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The Gilbert and Sullivan Archive   1919-20 Season of Gilbert and Sullivan Operas


Rupert D'Oyly Carte took over the running of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company (and the Savoy Hotel) on the death of his step-mother, Helen, in 1913. He later told Leslie Baily:

When I first took over in 1913, I went and watched the Company playing at a rather dreary theatre down in the suburbs of London. I thought the dresses looked dowdy — it was Iolanthe — and I had a talk with the Wardrobe Mistress about it. I said the dresses needed perking up. She was a bit shocked. "Oh, Mr. Carte!" she declared, "they look so well!" — but she had been with the Company so many years that I began to suspect her ideas were out-of-date, especially when she told me that the chorus ladies were still being issued with red flannel knickers. I found that with constant renewal of the wardrobe the original character of the costumes had been lost and much of the colour scheme was now poorly developed. With the passing of the years changes occur in our ideas of good colour anddesign. Many of the settings seemed to me unattractive and without character by modern standards. There were, of course, many costumes that should be retaned, such as the uniforms, the Peers, Tower Warders, etc., but I formed the view that new productions should be prepared, with scenery and dresses to the design of first-class artists who understood the operas but who would produce a décor attractive to the new generation. In any case, I did not consider it practicable to reproduce accurately the original costumes. For one thing, it is hardly possible to get people (especially women) to look like those of sixty or seventy years ago — figures seem to change, so does the way of walking and moving.

During the First World War, Rupert D'Oyly Carte was on special duties with the Navy, but this did not prevent him preparing to bring the Gilbert and Sullivan operas back to the West End of London for the first time in ten years. The result was the triumphant 14 week season from 29th September 1919 to 31st January 1920 at the Prince's Theatre.

A Souvenir bochure was issued.

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