'Respectable Capers’

: Class, Respectability and the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company 1877-1909

  • Michael Stephen Goron

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

This thesis will demonstrate ways in which late Victorian social and cultural attitudes influenced the development and work of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, and the early professional production and performance of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas. The underlying enquiry concerns the extent to which the D’Oyly Carte Opera organisation and its work relate to an ideology, or collective mentalité, maintained and advocated by the Victorian middle-classes. The thesis will argue that a need to reflect bourgeois notions of respectability, status and gender influenced the practices of a theatrical organisation whose success depended on making large-scale musical theatre palatable to ‘respectable’ Victorians. It will examine ways in which managerial regulation of employees was imposed to contribute to both a brand image and a commercial product which matched the ethical values and tastes of the target audience. The establishment of a company performance style will be shown to have evolved from behavioural practices derived from the absorption and representation of shared cultural outlooks. The working lives and professional preoccupations of authors, managers and performers will be investigated to demonstrate how the attitudes and working lives of Savoy personnel exemplified concerns typical to many West End theatre practitioners of the period, such as the drive towards social acceptability and the recognition of theatre work as a valid professional pursuit, particularly for women. The notion of a
‘circularity of influence’, in which cultural production is regarded as both a result and a reinforcement of ideology, will be proposed to explain the cultural ubiquity of the Savoy Operas in the middle-class consciousness, during and after their initial West End success.
Date of Award31 Oct 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Winchester
SupervisorMillie Taylor (Supervisor), Roger Richardson (Supervisor) & Stevie Simkin (Supervisor)

Cite this

'Respectable Capers’: Class, Respectability and the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company 1877-1909
Goron, M. S. (Author). 31 Oct 2014

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis