D'Oyly Carte: The Last Night

D'Oyly Carte Opera Company
D'Oyly Carte Orchestra

February 27, 1982

Alexander Faris, musical director

Fraser Goulding,
assoc. m.d.
David Mackie,
assoc. conductor

Musical Heritage Society MHS-834948W
Musical Heritage Society MHS-834948W
Interfusion L 60007/8
Interfusion L 60007/8

I defy any true G&S fan to listen to this recording without, as Jack Point did, shedding "a tear or two." This is, of course, the transcription of the old D'Oyly Carte Opera Company's final stage performance, on February 27, 1982, at London's Adelphi Theatre. It had become traditional for the Company to do something offbeat to close its London seasons, but this was the King of Last Nights.

The program consists of selections from all the operas, in the order of composition, bracketed by the Yeomen overture to start the evening, and the finales of The Mikado and The Gondoliers to end it. Reviews of individual numbers are pointless here, so I'll just list the selections. Those items noted with an asterisk were omitted on the Castle Communications CD re-issue. (The Sounds on CD re-issue is complete.)

The London Town Crier
[*] Overture
Cox & Box
[*] "Rataplan" (Meston Reid, Clive Harre, Peter Lyon)
[*] "Climbing over Rocky Mountain" (Ladies' Chorus)
Trial By Jury
The Judge's Song (John Reed)
The Sorcerer
[*] Dr. Daly's Song (Kenneth Sandford)
[*] "Dear friends, take pity on my lot" (Lorraine Daniels, Bruce Graham)
[*] "Oh marvellous illusion" (Full Company)
H.M.S. Pinafore
"I am the monarch of the sea" / "When I was a lad" (James Conroy-Ward)
"Ring the merry bells" [sic] (Vivian Tierney, Clive Harre, James Conroy-Ward)
The Pirates of Penzance
"I am the very model of a modern Major-General" (Alistair Donkin)
"Poor wand'ring one" (Vivian Tierney)
[*] "Silvered is the raven hair" (Patricia Leonard)
[*] "I cannot tell what this love may be" (Jill Washington)
[*] "If Saphir I choose to marry" (Lorraine Daniels, Patricia Leonard, Geoffrey Shovelton, James Conroy-Ward, John Ayldon)
[*] The Magnet and the Churn (Kenneth Sandford)
[*] "So go to him and say to him" (John Reed, Patricia Leonard)
The Entrance of the Peers (Gentlemen's Chorus)
"In for a penny, in for a pound" (John Reed, Geoffrey Shovelton, John Ayldon)
Finale of Act I (Full Chorus)
Princess Ida
The Kissing Song (Geoffrey Shovelton)
"I am a maiden" (Meston Reid, Geoffrey Shovelton, Clive Harre)
"The world is but a broken toy" (Vivian Tierney, Meston Reid, Geoffrey Shovelton, John Ayldon)
"Now, wouldn't you like to rule the roast" (Beti Lloyd-Jones, Lorraine Daniels)
The Mikado
"Our great Mikado" (Peter Lyon)
"Three little maids" (Vivian Tierney, Roberta Morrell, Lorraine Daniels)
[*] Mad Margaret's Song (Lorraine Daniels)
[*] "I once was a very abandoned person" (Kenneth Sandford, Lorraine Daniels)
Matter Trio (Peter Lyon, Lorraine Daniels, Kenneth Sandford)
"Ghosts High Noon" (John Ayldon)
"When the buds are blossoming" (Full Company)
The Yeomen of the Guard
"Cock and Bull" (James Conroy-Ward, Kenneth Sandford)
"A man who would woo a fair maid" (Geoffrey Shovelton, Jane Stanford, Lorraine Daniels)
Finale of Act I (Full Company)
The Gondoliers
"Take a pair of sparkling eyes" (Meston Reid)
"We're called gondolieri" (Meston Reid, Peter Lyon)
Gavotte (James Conroy-Ward, Vivian Tierney, Patricia Leonard, Meston Reid, Peter Lyon)
Utopia, Limited
[*] "A wonderful joy our eyes to bless" (Clive Harre)
[*] "Dole Queue" [sic] (Ladies Chorus)
The Grand Duke
[*] "Come, bumpers" (Patricia Leonard)
[*] "Prety Lisa" (Kenneth Sandford, Lorraine Daniels)
Roulette Song (John Ayldon)
Utopia, Limited
[*] "Eagle High" (Full Company)
The Mikado
Finale, Act II (Full Company)
The Gondoliers
"We leave you with feelings of pleasure" (Full Company)

The number "Dole Queue" was mislabeled in the original liner notes as being from Utopia, Limited. In fact, it is an a capella take-off on "In a doleful train" (from Patience), in which the ladies chorus sing about being "on the dole" (after they lose their jobs).

