Frederick Hobbs (singer)

Hobbs (left) as the Pirate King, in 1919 Pirates, with James Hay (Frederic) and Bertha Lewis (Ruth)

Frederick Henry Hobbs (29 July 1874 – 11 April 1942) was a New Zealand-born singer, actor and theatre manager. After performing as a concert singer in New Zealand and Australia and in opera and musicals in Britain, he joined the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company in 1914. There he played the baritone and bass-baritone roles of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas for six years. After touring in Australasia with the J. C. Williamson company, he returned to England and became the stage manager for D'Oyly Carte in 1923 and its business manager from 1927 until his death.

Early yearsEdit

Hobbs was born in Christchurch, New Zealand, to a large family with a background in music.[1] His parents were Fred Hobbs, who was Mayor of Christchurch 1874–1877, and Elizabeth (Bessie) Hobbs, née Murray.[2] He had eight brothers and three sisters.[3][4]

He trained as a singer and, early in his career, he received concert engagements throughout Australia and New Zealand. After moving to England in his twenties, he studied at the Guildhall School of Music[1] and joined the Carl Rosa Opera Company, with whom he first appeared at the Grand Theatre in Islington.[5] He later toured in Great Britain and South Africa in Edwardian musical comedies.[6]

D'Oyly Carte principalEdit

Hobbs joined the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company in 1914, taking over many of the roles played by the departing Sydney Granville, including Colonel Calverley in Patience, Lord Mountararat in Iolanthe, Arac in Princess Ida, Pish-Tush in The Mikado, Richard Cholmondeley in The Yeomen of the Guard and Luiz in The Gondoliers. He soon added to his repertory the parts of Counsel to the Plaintiff in Trial by Jury, the Boatswain in H.M.S. Pinafore, and Samuel in The Pirates of Penzance. In 1916, he was given the role of Sir Marmaduke Pointdextre in the company's new production of The Sorcerer, giving up Luiz. Later that year, he swapped some of his smaller roles for larger ones: the Boatswain for Dick Deadeye in Pinafore, Samuel for the Pirate King in Pirates and Cholmondeley for Sergeant Meryll in Yeomen.[6] He also continued to play Colonel Calverley, Mountararat, Arac and Pish-Tush, while adding Giuseppe in The Gondoliers and relinquishing the Counsel.[7] His last new role, in 1918, was the title role in The Mikado. When D'Oyly Carte returned to the West End in London for its 1919-20 season, after 10 years on tour, Hobbs played Sir Marmaduke, Dick Deadeye, the Pirate King, the Colonel, Mountararat, Arac, The Mikado, Sergeant Meryll and Giuseppe.[8] The Times called his Pirate King "terrific".[9]

Later yearsEdit

Hobbs left the D'Oyly Carte company soon after it hired Darrell Fancourt in 1920. Hobbs then travelled to Australia, where he toured with the J. C. Williamson company in the Gilbert and Sullivan operas until 1921. In 1922, he was back in England, where he participated in a D'Oyly Carte recording of Pinafore, singing the part of Dick Deadeye in "Carefully on tiptoe stealing". That was the only recording he is known to have made.[6]

Beginning in 1923, Hobbs moved backstage as stage manager of the D'Oyly Carte. In 1927, he became the company's business manager and served in that role until his death.[10] Hobbs was married to Doris Cameron, a soprano who joined the D'Oyly Carte during his tenure there as a performer.[11]

Despite ill health, Hobbs travelled with the Company in 1942.[6] He fell ill and died in a nursing home in Norwich while on that tour, at the age of 67.[5]


  1. ^ a b "Obituary: Mr. F. H. Hobbs", The Evening Post, Vol. CXXXIII, Issue 128, 2 June 1942, p. 3, accessed 15 April 2013
  2. ^ "Married", The Press, Volume X, Issue 1143, 7 July 1866, p. 2, accessed 17 April 2013
  3. ^ The Cyclopedia of New Zealand (Canterbury Provincial District), chapter: "Ex Mayors", Cyclopedia Company Limited: Christchurch (1903), accessed 17 April 2013
  4. ^ Byrne, Jude. Family Group – Hobbs, Jude's Genealogy Page, accessed 17 April 2013
  5. ^ a b The Times, 13 April 1942, p. 6
  6. ^ a b c d Stone, David. "Frederick Hobbs", Who Was Who in the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, 25 October 2002, accessed 11 April 2013
  7. ^ Taylor, Roy. "Frederick Hobbs", Memories of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, accessed 11 January 2009
  8. ^ Ayre, p. 160
  9. ^ "Two Gilbert-Sullivan Revivals. Brilliant Singing at Princes Theatre", The Times, 7 January 1920, p. 10
  10. ^ Wilson and Lloyd, p. 110
  11. ^ Stone, David. "Doris Cameron", Who Was Who in the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, 27 January 2004, accessed 11 January 2010


  • Ayre, Leslie (1972). The Gilbert & Sullivan Companion. London: W.H. Allen & Co Ltd.
  • Rollins, Cyril; R. John Witts (1961). The D'Oyly Carte Opera Company in Gilbert and Sullivan Operas. London: Michael Joseph, Ltd.
  • Wilson, Robin; Frederic Lloyd (1984). Gilbert & Sullivan – The Official D'Oyly Carte Picture History. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.

External linksEdit