Bridget D’Oyly Carte; Savoy Operas

From Times Wire Services

Dame Bridget D’Oyly Carte, the last of the family that for 107 years presented the operettas of W. S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan, died May 2, business colleagues said. She was 77.

Dame Bridget’s death at her home in Chalfont St. Giles, 22 miles northwest of London, was announced by the directors of the Savoy Hotel, of which she was president.

The hotel was built in 1889 by her grandfather, Richard D’Oyly Carte, to accommodate visitors to his Savoy Theater where the cheerfully tuneful and gently satiric operettas were performed. He built the hotel from the profits he had realized from the operettas.

Richard D’Oyly Carte brought composer Sullivan and librettist Gilbert together in 1871. Their collaboration, which began in 1875 with “Trial by Jury,” resulted in 14 works known as the Savoy Operas.


Dame Bridget was assistant at the Savoy to her father, Rupert, from 1933 and took over the D’Oyly Carte Opera Co. when he died in 1948. In 1975 she was created a Dame of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of her service to the theater.

Although she inherited more than $1 million from her father and invaluable copyrights, the opera company, which had never been subsidized, lost almost $450,000 in 1981 and had to cancel a planned U.S. tour. Where it once produced some of the the most profitable properties in theater history, the company was forced to disband in February, 1982, after the state-funded Arts Council refused to provide financial assistance.

Hotel management said Dame Bridget had been ill, but the cause of her death was not known. Her marriage to her cousin, the fourth Earl of Cranbrook, was dissolved in 1931. They had no children.