|Iolanthe > 1908 Revival
There are times (and one of them is just after seeing a good performance of it) when one is inclined to ask whether Iolanthe is not, after all, the best of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas – the most Gilbertian, the most Sullivanian, the most witty and satirical and logical and poetical, the sweetest in melody and the most apt in the fitting of music to words. Certainly the “amorous dove” song and Iolanthe’s prayer to the Lord Chancellor are among the Savoy tunes that recur with the greatest pleasure to the memory in sentimental moments; and when people want to give a specimen of Sir W. S. Gilbert’s wit, do they not nearly always choose the immortal reflexions of Private Willis?
The opera went well last night, and was received with delight and frequent encores. We have not seen Mr. Workman to better advantage; he scarcely clowned it at all, and in appearance and manner was the Lord Chancellor to the life. And Mr. Rutland Barrington as Lord Mountararat in the combat of unselfishness with Thomas, Earl Tolloller – was anything ever more richly Barringtonian? Miss Louie René as the Queen of the Fairies did the strongest and most distinguished work among the ladies, though Miss Jessie Rose made a touching Iolanthe; and, if only all Miss Clara Dow’s notes were as true and sweet as a few of them are, she might have sung Phyllis as well as she acted it. A first-rate Private Willis in Mr. Sheffield, and a deft and pointed Strephon in Mr. Lytton. But what a pity it is that Mr. Lytton takes so long to find his voice! The fairies liked charming, and the whole chorus sang well. But the peers were very badly made up.
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