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Iolanthe Cast

Synopsis

History

 

IOLANTHE CAST

The Lord Chancellor DEREKNORTON
Earl of Mountararat VICTOR CLARKE
Earl Tolloller BRIAN BRADBURY
Private Willis (of the Grenadier Guards) GLENN PANTER
Strephon (An Arcadian Shepherd) BYRON MILLER
Queen of the Fairies DIANE NORTON
Iolanthe (A Fairy, Strephons Mother) CAROLYN CARVELL
Phyllis (An Arcadian Shepherdess and Ward in Chancery) LYNDA SMART

Fairies
Celia NICOLA HARRIS
Leila LAURA GREGORY
Fleta ANDREA CLARKE

Chorus of Fairies
DOREEN BEVAN, KATH CARTER, JAN CLARK, ANJA GOODING, ZENA GRADY, MARCIA HARRIS, JO HAYES, PAT HUMPHRIES, HELEN HURST, DEBBIE LEE, LAURA PANTER, SARAH TAYLOR, ELIZABETH TOFT, BETTY WHALLEY

Earls, Marquises, Viscounts & Barons
TOM ALLEN, PETER ASTILL, MIKE BEVAN, JOHN BOOTH, IAN FERGUSON, RALPH FOGGIN, AL GEARY, JOHN GOW, PHILLIP HERRICK, RICHARD HOPWOOD, BARRY HODBY, DON JONES, BOB KEMP, DEREK McDONALD, GLENN PANTER, FRED ROWE, ALAN STEWART

 

PRODUCTION TEAM

Director - Peter James Robinson
Musical Director - David Toft

THE STORY OF IOLANTHE (If you can believe itl)

As the curtain rises on an Arcadian landscape we discover a group of Fairies, sad at the absence of one of their number, banished 25 years ago for committing the cardinal fairy sin of marrying a mortal! They persuade their Queen to pardon Iolanthe who once again rejoins her fellow fairies. She reveals she has a son, Strephon who then appears and is elated in that he is to be married to Phyllis whom he loves dearly BUT who is unaware of Strephon's mixed parentage (half fairy, half mortal!)

Meanwhile the entire House of Lords is enamoured with Phyllis, not least her Guardian, the Lord Chancellor. The Peer's rapture over Phyllis is shortlived as she announces her intention to marry Strephon and they depart in high dudgeon but Strephon is later overheard by Phyllis and the Peers, in intimate discussion with Iolanthe. Phyllis immediately denounces him and decides she will marry either Mountararat or Tolloller.

 

Strephon calls on the aid of the fairies who send him to Parliament with the power to pass any bills he chooses including entrance to the Peerage becoming dependent on competitive examination. Act 1 ends in angry confrontation.

Act 2 finds Private Willis on guard outside the Houses of Parliament and he has some interesting things to say about MPs. The Peers ask the Fairies to return everything to normal but it is too late to stop Strephon. The Queen is shocked to find her band of Fairies so taken with the Peers and while admitting she is much taken with Private Willis, she can subdue her weakness!

Phyllis decides she doesn't really care for either of the two Earls and Strephon asks his Mother to intercede on his behalf with the Lord Chancellor. Iolanthe pleads Strephon's case but reveals she is in fact his wife! Once again Iolanthe has broken Fairy law and should die, however, by subtle sleight of hand the opera ends happily. Watch carefully to see how it's done!

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THE HISTORY OF IOLANTHE

IOLANTHE is a satire aimed at the House of Lords, written at a time when the Upper Chamber consistently obstructed liberal legislation. The humour of the opera arises from the utterly ridiculous contrast of mixing the worlds of Arcadian fairies with Westminster politics. Iolanthe brings into question the relevance of the Upper House.

Although written in 1882, 118 years later that relevance is still in question. When Sullivan was writing the music for Iolanthe his mother had just died and he was in deep grief. This seemed to influence the character of the music and the words to the ballad 'He loves' in Act 2 must have been particularly poignant for this is almost Grand Opera.

Iolanthe opened at the Savoy Theatre in November 1882…The first time a theatre was lit by electric light. The opera was originally called 'Perala' and only at the final rehearsal did Sullivan tell the Company of the change to Iolanthe. This was to rebut any copyright pirates. Lovers of Wagner will be interested to know that the part of the Fairy Queen was modelled on Wagner's Brunnhilde. (The first London Ring Cycle had been staged in May 1882, some 6 months before Iolanthe opened.)

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