospectus issued to potential investors. It had a share capital of £200,000, split evenly between £10 ordinary and £10 preference shares, and a further £140,000-worth of debentures. Sullivan became a shareholder of the new company.

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