Potted History

"Take all the remarkable people in history, Rattle them off to a popular tune."

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1895 - 1914


1895: There are performances of Ivanhoe by the Carla Rosa Opera Company throughout North England and Scotland during February and May.

1895: Famous conductor, Malcolm Sargent, is born in Kent on April 29th. He conducted many of the recordings of the D'Oyly Carte Company. In the late 1950s he recorded many of the operas with the Glyndebourne Opera. Refer the recording review section

1895: Sullivan provides incidental music to King Arthur by Joseph Comyns Carr.


1896: The Grand Duke is first performed at the Savoy on March 7th. The cast includes Walter Passmore (Rudolph), Rutland Barrington (Ludwig), Ilka von Palmay (Julia) and Florence Perry (Lisa). It runs for only 123 performances.

The Grand Duke



Ilka von Palmay as Julia Jellicoe Florence Perry as Lisa

Check out original costumes from this production.


1896: The Mikado has its second revival. This opens at the Savoy Theatre on July 11th. Rutland Barrington, Jessie Bond and Rosina Brandram are hold-overs from the original productions. Also in the cast are Walter Passmore (Koko), Scott Fische (The Mikado), Florence Perry (Yum Yum), Emmie Owen (Peep Bo) and Charles Kenningham (Nanki-Poo).



Charles Kenningham & Florence Perry Scott Fische

1896: The Mikado celebrates it's 1000th performance on October 31st. Special programmes were printed on Japanese fans and a souvenir book was especially made. This contained extracts from the libretti and scores of all the operettas.


1897: The Yeomen of the Guard has its first revival. This is at the Savoy Theatre on May 5th. Richard Temple and Rosina Brandram reprise their roles from the original. The cast also includes Walter Passmore (Jack Point), Charles Kenningham (Fairfax), Henry Lytton (Shadbolt) and Ilka von Palmay (Elsie).

Charles Kenningham

1897: Sullivan's ballet Victoria and Merrie England opens at the Alhambra Theatre on May 25th. Sullivan reuses a little of L'Ile Enchantée and the Imperial March of 1893 in the work. Sullivan is paid £2,000 plus a share in the takings.

1897: Gilbert's play The Fortune Hunter is first produced.


1898: The Gondoliers has its first revival. This is at the Savoy Theatre on March 22nd. Rosina Brandram reprises her role from the original. The cast also includes William Elton (Duke of Plaza-Toro), Charles Kenningham (Marco), Henry Lytton (Giuseppe), Louie Henri (Tessa) and Emmie Owen (Gianetta).

1898: Sullivan writes The Beauty Stone with librettists Arthur Pinero and Comyns Carr. It opens at the Savoy on May 28th.

Walter Passmore as the Devil Ruth Vincent as Laine

1898: The Gondoliers is brought back to the Savoy. This opens again on July 18th. This is with an almost identical cast to the above (March 22nd) except for Robert Evett (Marco) and Blanche Gaston Murray (Tessa).

1898: The Sorcerer has its second revival. This opens at the Savoy Theatre on September 22nd with Walter Passmore, as John Wellington Wells, Henry Lytton, as Dr. Daly, Rosina Brandram, as Lady Sangazure, Ruth Vincent, as Aline, and Emmie Owen, as Constance. Trial By Jury plays as part of a double bill. The cast includes Henry Lytton (Judge), Isabel Jay (Plaintiff), Cory James (Defendant) and Walter Passmore (Usher).

Emmie Owen

1899: H.M.S. Pinafore has its second revival. This opens on June 6th with a cast that includes Walter Passmore (Joseph Porter), Henry Lytton (Corcoran), Robert Evett (Ralph), Richard Temple (Deadeye) and Ruth Vincent (Josephine).

1899: H.M.S. Pinafore celebrates it's 1000th performance on September 16th.

1899: Sullivan writes The Rose of Persia with librettist Basil Hood. It is first performed at the Savoy Theatre on November 29th. The cast includes Henry Lytton (Sultan), Walter Passmore (Hassan), Robert Evett (Yussuf), Ellen Beach Yaw (Sultana), Jessie Rose (Scent of Lilies) and Rosina Brandram (Dancing Sunbeam). Two cast changes take place while the operetta plays. Isabel Jay replaces Ellen Beach Yaw after two weeks, and Decima Moore replaces Jessie Rose the following April.


1900: In January Sullivan is nearly killed when he falls between the platform and the footboard of a train at Crystal Palace.

