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History of the Savoyard Light Opera Company

Now located in Carlisle, the Savoyard Light Opera Company has proximate roots reaching back over 35 years to Maynard, and deeper roots reaching back to London, where the first Gilbert & Sullivan collaboration, Thespis, was produced in 1871. The present Company started in 1971, when a group of Maynard townspeople undertook a production of H.M.S. Pinafore as part of that town's centennial celebration. It was a great success and so much fun for the participants that they undertook annual productions of Gilbert & Sullivan operettas, thus initiating a tradition.

By 1980, with ten annual productions to its credit, the group formally incorporated as the Maynard Savoyards, drawing their name from the fact that the fourteen works written by Gilbert & Sullivan are known as the Savoy Operas after the operahouse built by Richard D'Oyly Carte for these charming and timeless musicals. The Savoy Theatre (next to the Savoy Hotel, both named for Savoy Manor which once stood on the site) on the Strand in London was destroyed by fire a few years ago. Happily the theatre was rebuilt and opened again in 1993, where a recently revivified D'Oyly Carte Opera Company performs from time to time.

Altogether, the Savoyard Light Opera Company has produced eleven of the G&S operettas, many of them more than once, omitting three (Thespis, Utopia Limited, and Grand Duke), each of which present difficulties that to most fans of G&S do not repay the effort of production.

In 1983 the Board changed the name from the Maynard Savoyards to the Savoyard Light Opera Company, recognizing the fact that they derive their players and audiences not only from the Maynard area but from all of eastern Massachusetts, and anticipating the possibility that the group might wish to depart from the strict canon of G&S operettas, thus infusing new blood and new musical versatility and attracting new audience members.

The anticipated departure did not actually occur until 1990, with the production of Little Mary Sunshine. A new plan - to alternate year by year G&S productions with other musicals chosen because their wit and musicality measure up to the standards set by Gilbert & Sullivan - was initiated in 1993 with Lerner & Loewe's My Fair Lady. The company has since performed The New Moon, The Most Happy Fella, Of Thee I Sing, Kiss Me Kate, The Secret Garden, Camelot, and most recently Anything Goes.

The Company espouses the ambition to produce shows of a near professional quality, featuring a full orchestra. Auditions are required of all singers, including chorus, and the Company has been fortunate in attracting some of the best talent in the area. It's tradition for excellence extends back over 35 years here in Massachusetts and, perhaps it is not too much to say, through 135 years to the masters who created so much joyful poetry and music.

-- Philip Drew

The Savoyard Light Opera Company 
Update: 06-Aug-2014