Gay Devlin: A first-rate production can bring out aspects of a work that one hadn't considered before. So can a bad production. I have just watched the Walker video of Iolanthe; and the decision there to move the action almost entirely indoors made me realize how important the original outdoor settings are. Apart from the expansiveness and agreeable spectacle of Arcadia and Palace Yard, there is the pointed contrast. Part of the humour of Act I is that the peers are so far out of their normal setting while the fairies are quite at home, a situation reversed in Act II, where a familiar London landmark is overrun (and overruled) by charming alien life-forms: a visual topsy-turveydom not unimportant to the opera.
Surely the overall visual effect is also part of the authors' intent.
Aaron Hunt: The only time I have had a shot at this beautiful piece of whimsy, it was played in the Rose Garden of Christ Episcopal Church, Grosse Pointe, in Grosse Pointe, Michigan.
I cannot tell you the effect of the entrance of the Peers from the edifice, spreading out among the roses, or explain to you how my heart stopped when the fairies floated thru the garden at dusk.
Updated 28 November 1997