'D'Oyly Carte: Inside Out' is the sequel to Roberta Morrell's book about the iconic D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, 'D'Oyly Carte: The Inside Story', in which she details the working life of the last great touring repertory company from 1950 to the company's much-lamented demise in 1982. Using anecdotes from company performers and staff, her humorous, but informative account of life on tour has been widely-acclaimed by lovers of Gilbert and Sullivan around the world.
This time, Roberta explores the external pressures on artists and back-stage personnel already having to deal with the demands of being on the road for forty-eight weeks every year, performing eight shows a week, be they in the UK, North America, or the Antipodes. From the over-zealous attention of adoring fans, to scathing treatment from theatre critics and the impact of touring on family life, it is a wonder that D'Oyly Carte performers managed to survive the job at all, let alone find time to have fun. Yet survive they did, some stalwarts remaining with the iconic G&S company for more than a quarter of a century.
Tales of the old days travelling by train from town-to-town, Atlantic crossings and lengthy flights to America surrounded by scenery mingle with personal stories of camaraderie which typify the spirit of an opera company like no other. Larger-than-life characters leap out of every page, entertaining the reader with their exploits on and off the stage. Some, now in their nineties, relive their past exploits with a zest and enthusiasm that springs from a true love of their D'Oyly Carte careers. It was a unique theatrical institution for more than a hundred years, loved by a loyal army of devotees which included Queen Victoria. That it has gone forever seems unthinkable - but has it?