Radley Flynn as Private Willis in Iolanthe

Radley Flynn (1928-51)

[Born Rochdale, Lancashire 14 Jun 1902, died Cumbria 9 Mar 1978]

Basso Leonard Radley Flynn joined the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company in July 1928, immediately assuming the small part of Giorgio in The Gondoliers. The next season (beginning July 1929) he added three additional small bass parts:Go-To in The Mikado (assumed from T. Penry Hughes), Bob Beckett in H.M.S. Pinafore, and Scynthius in Princess Ida, those two operas being restored to the repertoire. In August 1931 (Joseph Griffin having left the Company), Flynn added another role:Old Adam Goodheart in Ruddigore. On September 30 of that year he deputized for Sydney Granville as Private Willis in Iolanthe.

Flynn left the Company briefly in July 1933. He returned in April 1934 and reclaimed Scynthius, Go-To, and Giorgio with the departure of Charles Cornford. In August 1934 he took back Bob Beckett (from William Sumner, who was relegated to the chorus), and Old Adam (from Richard Watson, who had left the Company). Over the next five years he played his five roles whenever they were in the repertoire and, in addition, made frequent substitutions as Private Willis in Iolanthe, and occasional appearances as the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance, the Mikado in The Mikado, and Sir Roderick in Ruddigore.

In October 1941 he took over Private Willis from Sydney Granville, and at some point in the 1940-41 season he took over the Usher in Trial by Jury from Richard Walker who moved over to the Counsel. On November 11, 1940, Flynn married D'Oyly Carte principal contralto Ella Halman.

In September 1946, Flynn gave up Private Willis to Richard Walker. Walker also took back the Usher in Trial, Flynn moving into the jury box as the Foreman. When Walker left in the summer of 1948, Flynn was given the Usher once more, but not Willis, which went to Richard Watson, though Flynn would fill in on occasion over the next few years (1949-51). He also deputized for Watson on at least one occasion as the Lieutenant of the Tower in Yeomen (September 1949).

Flynn was also called upon to fill in for Darrell Fancourt on numerous occasions between 1946 and 1951 as the Pirate King, Dick Deadeye in H.M.S. Pinafore, the Mikado, Sir Roderick, and Sergeant Meryll in The Yeomen of the Guard.

After leaving the D'Oyly Carte in August 1951, Radley Flynn relocated to America where he and Ella Halman toured along with Martyn Green in a series of Gilbert & Sullivan productions presented by S. M. Chartock. His roles on this 1952 tour included the Usher, Bob Beckett, and Go-To. The Flynns shortly returned to England where they settled in Penrith and were involved with amateur operatic societies. He died in 1978 while fishing in the River Eden in Cumbria.

Radley Flynn may be heard in D'Oyly Carte recordings of The Mikado (as Go-To, 1936 and 1950), H.M.S. Pinafore (Bob Beckett, 1949), Trial by Jury (the Usher, 1949), The Gondoliers (Giorgio, 1950), and Ruddigore (Old Adam, 1950). He also appeared on radio as the Mikado in a 1951 BBC broadcast.

Page modified August 24, 2007 © 2001-07 David Stone