The news came to us recently that Richard Sheldon, treasured founder of Opera a la Carte, has passed away at the age of 80. Richard was a respected proponent of Gilbert & Sullivan’s many operas, and possible most memorable as The Mikado, a role he performed for many years. The local community has reached out in force on the OALC Facebook page, where you can read comments, post your own last respects, contribute to the funds being raised to help the family with Richard’s final expenses, and get details on the memorial service to be announced (and tentatively planned for late February). Following is an obituary provided to us by one of the company’s board members, and also published in the Los Angeles Times:
Richard Sheldon (October 20, 1935 – January 6, 2016)
Richard Sheldon, once hailed as “the number one Savoyard now living in America,” died last Wednesday, after complications from a fall. Born in York, England, Sheldon was musical from an early age, entertaining shipmates while traveling between India and Africa with the British military. He enjoyed a life-long passion for the works of Gilbert and Sullivan, performing with many well-known artists from the famed D’Oyly Carte opera company. Sheldon came to America in 1965 and founded Opera A La Carte in 1970 with the goal of presenting the works of Gilbert and Sullivan as closely as possible to the original productions. The Southern California company quickly expanded and began touring the United States extensively. Sheldon’s exacting artistic standards and devotion to authenticity made Opera A La Carte productions the “genuine article.” The company remains committed to Sheldon’s vision by continuing to produce high quality Gilbert and Sullivan. Sheldon was known for his quirky wit, his irascible temper, and his extraordinary kindness to his closest friends. He is survived by his daughter Susan and grandson Wyatt, of Thornton, Colorado; and his partner of many years, Kirkland Ward.