Savoy Theatre

Savoy Theatre
1881 Savoy Theatre.jpg
Original façade of the Savoy Theatre, 1881
Savoy Theatre is located in Central London
Savoy Theatre
Savoy Theatre
Location within Central London
AddressSavoy Court, Strand
London, WC2
Coordinates51°30′36″N 0°07′15″W / 51°30′36″N 0°07′15″W / 51.5101; -0.1209
  • 1929 (Frank A. Tugwell)
  • 1993 (William Whitfield)

The Savoy Theatre is a West End theatre in the Strand in the City of Westminster, London, England. The theatre opened on 10 October 1881 and was built by Richard D'Oyly Carte on the site of the old Savoy Palace as a showcase for the popular series of comic operas of Gilbert and Sullivan, which became known as the Savoy operas as a result.

The theatre was the first public building in the world to be lit entirely by electricity. For many years, the Savoy Theatre was the home of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, which continued to be run by the Carte family for over a century. Richard's son Rupert D'Oyly Carte rebuilt and modernised the theatre in 1929, and it was rebuilt again in 1993 following a fire. It is a Grade II* listed building.

In addition to The Mikado and other famous Gilbert and Sullivan premières, the theatre has hosted such premières as the first public performance in England of Oscar Wilde's Salome (1931) and Noël Coward's Blithe Spirit (1941). In recent years it has presented opera, Shakespeare and other non-musical plays, and musicals.

History of the site

The House of Savoy was the ruling family of Savoy descended from Humbert I, Count of Sabaudia (or "Maurienne"), who became count in 1032. The name Sabaudia evolved into "Savoy" (or "Savoie"). Count Peter (or Piers or Piero) of Savoy (d. 1268) was the maternal uncle of Eleanor of Provence, queen-consort of Henry III of England, and came with her to London.[1]

The Savoy Palace

King Henry made Peter Earl of Richmond and, in 1246, gave him the land between The Strand and the Thames where Peter built the Savoy Palace in 1263. On Peter's death, the Savoy was given to Edmund, 1st Earl of Lancaster, by his mother, Queen Eleanor. Edmund's great-granddaughter, Blanche, inherited the site. Her husband, John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, built a magnificent palace that was burned down by Wat Tyler's followers in the Peasants' Revolt of 1381. King Richard II was still a child, and his uncle John of Gaunt was the power behind the throne and so a main target of the rebels.[1]

In about 1505 Henry VII planned a great hospital for "pouer, nedie people", leaving money and instructions for it in his will. The hospital was built in the palace ruins and was licensed in 1512. Drawings show that it was a magnificent building, with a dormitory, dining hall and three chapels. Henry VII's hospital lasted for two centuries but suffered from poor management. The sixteenth-century historian John Stow noted that the hospital was being misused by "loiterers, vagabonds and strumpets". In 1702 the hospital was dissolved, and the hospital buildings were used for other purposes. Part of the old palace was used for a military prison in the eighteenth century. In the nineteenth century, the old hospital buildings were demolished and new buildings erected.[1]

In 1864 a fire burned everything except the stone walls and the Savoy Chapel, and the property sat empty until Richard D'Oyly Carte bought it in 1880 to build the Savoy Theatre specifically for the production of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas that he was producing.[2] The new theatre was built speedily, and accounts noted that it "was situated on a site which, though rich in historical associations, was also rich in the olfactory sense, Mr Rimmel's scent factory being close by as was Burgess's Noted Fish-Sauce Shop."[3]

Other Languages
العربية: مسرح سافوي
català: Savoy Theatre
Deutsch: Savoy Theatre
español: Teatro Savoy
français: Savoy Theatre
한국어: 사보이 극장
Bahasa Indonesia: Savoy Theatre
italiano: Savoy Theatre
português: Savoy Theatre
русский: Театр Савой