W. H. Leon as Major Murgatroyd in Patience

W. H. Leon (1890-1901)

[Died 10 Dec 1901]

In nearly thirteen years with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company organization, bass-baritone William Henry Leon appeared in more than twenty (mostly smaller) roles. He first appeared in a D'Oyly Carte program as Giorgio in The Gondoliers with D'Oyly Carte Opera Company "C" on tour from July to December 1890. He was in London in the Savoy chorus for The Nautch Girl (June 1891-January 1892), and in all likelihood for The Vicar of Bray as well, for in September 1892 he created the part of Kill-Joy Candlemas in Haddon Hall. From June 3 to July 1, 1893, he was Michael de Vere in Mr. Jericho, companion piece with Jane Annie. He was back to the chorus for Utopia (Limited) when it opened in October 1893, but in January 1894 he filled in briefly for W. H. Denny as Scaphio. In 1893 he married D'Oyly Carte chorister Mary (or May) Roney.

Leon went back on tour later in 1894, appearing as Scaphio with Carte's Company "A" from July to December that year. He then had tours with Company "D" (as Jose in The Chieftain, December 1894-April 1895), and Company "B" (April 1895-December 1896 as Dick Deadeye in H.M.S. Pinafore, the Mikado and perhaps (on occasion) Pooh-Bah in The Mikado, Don Alhambra in The Gondoliers, Sergeant Meryll in The Yeomen of the Guard, the Herald in The Grand Duke (through November), Tommy Merton in The Vicar of Bray, and possibly a role in The Chieftain). In December 1896 he reportedly transferred briefly to Company "C" as Private Willis in Iolanthe, the Mikado, and Sergeant Meryll, but was back with Company "B" again before the end of the month.

From December 1896 to July 1897 he toured with Company "B" (from March 1897, called Company "C") as Private Willis, the Mikado (until May), Pooh-Bah (from May forward), Sergeant Meryll, the Herald (December only), and Vincentio in His Majesty. In August 1897 Leon transferred to the new Company "B" (the one just returned from South Africa), appearing as the Earl of Mountararat in Iolanthe, the Mikado, Sergeant Meryll, Vincentio (until September), the Usher in Trial by Jury (from October), the Notary in The Sorcerer (from October), and (from March 1898) Samuel in The Pirates of Penzance. Company "B" was disbanded in June 1898, and Leon joined Company "C" in July, where he toured as the Counsel to the Plaintiff in Trial by Jury, the Notary in The Sorcerer, Bill Bobstay in H.M.S. Pinafore, Samuel, Mr. Bunthorne's Solicitor in Patience, Guron in Princess Ida, the Mikado, Sergeant Meryll, Antonio in The Gondoliers, and Scaphio in Utopia Limited until January 1899.

From February to May 1899 he toured in The Lucky Star with D'Oyly Carte Opera Company "D":first as Sirocco, then (from April) as Kedas. In June 1899 he returned to the Savoy, appearing in the second London revival of H.M.S. Pinafore as Bill Bobstay, and also filling in in August and September as the Learned Judge in Trial by Jury.

Leon would remain at the Savoy until his untimely death (at the age of 34) in December 1901. During that time he created the role of the Grand Vizier in The Rose of Persia (November 1899-June 1900), appeared as Samuel and Major Murgatroyd in the revivals of The Pirates of Penzance (June-November 1900) and Patience (November 1900-April 1901), played Karl in The Outpost (curtain raiser for both Pirates and Patience), and created the parts of Black Dan in The Emerald Isle (April-November 1901) and Fo Fum in The Willow Pattern (November-December 1901).

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