1900: On May the 29th the death occurs of British musicologist Sir Charles Grove. He was first director of the Royal College of Music and founder of the Grove's Dictionary.(see entry of 1867)

1900: The Pirates of Penzance has its second (English) revival. This is at the Savoy Theatre on June 30th. The cast includes Henry Lytton (Major-General Stanley), Robert Evett (Frederic), Isabel Jay (Mabel) and Rosina Brandram (Ruth).

1900: Famous D'Oyly Carte conductor, Isidore Godfrey, is born in London on Septempber 24th. He joined the company in 1925, becoming musical director in 1929. He held that position until his retirement in 1968.

1900: Patience has its first revival. This is at the Savoy Theatre on November 7th. The cast includes Walter Passmore (Bunthorne), Robert Evett (Duke of Dunstable), Isabel Jay (Patience) and Rosina Brandram (Lady Jane).

1900: Sir Arthur Sullivan dies of heart failure on November 22nd, aged 58.
The London Times says: "The death of Sir Arthur Sullivan not only deprives England of the man who for many years has been her most conspicuous composer, but will afflict all who care for music with a keen sense of personal loss." Sullivan is buried in St. Paul's Cathedral on November 27th. The service features an anthem from The Light of the World and the hymn We are but strangers here and the anthem Brother, Thou art gone before us. All music is by Sullivan.


Last known picture of Sir Arthur Sullivan

Read the last entry in Sullivan's diary and check out his obituary in the Sydney Daily Telegraph.

1900: The death is reported in Paris of writer Oscar Wilde on November 30th. Wild's career crashed in ruins when he was convicted of homosexual offences in 1895 and sentenced to two years penal servitude.


1901: Queen Victoria dies on January 22nd at Osborne, her seaside home in the isle of Wright. She was 82 and reigned for 64 years.

1901: Richard D'Oyly Carte dies on April 3rd.

1901: Sullivan's last opera The Emerald Isle is completed by Edward German. It opens at the Savoy Theatre on April 27th. The cast includes Walter Passmore, Henry Lytton, Rosina Brandram and Lulu Evans.

Lulu Evans

1900: Iolanthe has its first revival. This is at the Savoy Theatre on December 7th. The cast includes Walter Passmore (Lord Chancellor), Robert Evett (Tolloller), Isabel Jay (Phyllis) and Rosina Brandram (Fairy Queen).


1902: Edward German's Merry England opened at the Savoy on April 2nd. It ran for 120 performances, then went on tour until November 22nd when it re-opens at the Savoy for 56 more performances. It closed on January 17th 1903.

1902: Sullivan's posthumous Te Deum is heard for the first time at St. Paul's Cathedral on June 8th.


1903: Famous D'Oyly Carte soprano, Muriel Dickson, is born in Edinburgh on July 12th. She appeared with the company from 1928 to 1935.


1904: Gilbert's domestic pantomime Harlequin and the Fairy's Dilemma opens on May 3rd


1906: The first production of Utopia Ltd in Australasia is produced at the Princess Theatre, Melbourne on January 20th. (read review)

1906: The Yeomen of the Guard has its second revival. This is at the Savoy Theatre on December 8th. The cast includes C.H. Workman (Jack Point), Paccie Ripple (Fairfax), Jessie Rose (Phoebe) and Louie René (Carruthers).

1907: The Gondoliers is revived at the Savoy, opening on January 22nd. The cast includes C.H. Workman (Duke), Pacie Ripple (Marco), Richard Green (Giuseppe), Louie Rene (Duchess) and Lilian Coomber (Gianetta).

1907: Patience has its second revival. This is at the Savoy opening on April 4th. The cast includes Frank Wilson (Colonel Calverley), C.H. Workman (Bunthorne), Louie René (Lady Jane) and Clara Dow (Patience).

1907: Iolanthe has its second revival opening at the Savoy Theatre on June 11th. The cast includes C.H. Workman (Lord Chancellor), Leo Sheffield (Willis), Henry Lytton (Strephon), Jessie Rose (Iolanthe) and Clara Dow (Phyllis).



Henry Lytton as Strephon Jessie Rose as Iolanthe



Historic Note:
It was Mrs. D'Oyly Carte's intention to revive The Mikado during the 1907 Gilbert and Sullivan season at the Savoy. However after making all the preparations to mount the opera she received a notice form the Lord Chamberlain prohibiting any performances of the work. The Mikado was deemed too offensive to Prince Fushimi who was expected shortly from Japan. This explanation was thought to be ridiculous by the press. However the opera was presented at the Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield in May. The management stated that even though they had read about the ban in the papers he had not been officially advised so had proceeded with the performances.
Anyhow a special correspondent from a leading Japanese newspaper, who was in London in connection with the Price's visit, stated that he had discovered nothing offensive in the Sheffield production which he had travelled down there to witness. Expecting the worst, he had found instead "bright music, much fun and no insults.
On August 24th to mark the close of a memorable season of revivals, the company performed special excerpts from several of the operas, including, much to the surprise of the audience, a scene from The Mikado

1907: Gilbert is knighted by King Edward VII on July 15th.


