Opera Scotland

Iolanthe 1906D'Oyly Carte Principal Repertoire Company

Read more about the opera Iolanthe

The works performed, all by Gilbert and Sullivan, were:  Trial By Jury H M S Pinafore;  Pirates of Penzance;  Patience;  Iolanthe;  Princess Ida;  Mikado;  Yeomen of the Guard;  and Gondoliers.

The Dundee schedule was as follows:

W/c 17 December:  Mon 17 Mikado;  Tue 18 Iolanthe;  Wed 19 Gondoliers;  Thu 20 Yeomen of the Guard;  Fri 21 Pirates of Penzance & Trial By Jury;  Sat 22 m Patience;  Sat 22 e Mikado;  Sun 23 Charity Concert.

W/c 24 December:  Mon 24 Gondoliers;  Tue 25 Patience;  Wed 26 Mikado;  Thu 27 HMS Pinafore & Trial By Jury;  Fri 28 Princess Ida;  Sat 29 m Yeomen of the Guard;  Sat 29 e Yeomen of the Guard.

Further Scottish dates to be confirmed.

The weather was unusually vile, blizzards of snow affecting audiences and causing challenges for the singers.  The lead contralto, Theresa Russam, missed the first week due to cold.  No sooner had she returned to performing than the lead soprano, Hope Hastings, and mezzo, Lulu Evans, succumbed in turn.  The understudies were certainly kept busy, though only one performance (Pinafore) seems to have attracted critical wrath.



Two Dundee Reviews

Dundee Advertiser: Wednesday, December 19 1906    p9

Her Majesty’s Theatre - Iolanthe

'This delightful fairy opera, which was last given here by the D’Oyly Carte Company in September 1902, follows Patience in the Gilbert-Sullivan repertory and immediately precedes Princess Ida, a similarly poetical work.  It dates from 1882, and its production was associated with a painful crisis in the life of the composer.  A failure in the City had left Sir Arthur practically penniless, and when on the opening night he took his place as conductor of the Savoy orchestra he was fortuneless but for a few pounds.  That very day he had learned of the disaster, but courageously he faced his duty, though with the knowledge of his poverty torturing his brain it must have been an ordeal to pilot his musicians through the subtleties of the exquisite score.  Iolanthe was far from being a failure, but its use of the fragile elements of fairydom militated against it altogether captivating the practical British public.  It is a work, however, that appeals to many by the uncommon texture of its story, in which it is related how the lovely Iolanthe was condemned to pass twenty-five years at the bottom of a river all because she had married a mortal, and how she employed her subsequent freedom in taking care of her semi-human son Strephon.  The extravagance of the plots explains why the first act is conducted amidst Arcadian surroundings, while the final incidents occur in the prosaic precincts of the House of Lords.  This surprising change of scene involves a curious contrast in pictorial features, the fairy environment disclosing a glory of kaleidoscopic animation, while the Parliamentary accessories are at one point dominated by the ponderous figure of Private Willis wearing his towering bearskin.  Here the Fairy Queen makes an amusing speech about the godlike proportions of the spacious Guardsman.  The situation is truly comical, and it is one of many.  For Gilbert revels in his libretto, and his wit snaps and scintillates in an astonishing and dazzling way.  For instance, how funny is the substantial Sovereign’s remarks about swinging from a cobweb and nestling in a nutshell, and the Lord Chancellor’s lament about his predicament in the bewitching ward, to marry whom must bring him before himself for condign punishment.  To watch the libretto closely is a delight, for it is full of droll and clever things.  Some of it is, of course, out of date, and the reference in the Queen’s lovely song “O amorous dove,” to Captain Shaw is nowadays scarcely understood, since years have gone since that intrepid fire-fighter commanded the London Fire Brigade.  And may not it be said that the allusion to women mixing in politics is behind the time, though last night a few anti-suffragettes applauded it?  The swing of the pendulum, however, has given fresh significance to Gilbert’s laughing hits at the House of Lords.  These are points that occur to an interested study of the libretto.

'But the opera’s chief charm is the music, though, truth to tell, one lingers over the glow and movement of the scene where sprightly fairies and gorgeously-robed Peers mingle, and that when the same radiant company gathers within the grey courtyard of Westminster.  These stage pictures are remarkably fine.  But it is the haunting melodies, the exquisite cadences, the enlivening airs, and splendid choruses that rule in the memory.  The choral music and the soli in the opening incident when Iolanthe is recalled from her banishment are singularly beautiful, and the sort of music that one associates with twilight cathedral aisles.  In much else Sullivan displays his aptitude for religious music.  At other times, as in “When Britain really ruled the waves,” he reveals the astonishingly elastic nature of his composing mood.  The whole vocal and orchestral score is strangely rich, and, with a mention of the sufficiently bright and happy acting, it must be noted that the singing and the orchestral playing were rendered with an art that rarely failed, and all the more remarkable in the case of the soloists and chorus considering the every night strain and the infrequent appearance of the work in the repertory.  This excellence was observed and adequately recognised by an audience that from gallery to pit was quick, too, to read the wit and satire of the talk.

