Opera Scotland

Durward Lely 2 Suggest updates

Born London, 13 September 1882.

Died c1972.

Scottish bass, stage and theatre manager.

Durward Lely jnr was the eldest of three sons of the important Scottish tenor James Durward Lyall, born in Arbroath, who had adopted the name Durward Lely when he joined the D'Oyly Carte London organization as principal tenor in 1880. His first role had been as Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance, already running at the Opera-Comique, and it was during the run of the next Gilbert and Sullivan work, Patience, that young Durward was born. A second son was born during the run of Princess Ida, and was named after the character Lely created in that piece, Cyril.

He and Cyril were educated initially in Surbiton, but as the family's prosperity increased and they bought a country house in Scotland, he finished his schooling at Fettes College in Edinburgh. The third son, William (Billy) was at Fettes throughout his senior schooling, went on to take a degree at Cambridge and played rugby for Scotland. A fourth child, a daughter, had Adelina Patti as godmother, the diva having become a friend of the family.

Young Durward's career was spent largely in theatrical management, particularly as Assistant Manager of the King's Theatre, Glasgow, and his elderly father was living at the Glasgow home at the time of his death in 1944.

Earlier, Durward jnr had worked for Carl Rosa as assistant stage manager and had performed some short roles on stage.

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