Albert Kavanagh as Sigismund in A Waltz Dream

Albert Kavanagh (1890-1901, 1902-03, 1904-07, 1920)

[Born London 1866, died 1922]

Albert Kavanagh joined the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company as a chorister in the first New York production of The Gondoliers at the Park Theatre in January 1890. He moved up to the small part of Giorgio when the opera was recast at Palmer's Theatre in February, but was himself succeeded in the role by a Mr. Lince the following month. In August 1890, still in the chorus, he transferred to D'Oyly Carte Opera Company "D," presenting The Mikado and The Yeomen of the Guard until December of that year. At some point in 1891 he joined D'Oyly Carte Opera Company "C," where in May 1891 he succeeded Duncan Fleet as the Lieutenant of the Tower in Yeomen and took over Antonio in The Gondoliers from J. J. Fitzgibbon. He would play the Lieutenant until May 1892 when that role assumed by Wilson Sheffield.

Kavanagh's next named part was Nicodemus Knock-knee in Haddon Hall, with D'Oyly Carte Opera Company "B" from January 1893 to February 1894. He also played Colonel Calverley with Company "B" from July 1893 onward. In February 1894, Company "B" took up the new Savoy opera Utopia Limited exclusively, with Kavanagh as Captain Corcoran and (under the pseudonym Allen Knight) Calynx. During the first week of July, Kavanagh would fill in for William H. Kemble as Mr. Goldbury.

Later that month, Kavanagh transferred to D'Oyly Carte Opera Company "C," a repertory company, succeeding J. J. Fitzgibbon as the Usher in Trial by Jury, Archibald Grosvenor in Patience, the Earl of Mountararat in Iolanthe, and Giuseppe in The Gondoliers. In September 1894 he would switch roles in Gondoliers with Tom Redmond, assuming Luiz while Redmond took over as Giuseppe.

By January 1895 he yielded Grosvenor to Fred Billington, though he would fill in for Billington on frequent occasions in the first half of that year. Kavanagh retained the Usher, Mountararat, and Luiz throughout the year, but by January 1896 had lost the Usher and Mountararat to E. A. White. He filled in briefly for Billington that month as Grosvenor in Patience and King Hildebrand in Princess Ida.

In January 1896, Kavanagh's regular roles were Guron in Princess Ida and Luiz. After White left the Company in April 1896, Kavanagh assumed most of his parts. For the next seven months, he was Company "C"'s Usher in Trial, the Notary in The Sorcerer, Bill Bobstay in H.M.S. Pinafore, Samuel in The Pirates of Penzance, Mountararat in Iolanthe, Guron, Pish-Tush in The Mikado, the Lieutenant in Yeomen, and Luiz. In 1896, Kavanagh also filled in for White as the Usher in February, for Billington as King Hildebrand in Princess Ida and Grosvenor in January, and for Frank Holt as Florian in Princess Ida in May and July while the latter gentleman as deputizing as King Gama.

At the end of November 1896, Kavanagh left with a D'Oyly Carte company for South Africa. At first his roles were in all probability the ones he'd played in the months preceding the tour:Usher, Notary, Bobstay, Samuel, Pish-Tush, the Lieutenant, Luiz:plus Grosvenor, Strephon or Mountararat in Iolanthe, and the Herald in The Grand Duke. Shortly into the tour, however, Scott Fishe took ill, and Kavanagh moved up to the Pirate King in Pirates, Sergeant Meryll in Yeomen, Giuseppe in Gondoliers, Mr. Goldbury in Utopia, and probably Sir Marmaduke in The Sorcerer and The Mikado in The Mikado. After Fishe's departure, Kavanagh also assumed, or continued to play (it's unclear which), the Usher, Grosvenor, Mountararat, and the Herald. When the Company returned to Southport as D'Oyly Carte Opera Company "B" in July 1897, Kavanagh's roles were the Usher, Sir Marmaduke, the Pirate King, Pish-Tush, and Giuseppe.

Kavanagh then joined D'Oyly Carte Opera Company "C" the following month. Over the next four years (August 1897-September 1901) he would appear at various times as the Usher in Trial, Sir Marmaduke in Sorcerer, Bill Bobstay and Captain Corcoran in Pinafore, the Pirate King and Samuel in Pirates, Grosvenor and the Colonel in Patience, Strephon in Iolanthe, Florian in Princess Ida, Pish-Tush in Mikado, the Lieutenant and Sergeant Meryll in Yeomen, Giuseppe and Luiz in Gondoliers, Mr. Goldbury and Captain Corcoran in Utopia, and possibly the Sultan in The Rose of Persia (January-September 1901).

He appears to have left the D'Oyly Carte organization for about seven months, but returned for the April 1902-May 1903 South Africa tour, appearing there as the Usher, Doctor Daly in The Sorcerer, Dick Deadeye in Pinafore, the Sergeant of Police in Pirates, Grosvenor, Strephon, Pish-Tush and Pooh-Bah in The Mikado, Wilfred Shadbolt in Yeomen, Luiz and Don Alhambra in Gondoliers, Scaphio in Utopia, and the Sultan in The Rose of Persia.

After another break of a bit over a year, Kavanagh joined the D'Oyly Carte Principal Repertory Opera Company in July 1904. Over the next three years he appeared as the Counsel in Trial (from November 1904), Bill Bobstay, the Pirate King, the Colonel (until January 1905) and Grosvenor (from January 1905) in Patience, Strephon and (on occasion in 1904) Mountararat in Iolanthe, Arac in Princess Ida, the Mikado in The Mikado, the Lieutenant (until January 1905) and Sergeant Meryll (from January 1905) in Yeomen, and Giuseppe in The Gondoliers.

Kavanagh left the D'Oyly Carte in June 1907. He later appeared in London as Sigismund in Oscar Strauss's A Waltz Dream (Hicks Theatre, March-July 1908), and eventually went to Australia where he appeared in revivals of H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, Patience, Iolanthe, The Mikado, The Yeomen of the Guard, and The Gondoliers (Melbourne and Sydney, October-December 1914).

He eventually returned for one last engagement with the D'Oyly Carte Repertory Opera Company, appearing for a time as the Learned Judge in Trial (February-June 1920) and Bill Bobstay in Pinafore (February-October 1920). In all, Kavanagh appeared with the D'Oyly Carte organization in some thirty baritone roles, quite possibly a record. In addition to the parts named above, he also claimed to have played Private Willis in Iolanthe.

He returned to Australia for another season of Gilbert & Sullivan in the winter of 1920-21, appearing in Melbourne in Pinafore, Pirates, Iolanthe, Mikado, Yeomen, and Gondoliers.

Albert Kavanagh was married to D'Oyly Carte chorister May Billing.

Page modified August 13, 2002-03 © 2002 David Stone