Gilbert and Sullivan Archive



Stephen B. Sullivan: Fold Your Flapping Wings. Should it be performed? Where can you get orchestration? I know this was beat to death recently but I would like to have it in the OOTW.

Marc Shepherd: I love this song. I've seen at least three IOLANTHEs that included it, maybe more, and with a good performance it always brings a lump to my throat. This is surely as close to the bone Gilbert ever got in dark social commentary (surely more pointed than anything in UTOPIA LIMITED).

Does it belong in the opera? I think so. One poster felt that it injures the pacing, but this is NOT the reason why G&S cut it. Rather, some reviewers found the satire a little TOO truthful for a supposedly comic opera. Leaving it out TODAY is like refusing to revive the ghosts in RUDDIGORE just because the original audiences were too squeamish to accept the concept.

Arthur Robinson: I find "Fold Your Flapping Wings" interesting, and am glad to have a recording of it at last, but I think G&S were wise to cut it. It's good social commentary but out-of-place dramatically. One thing I like about IOLANTHE is that it has three consecutive fast-paced songs in Act II--the Nightmare Song (I think that can safely be called fast-paced?), If You Go In, and If We're Weak Enough--and somehow this makes the next song, "He loves," even more effective. In fact, I think that having "None shall part us" (good as it is) instead of "If we're weak enough" in Act II would also have weakened the impact of "He loves."

Fraser Charlton: Realizing that this OOTW is about to end, I thought that I'd better introduce what, I think, is an important subject for archiving - should Strephon's Act 2 song be restored?

A number of people (such as Bruce Miller, for one) have done shows with it in, and like it. Others don't. Having never sat in the audience when it has been performed, I'm not sure. I find it a rather dull tune, certainly not up to the standard of the rest of the score, although not without charm. The lyrics are pretty good, and pretty serious and satirical, which I worry may damage the 'neverland' atmosphere of the rest of the act. Or perhaps it acts as a pleasing breathing space? Certainly one feels that Strephon gets something of a bum deal in Act 2, and I imagine that most performers of the role would enjoy showing off in it.

Supplementary: can the band parts be hired easily? And where from?

John Shea: In response to David Craven, I think that if there is a villain in Iolanthe it is not any person, but the law: the English law, and the fairy law. Law in general, really, insofar as it comes between human beings and their happiness.

One of my reasons for rating Iolanthe so highly in the poll was that I think it has a special flavor none of the other operas has. It is the most tender--I think that is the word I want. It is not the funniest: I think Mikado is that; it may not be the most tuneful: Gondoliers or Pinafore might be that. But Iolanthe gives me no sense of lacking either wit, humor, or melody. It has in addition some of the sharpest satire on British institutions. But it is exceptionally good-humored, the one exception I can think of being "Fold Your Flapping Wings," which is omitted from most performances for the reason that it doesn't seem consonant with the tone of the whole.

Updated 28 November 1997