Ian Bond has pointed out that the Company actually gave one more performance — the next evening on BBC Television in Melvyn Bragg's South Bank Show, performing excerpts from Pinafore, and "bewailing their fate most eloquently." Says Ian, "I well remember Jill Pert's comment, 'why should Papp's Pirates receive thousands in funding when D'Oyly Carte isn't given a penny?'"

On the occasion of the Sounds on CD re-issue, Chris Webster had the following comments:

Sounds on CD VGS255
Sounds on CD VGS255

What an occasion — the unfairly enforced very final performance of a magnificent old company with an unstained 107 year history!! Emotions were high on both sides of the house, and the concert that took place on the evening of 27th February 1982 is one which will forever stay in the minds of those who were present. The evening was officially recorded, and most of it issued on LP but this CD issue (enhanced from the production master tapes) now offers a greatly improved quality of sound over the LP issue, though regrettably the slightly edited production master is now all that can be located —alas, it seems that only this version was saved, and the cut items (mainly introductions and speeches) may possibly be lost forever. However there is still much atmosphere and talent to enjoy in this set, which runs at 2 hours 20 minutes, and all the favourites of the final season are here on top live form — John Reed, Kenneth Sandford, John Ayldon, Meston Reid, Geoffrey Shovelton, James Conroy-Ward, Alistair Donkin, Patricia Leonard, Lorraine Daniels, Vivian Tierney, Jill Washington, and many more…led by conductors Fraser Goulding and Alexander Faris.

This set includes items from the entire canon, from Cox, Thespis and Trial to The Grand Duke, and comes with a 16-page book giving full track and cast details, and which reproduces Dame Bridget D'Oyly Carte's accompanying note to the LP release, John Reed's splendid and emotional article 'Goodbye, dear D'Oyly Carte' written for the first American release, Anthony Williams' descriptive article of the events of the evening, and a newly commissioned article by Ian Belsey reflecting on the emotion of the evening from 'our' side of the footlights.

The Australia/New Zealand release (on two LPs or cassettes) had a completely different running order and didn't include all the items. Mel Moratti described it as follows:

Side 1Side 2
  • Intro
  • Yeomen: 4 excerpts
  • Sorcerer: 3 excerpts
  • Trial: 1 excerpt
  • Pirates: 2 excerpts (audience participating in the "Poor Wandring One" encore a hoot)
  • HMS Pinafore: 3 excerpts
  • Patience: 4 excerpts
Side 3Side 4
  • Iolanthe: 3 excerpts
  • Grand Duke: 1 excerpt
  • Utopia: 2 excerpts
  • Ida: 4 excerpts
  • Ruddigore: 3 excerpts
  • Mikado: 3 excerpts (including the Act 2 finale)
  • Gondoliers: 4 excerpts
Issue History
1982 Promotional Music Ltd Stereo LP DCLN 1 Three LPs, apparently a limited edition sold only by mail
RCS 1082 Three LPs
MusicMasters Stereo LP MM20079/80/81
198-? Musical Heritage Society Stereo LP MHS 834948W Three LPs
Cassette MHC 226948F Two Cassettes
198-? Interfusion Stereo LP L60007/8 Australia/New Zealand release, "under license from Festival Records Pty Limited," on two LPs or cassettes. There are numerous omissions, detailed by Mel Moratti above, and not the same ones as indicated above for the Castle Communications CD.
Cassette C60007/8
???? Castle Communications CD CCSCD 228 One CD, titled "D'Oyly Carte: The Collection", with numerous items missing
Sounds on CD 2005 CD VGS254