Opera Scotland

Olive Gilbert Suggest updates

Olive Sarah Gilbert.

Born Carmarthen, 22 November 1898.

Died Hove, 19 February 1981.

Welsh contralto.

Olive Gilbert began her career with the Carl Rosa Company, first in the chorus, before graduating to leading parts. Her roles included Carmen, Amneris, Suzuki and Delilah. She toured the country for several years through the twenties, with London seasons at Covent Garden, and the Lyceum and Strand theatres.

Ivor Novello heard her as Fricka in The Valkyrie, and two years later asked her to join the cast of his new show Glamorous Night at Drury Lane (1935). This was the beginning of a long and successful association. She played in every Novello musical, including Careless Rapture (1936), Crest of the Wave (1937) and The Dancing Years (1939), all at Drury Lane. Arc de Triomphe opened at the Phoenix (1943) and Perchance to Dream at the Hippodrome (1945). In this she had a particularly successful hit song in 'We'll Gather Lilacs'. The last Novello show, King's Rhapsody, followed at the Palace Theatre (1949).

In March 1946 she accompanied Ivor Novello and a company of twenty-two on a flying visit to Germany, where they were the first artistes to entertain the troops in that country after the war. She later made two tours of South Africa, in King's Rhapsody and Perchance to Dream. She toured Britain in The Dancing Years on Ice, which opened at Edinburgh's Murrayfield Ice Rink in May 1955. She also appeared in many concerts.

In May 1961 she began a five-year run back at the Palace Theatre in the London cast of The Sound of Music as the Mistress of Postulants, Sister Margaretta. She also worked on a later West End show at the Piccadilly Theatre, as the Housekeeper in the musical The Man of La Mancha.

(Compiled from programme notes and obituaries)

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