Representing the vision of British impresario, Richard D'Oyly Carte (1844-1901), the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company was launched after Carte split from the Comedy Opera Company in July 1879. In the more than one hundred and twenty years since, the group has continued to build on its standing among the greatest interpreters of operettas by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. Managed by Carte until his death in 1901, his widow and long-time assistant, Helen Lenoir assumed leadership until hew own passing in 1913.
Although financial difficulties caused it to close in 1982, The D'Oyly Carte Opera Company was reorganized after inheriting one million pounds, from Dame Bridget, three years later. Resuming their schedule with national-touring productions of Iolanthe and The Yeomen Of The Guard in 1988, they've remained active, presenting new productions of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates Of Penzance, The Mikado, Trial By Jury, H.M.S. Pinafore and The Gondolas. Presenting their first non-Gilbert and Sullivan show in 1993, they've gone on to present Jacque Offenbach's , Orpheus In The Underworld and La Vie Parisienne, Johann Strauss's Die Fladermaus and Franz Lehar's The Count of Luxembourg.
The son of Richard Carte, a flute player and partner in the music publishing and instrument company, Rudall, Carte and Company, Carte left school, in 1861, to devote himself to music. Although he composed and published songs and instrumentals, including the opera, Dr. Ambrosias: His Secret, which premiered at St. George's Opera House in 1868, he found his greatest success behind the scenes. Launching a concert booking agency in Charing Cross, he oversaw the careers of such British artists as Carlotti Patti, Adelina Patti and Edward Lloyd.
Suggesting that the Royalty Theater present Gilbert and Sullivan's Trial By Fire, in 1875, Carte began a long affiliation with the British composers. Forming a syndicate with directors of the Comedy-Opera Company, Ltd., he presented H.M.S. Pinafore, in 1878, at the Opera Comique and national tour. After splitting with the syndicate, he began to credit the production, featuring the same cast, to Mr. D'Oyly Carte's Opera Company.
Although the directors attempted to stage a rival production, they withdrew their competition within three months. Securing the rights to Gilbert and Sullivan's work, the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company settled into the Savoy Theatre, the first London theatre with electric lighting, where they remained until 1982.
Carte's relationship with Gilbert and Sullivan made him a fortune. Upon his death, in 1901, he left nearly one quarter of a million pounds, twice what Gilbert and four times what Sullivan were worth when they died.
Based in the British Midlands for most of the 1990s, the D'oyly Carte Opera Company returned to London in 1998. They continue to serve a residency in Kennington, South London.