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Review transcribed by Helga J. Perry, 26 January 2001
Updated 9 May 2002
 
"Seraph". The Passing Show: "IOLANTHE" A DISAPPOINTMENT. 
Music and Drama 1882 December 2 4(9): 6, col. 3
"Seraph" is the pseudonym of Stephen Fiske (source: A TURN AT THE SHOWS. The Roundabout 1882 December 2 30: 6, col. 2, pgph. 9)

  The best that the London critics can say of "Iolanthe" is, that it was a success d'estime. Here it was a bitter disappointment.
    I interviewed all classes of the audience as they were going out, and, from men-about-town, like Wright Sandford, to lawyers, like ex-Judge Dittenhoeffer from rival managers, like Colonel McCaull, to future managers, like James Collier from literary ladies, like Mrs. Gilder, to society ladies, like Mrs. Bigelow the verdict was unanimous: a disappointment.
    The libretto, full of repetitions and padding, and straining after funny effects, cannot be compared for a moment with that of "Pinafore," of "The Pirates," or of "Patience." The music may please musicians; but there is nothing in it to please the public. Most of it seems like Sullivan's old music played over again in different keys.
    However, Frederic Archer will tell you all about "Iolanthe," far better than I can, in another column.¹ He looks at it from a music stool; I from a seat among the public in the stalls. Whatever he says will be scientifically correct; I give you the impression of the unscientific public.
    From our different standpoints we always agree. He tells you whether an opera ought to succeed; I tell you whether it will succeed. He thought that "Rip Van Winkle" deserved success; I told you that it would be a failure.
    In the same way we agree about "Iolanthe." Mr. Archer says that the music is musicianly. I say that nobody except musicians will care about it, and that there are not musicians enough to fill the Standard for fifty nights.
 



 
 

¹ ARCHER, Frederic. Production of Gilbert and Sullivan's new opera "Iolanthe."
Music and Drama 1882  December 2, 4(9): 5-6
 
 

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