THE GOLDEN AGE OF THEATRE (1880-1920)
Charles Courtice Pounds was born in Pimlico, London on May 30, 1862. When he was eight, he joined the choir at St. Stephen’s Church, Kensington. He then sang in the choir of the Italian Church, Hatton Garden, before studying at the Royal Academy of Music.
He joined the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company in October 1881, as a member of the chorus of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience, which opened at the Opera Comique before being transferred to the newly built Savoy Theatre. It ran for 578 performances.
In December 1882, at the end of the run, he left the Savoy to perform with a succession of D’Oyly Carte touring companies. With these, he performed not only in the provinces but also in Germany & Austria.
(signed postcard, gloss, Rotary Photo, 1195D, c.1911)
(postcard, gloss, Rotophot 0458, c. 1906
After the enormously successful opening of The Mikado at the Savoy Theatre in London, it was decided to send a second company to present the comic opera in New York. On August 19, 1885, it opened at the Fifth Avenue Theatre with Courtice Pounds playing Nanki-Poo. His performance was much acclaimed. As a result, he spent much of the next couple of years singing in D’Oyly Carte operas presented in New York and Boston. In April, 1887, when the run of Ruddygore ended, he received several offers to stay in New York. He spent the next nine moths at the Casino Theatre appearing in The Marquis and Madelon.
He returned to London in May 1888 and, in July. was offered the opportunity to create the part of Colonel Fairfax in the premiere of The Yeomen of the Guard at the Savoy, He was to stay there until September 1892, playing a string of major roles.
|The Yeoman of the Guard||Colonel Fairfax||October 3, 1888||423||D’Oyly Carte’s new tenor, Courtice Pounds, is a decided acquisition … the possessor of a charming voice and cultivated style … He acts in a spirited and unaffected fashion, which is very rarely found in tenors, and did much for the general success.|
|The Gondoliers||Marco Palmieri||December 7, 1889||554||
|The Nautch Girl||Indra||June 30, 1891||200||Miss Lenore Snyder and Mr. Courtice Pounds impersonate the lovers with much success.|
|The Vicar of Bray||Rev. Henry Sandford||January 28, 1892||143||Mr. Courtice Pounds appears to advantage as Sandford.|
|Haddon Hall||John Manners||September 24, 1892||204||Dorothy’s favoured lover is played,
over-sentimentally as usual, by Mr. Courtice Pounds, whose intonation on Saturday night was often faulty.
No doubt upset by the review he had received, Courtice Pounds left the D’Oyly Carte company in October 1892 to appear in musical comedies – Ma Mie Rosette at the Globe and Prince of Wales’s from November 1892 to February 1893, La Fille de Madame Angot at the Criterion from July to October 1893, Miami at the Princess’s in October 1893, and Wapping Old Stairs at the Vaudeville from February to April 1894.
He then returned again to the Savoy, where he stayed for another year.
|Mirette||Picorin||July 3, 1894
October 6, 1894
|Mr. Courtice Pounds has rather an unsympathetic part, but he does what he can with it.|
|The Chieftain||Count Vasquez de Gonzago||December 12, 1894||97||Mr. Courtice Pounds, as the Spanish officer, (and) Mr. Scott Fishe, as the real chieftain … are all completely adequate exponents of their parts|
|Courtice Pounds in
Gilbert & Sullivan operettas
as Colonel Fairfax in
The Yeoman of the Guard
|Courtice Pounds (left
- as Marco Palmieri)
& Rutland Barrington
(as Giuseppe) in
The Gondoliers (1889)
|Click photo to enlarge|
Four of Courtice Pounds’ sisters – Lily, Louie, Nancy, and Rosy – appeared with D’Oyly Carte Opera Company. The parts Louie Pounds played included Heart’s Desire, the romantic lead in The Rose of Persia (1899); Molly O’Grady in The Emerald Isle (1901); Christina in Ib and Little Christina (1901), and Iolanthe in the 1901 revival of Iolanthe. After the Savoy Company was disbanded in 1903, she continued to make stage appearance both in London and the provinces until 1929.
After he left the Savoy Theatre for the last time in 1895, Courtice Pounds went to Australia where he appeared in a production of The Yeomen of the Guard that opened at the Lyceum, Sydney, in February 1896.Later that year, he was back in London starring in La at the Prince of Wales’s (which ran from Christmas 1897 to September 1898).
Courtice Pounds continued to be a much loved performer in musical plays until shortly before his death. His important roles included Ali Baba in Oscar Asche’s Chu Chin Chow, a part he played for the whole five-year run from 1916 to 1921. It was, however, towards the end of his career that he achieved what was probably his greatest success - playing, in 1922, the lead part of Franz Schubert in Lilac Time, the play about the composer’s life with his music. It ran for an astonishing 628 performances.
Courtice Pounds died, at the age of 65, in Surbiton, London, on December 20, 1927.