IOLANTHE. (Delayed in Transmission.)
Musical World 1883 October 27 61(43): 673 [Leading article by "Polkaw"]

    Iolanthe 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:

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!

    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.



transcribed by Helga J. Perry, 8 September 2003