1908: The Mikado reappeared at the Savoy Theatre on April 28th. The cast includes Henry Lytton (The Mikado), C.H. Workman (Ko-Ko), Rutland Barrington (Booh-Bah), Clara Dow (Yum-Yum) and Jessi Rose (Pitti-Sing).

1908: In a revival of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern at the Lyceum Gilbert himself plays the King at a matinee


Marion Terry as the Queen and W.S.G. as the King


1908: H.M.S. Pinafore has its third revival. This opens at the Savoy Theatre on July 14th and plays alternatively with The Mikado. C.H. Workman plays Sir Joseph, Rutland Barrington is Corcoran, Henry Lytton is Dick Deadeye and Elsie Spain is Josephine.

1908: Iolanthe is revived again. This opens on October 19th and plays alternatively with The Mikado. The cast includes C.H. Workman (Lord Chancellor), Rutland Barrington (Mountararat), Leo Sheffield (Willis), Henry Lytton (Strephon) and Jessie Rose (Iolanthe).

1908: The Pirates of Penzance has its third (English) revival. This opens at the Savoy Theatre on December 1st. The cast includes C.H. Workman (Major-General Stanley), Henry Lytton (Pirate King), Rutland Barrington (Sergeant) and Dorothy Court (Mabel).


1909: The Gondoliers is revived. Opening on January 18th with a cast that includes C.H. Workman (Duke), Leo Sheffield (Luiz), Dorothy Court (Casilda) and Elsie Spain (Gianetta).

1909: The Yeomen of the Guard is revived again. This opens on March 1st. The cast includes Leo Sheffield (Sir Richard), Richard Temple (Sergeant Meryll), C.H. Workman (Jack Point) and Jessie Rose (Phoebe). This was the last time Richard Temple acted at the Savoy.

1909: Gilbert's last major work is a comic opera entitled Fallen Fairies with music by Edward German. This is based on the author's three-act comedy The Wicket World which had opened at the Haymarket Theatre in 1873. Fallen Fairies opens on December 15th and runs for 51 performances. The cast includes Leo Sheffield, C.H. Workman, Nancy McIntosh and Jessie Rose.


1911: Gilbert's one-act piece The Hooligan is produced.

1911: Sir William Gilbert dies on May 29th while trying to save to a young girl from drowning.

Newspaper News Item:
London May 30th
"The death is announced of Sir William Schwenck Gilbert, the famous writer of comedy and comic opera, at the age of 75 years.
Death occurred from heart failure while bathing.
Sir W.S. Gilbert, who had spent the day in London, returned to Harrowweald in the afternoon. A few minutes later friends found him lying dead in an open-air swimming bath in the grounds of his house, Grimsdyke, where he was teaching two children to swim.
Melbourne Argus Wednesday May 31st 1911

Gilbert in his last years


Historic Note:
On August 9th, 1911, Gilbert's will was probated. Gilbert had left £118,028, double that of Sullivans. Almost everything was left to Lucy. Relatives, friends and servants were also remembered. Such charities as the Bushey Health Cottage Hospital and the Royal General Theatrical Fund also benefited.

1912: George Grossmith passes peacefully away on March 2nd at Folkestone.

Historic Note:
George Grossmith started his life as an entertainer in 1870 appearing in the evenings at the Polytechnic Institution. He was partnered by Miss Florence Marryat for who he wrote a little comedietta called Cups and Saucers and several songs. He was soon snapped up by D'Oyly Carte for the Savoy Operas.
During his long career he wrote many many songs some of which achieved more than passing popularity. These included He Went to a Party, The Duke of Seven Dials, The Happy Fatherland and See Me Dance the Polka which gained a world-wide reputation. Apart from the Savoy Operas George also played in other pieces by Gilbert and in works written by his son.
Grossmith's last public appearance was at the Brighton Pavilion in 1908.



1913: Helen Carte, who continued her late husband's work at the Savoy and who remarried, dies as Mrs Stanley Boulter on May 5th.


1914: Savoy musical director, François Cellier, dies on January 14th.



On to the history of Richard D'Oyly Carte To the Operas