IOLANTHE. (Delayed in Transmission.)
Musical World 1883 October 27 61(43): 673 [Leading article by "Polkaw"]
is an advance on Patience. The musicianship is masterly, the orchestration
delicious; and what invention! Where does Sullivan get all that melody
from? It never stops in Iolanthe. Gilbert is more Gilbertian than
ever, and nothing need be added. The song of the Chancellor when, in the
other act, he bewails his disturbed slumber, is immense – there is something
quite weird and impressive in the orchestral accompaniment. It is a masterpiece.
By the way, what occurs in the orchestra at the words, "For you dream you
are crossing the Channel, and tossing about in a steamer from Harwich"
––? it is a pure salt inspiration from the sea, which is strange and beautiful.
Again, what a perfect jewel, poetically and musically, is Iolanthe's appeal to the Chancellor, on behalf of her son! The feeling and form of the poem is "simply perfect," while the music is positively charming. I must quote:
There is your true poet. To say that a rarely gifted musician wastes his time and lowers himself and his art by setting music to the dramatic productions of an extraordinary genius like Gilbert, is to talk sheer nonsense.He loves! If in the bygone years
Thine eyes have ever shed
Tears – bitter, unavailing tears,
For one untimely dead –
If in the eventide of life
Sad thoughts of her arise,
Then let the memory of thy wife
Plead for my boy – he dies!
He dies! If fondly laid aside
In some old cabinet,
Memorials of thy long-dead bride
Lie, dearly treasured yet,
Then let her hallowed bridal dress –
Her little dainty gloves –
Her withered flowers – her faded tress –
Plead for my boy – he loves!
transcribed by Helga J. Perry, 8 September 2003