'Since the opera is, unfortunately, not to be repeated this visit it seems unnecessary to particularise the performances.  But the tuneful singing of Iolanthe, the charming voice of the Fairy Queen, the duet, “None shall part us,” beautifully sung by Phyllis and Strephon, Billington’s famous ditty about “A little Liberal or a little Conservative,” the sunshiny charms and delightful singing of the trio of fairies, and the freely artistic and rousing singing of the Earl of Mountararat have to be noted as features.  And Mr Walenn’s Lord-Chancellor must also be praised.  It was a nimble bit of work, better even than his Ko-Ko of the previous evening, and its crisp songs were sung with a dexterity and mirthful effect such as we scarcely hoped to hear from other than a Thorne or Workman.  The choral singing was harmonious and telling, and especially in the first passages the female voices gave out the air caressingly with a velvety softness.  Only once, in the first male chorus, did the band become a little too prominent.  In short, the performance was most enjoyable, and augured the best for to-night’s rendering of The Gondoliers.'


Dundee Courier & Argus: Wednesday, December 19 1906

Her Majesty’s Theatre - Iolanthe

'It is now so near Christmas that the charming fairy opera Iolanthe ought to have had a larger audience than that which occupied Her Majesty’s Theatre last night, and no prettier, daintier, or more melodious fairies will be met with in any pantomime than those who graced the stage last night.  The story of Iolanthe is inimitably funny, and the success with which the fairies storm the House of Lords might suggest a change of tactics on the part of the suffragettes.  The score contains one of the most tripping, delicate dancing measures he ever wrote, and is throughout delightfully bright and sparkling, and characteristically Sullivanesque.

'The performance was, as usual, admirable.  Miss Hope Hastings sings with much brilliance as Phyllis, and acts with charm and distinction.  Iolanthe is one of Miss Lulu Evans’ best roles, and she sings the music with all requisite feeling, although last night her voice did not seem to be under perfect control.  The lovely ballad, “He loves,” was sweetly sung, and only missed an encore.  Miss Norma Russell made an excellent appearance as the Queen of the Fairies. Her voice is firm and reliable, she spoke her lines with point, if a little slowly, and she gave the fine song, “Oh foolish fay,” with excellent effect.  Misses Mabel Graham, Mabel Burnege, and Hyacinthe Barton, Celia, Leila, and Fleta respectively, all looked, sang, and acted delightfully, notably in the catching “Don’t Go” number.  The ladies of the chorus again sang with sweetness and purity of tone, and tripped their way through many mazy measures with dainty grace.

'Mr Billington as Private Willis is the popular member of the cast.  His appearance is hailed with warm applause, his great song, “When all night long,” receives one of the heartiest of encores, and his attempts at flying, in the finale, are ludicrously funny.  Mr Charles R Walenn as the Lord Chancellor was perhaps a little robust, both in method and voice, for the part, but he sang the wonderfully clever “Dream” song with much nimbleness and neatness, and took excellent part in the dancing trio with the Earls of Mountararat and Tolloller, who were represented by Mr Leicester Tunks and Mr Strafford Moss respectively.  Mr Tunks was in capital voice, and sang the patriotic “When Britain really ruled the waves” with fine breadth and freedom.  Mr Moss gave “Blue Blood” with appropriate fervour, and Mr Kavanagh was, as usual, an excellent Strephon.  Much of the attractive concerted music was splendidly sung, the quartette, “In friendship’s name,” being given with specially fine finish and effect.

'To-night The Gondoliers will be produced, and to-morroe that greatest of all the series, The Yeomen of the Guard, is to be performed.  We hope that the house will improve as the engagement proceeds.'

Performance Cast

Celia a Fairy

Mabel Graham (Dec 18)

Leila a Fairy

Mabel Burnege (Dec 18)

Fleta a Fairy

Hyacinthe Barton (Dec 18)

Queen of the Fairies

Norma Russell (Dec 18)

Iolanthe a Fairy, Strephon's Mother

Lulu Evans (Dec 18)

Strephon an Arcadian Shepherd

Albert Kavanagh (Dec 18)

Phyllis an Arcadian Shepherdess and Ward in Chancery

Hope Hastings (Dec 18)

Earl of Mountararat

Leicester Tunks (Dec 18)

Earl Tolloller

Strafford Moss (Dec 18)

Lord Chancellor

Charles R Walenn (Dec 18)

Private Willis B Company, 1st Grenadier Guards

Fred Billington (Dec 18)

Performance DatesIolanthe 1906

Map List

Her Majesty's Theatre, Dundee | Dundee

17 Dec, 19.30

© Copyright Opera Scotland 2024

Site by SiteBuddha