J. Derrick McClure: Just a thought. Not only is this the only opera (except maybe THE GONDOLIERS) where the tenor and bass-baritone form a dramatic partnership (culminating in one of the very best comic dialogue passages in the whole canon), but it's the only one to explore, to any extent at all, the dramatic possibility of the conflict between male friendship and male-female love. The situation of a friendship between men which is threatened or breached by one or both of them falling in love is a classic theme of drama - Shakespeare treats it not only in more than one of his plays, most notably TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA, but (with tragic intensity) in his Sonnets. Gilbert's discovery that it can be used for affectionately satirical comedy is another of the wonderfully individual features of IOLANTHE.
Incidentally, when PATIENCE comes up as OOTW, there'll be a lot of points of comparison we can draw between the unusual association of voice classes and dramatic functions among the male characters in it and in IOLANTHE - but that's for another day!
David Duffey: One of the better spoonerisms - boiled spratt - suits Strephon perfectly; but I blame Iolanthe - or rather Gilbert.
Iolanthe/Strephon is one of only two mother/son relationships in the canon. Gilbert had personal unfortunate experience of that relationship which resulted in his rather perverted treatment of it. Luiz/Inez where the son is unhesitatingly abandoned to traitors and the surrogate sold into impoverished service, and the sickly-sweet idealized Iolanthe, who chooses to live eternally in damp discomfort to devote herself exclusively to her son, even to well beyond the age when he should be looking after himself. The result? A boiled spratt.
Arthur Robinson: It seems to me Strephon has a bit in common with none other than Achilles, who has always seemed to me a boiled sprat. Achilles sat out several thousand lines of the ILIAD sulking in his tent ("the incredible sulk") about Agamemnon's taking his concubine--not so much because he loved her, but because it hurt his pride. Not that Strephon was like that; but:
As Achilles makes moan, his immortal mother, who lives underwater, appears to comfort him and encourage him to defy the powerful Agamemnon.
(Achilles, though, is far more boiled than Strephon. He actually, as I recall, whines to his mother about losing his concubine, and the upshot is that she will get Zeus to make the Greeks lose some battles--incidentally causing the deaths of many other Greeks, supposedly Achilles' countrymen--just to show Agamemnon.)
Updated 28 November 1997