Charles Goulding as Richard Dauntless in Ruddigore

Charles Goulding (1919-36)

[Born Ireland 2 Jul 1887, died 9 Nov 1939]

Charles Eric Goulding began his musical career at the early age of eight as a choirboy in St. Mary Redcliffe in Bristol, and sang as a youth at Colston Hall with Dame Clara Butt and Charles Santley in one of the Triennial Festivals. He later performed with the Royal Orpheus Glee Club and the Bristol Amateur Operatic Society.

After serving in the Army in World War I (and being wounded several times), Goulding joined the D'Oyly Carte Repertory Opera Company as a chorister in April 1919. He appeared briefly as Nanki-Poo in The Mikado, Colonel Fairfax in The Yeomen of the Guard, and Marco in The Gondoliers (July-August 1919), before joining the D'Oyly Carte "New" Opera Company for its debut in September. With the "New" Company he would be their principal tenor:appearing as Nanki-Poo, Fairfax, Earl Tolloller in Iolanthe, and Marco in The Gondoliers, until May 1920 when he swapped Tolloller for the baritone part of Strephon.

He continued with the "New" Company as Strephon, Nanki-Poo, Fairfax, and Marco though the 1920-21 season, and when The Pirates of Penzance replaced The Mikado in the repertoire in June 1921 he assumed the role of Frederic in the new opera.

In July 1923 he joined the main (Repertory) Company, as one of two principal tenors. His roles during the 1923-24 season were Mr. Box in Cox and Box (shared with Leo Darnton), Alexis in The Sorcerer, Frederic in Pirates, Tolloller in Iolanthe, Prince Hilarion in Princess Ida, Richard Dauntless in Ruddigore (shared with Darnton), Fairfax in The Yeomen of the Guard, and Marco in The Gondoliers. When Sidney Pointer joined the Company as its third lead tenor in October 1923, Goulding began to share Tolloller, Fairfax, and Marco with him, eventually losing the parts altogether.

Darnton left at the end of the 1923-24 season, and Goulding then took over several of his roles. He played Box, Frederic, the Duke of Dunstable in Patience, Hilarion, Nanki-Poo, and Dick Dauntless through the 1924-25 and 1925-26 seasons, though he shared Frederic, as well as Ralph Rackstraw in H.M.S. Pinafore, with Pointer during the latter campaign.

Pointer left at the end of the season (June 1926), and Goulding took on a greater workload, appearing during the 1926-27 season as the Defendant in Trial by Jury, Ralph, Frederic, the Duke in Patience, Tolloller, Hilarion, Nanki-Poo, Dick Dauntless, Fairfax, and Marco. At the beginning he shared the Defendant, Tolloller, and Nanki-Poo with David Grundy, but Grundy left in December 1926 and Goulding was on his own until June 1927 when the closure of the "New" Company brought some relief with the transfer of Ellis Vizard who during the last month appeared with some regularity as the Frederic, the Duke, Tolloller, and Richard, and occasionally as Marco.

For the 1927-28 season, Goulding worked as Ralph, Frederic, Hilarion, Nanki-Poo, Richard (shared with Vizard), Fairfax, and Marco, and in 1928-29 he had all the tenor leads in the full length operas (Frederic, Duke, Tolloller, Nanki-Poo, Richard, and Marco).

In July 1929, Goulding began the season as the principal tenor, but Derek Oldham returned from August 1929 to January 1930, and David Grundy rejoined the Company when Oldham left. During the season, Goulding played every tenor lead:Box, the Defendant, Alexis in The Sorcerer, Ralph, Frederic, the Duke, Tolloller, Hilarion, Nanki-Poo, Richard, Fairfax, and Marco. But when Oldham was with the Company, Goulding yielded Ralph, Frederic, Hilarion (taking Cyril instead), Nanki-Poo, Fairfax, Marco, and a share of Tolloller to him. When Grundy replaced Oldham in the lineup, Goulding reclaimed Frederic, Hilarion, Fairfax, and Marco. He probably shared Ralph and Nanki-Poo with Grundy. The Defendant was played at various times during the year by Goulding, Grundy, and John Dean.

Goulding's roles in the 1930-31 season were Alexis, Ralph, Frederic, the Duke, Hilarion, Nanki-Poo (shared first with Grundy, later with Dean), Richard, Fairfax, and Marco. He kept the same roles (except Alexis, The Sorcerer having been dropped) in 1931-32. In 1933-34 he yielded Frederic to Dean, but reclaimed Alexis when The Sorcerer was revived in December 1933. It was Alexis, Ralph, the Duke, Hilarion, Nanki-Poo, Richard, Fairfax, and Marco again in 1933-34.

But in September 1934, when the Company traveled to New York, Goulding was not with them. Martin Beck, the manager of the New York theatre bearing his name, insisted that Derek Oldham be engaged for the tenor roles and the D'Oyly Carte obliged. Goulding eventually rejoined the Company in February 1935, when he replaced Oldham and completed the North American tour, again as tenor lead in all the full length operas except Pirates and Iolanthe. The next season, John Dean took over as Ralph and the Duke, and Goulding was left with Hilarion, Nanki-Poo, Richard, Fairfax, and Marco (with an occasional substitution as Frederic). During May 1936 Hilarion was taken by Oldham for a brief engagement.

The 1936-37 season was to begin with another 18 weeks at the Martin Beck. Once more New York management insisted on Oldham, and this time the favorite was engaged for the entire 32-week American tour. It was all too much for Goulding who resigned from the Company in June 1936.

Oldham was also the favorite of HMV, and although the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company recorded 16 albums between 1924 and 1935, Goulding is heard on only two:the 1930 H.M.S. Pinafore as Ralph, and the 1932 Princess Ida as Cyril (Oldham, of course, was Hilarion). Goulding also sang the part of Nanki-Poo in a 1926 BBC radio broadcast of The Mikado, and Mr. Box in a 1929 BBC radio broadcast of Cox and Box. He may be seen as Nanki-Poo, albeit briefly, in a four-minute silent promotional film made of the D'Oyly Carte Mikado in 1926.

After he left the Company, Charles Goulding taught singing and gave a number of Gilbert & Sullivan recitals. He also produced G&S operas with amateur companies, and often attended Gilbert & Sullivan Society functions.

For further details on Charles Goulding's life and career, see Tony Joseph's booklet "Charles Goulding, Bristol Tenor," published by the author's own Bunthorne Books, Bristol, in 2001.

Page modified September 16, 2017 © 2002-17 David Stone