New-York Times1882 November 12 32(9729 Quadruple sheet): 9, col. 1.
The new opera by Gilbert
and Sullivan, entitled "Iolanthe; or, the Peer and the Peri," is under
active rehearsal, and will be produced on Nov. 25. Meanwhile "Rip Van Winkle"
will be continued at the Standard Theatre, where it is sung and acted in
inimitable style. As to "Iolanthe," it is not doubtful that both authors
have done their best and that the opera will prove very amusing. Mr. Gilbert
satirizes the "red tape" formality of official rank and the antiquated
forms of procedure under the English law, going for illustration to the
House of Lords. The Lord Chancellor, the chief of the English bench, surrounded
by Knights of the Garter, the Bath, the Thistle, and other orders of nobility,
discuss with formal ceremony the question as to whether he, the Lord Chancellor,
having fallen in love with the maiden Phyllis, his ward in chancery, "can
legally give his own consent to his own marriage to his own ward; or, if
he marry without his own consent, can he commit himself for contempt of
his own court, and if committed can he appear by counsel before himself
and move for arrest of his own judgment?" In addition, Mr. Gilbert has
brought in a new and whimsical fancy in the introduction of fairies, one
of whom - Iolanthe - gives the title to the opera. The contrast between
the sylvan fairies and the pompous peers serves to make abundant opportunity
for Mr. Gilbert's facile pen. An examination of the score shows that Mr.
Sullivan has written some of his best music. There are a number of airs
which will become as popular as any previous work of the composer, and
at the conclusion of the first act, when a military band is introduced
on the stage in uniform, the effect will be marked. There are some very
well written arias for the principals. The costumes will be the exact copies
in every detail of the official robes worn by the House of Lords. The other
dresses have been designed by Mr. Gilbert, and made under his personal
direction. A novel feature of the mise en scène is the lake upon
the stage, through which Iolanthe rises. The second act is a picture of
the exterior of the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, and the Thames
Embankment. The production of the opera will be simultaneous in London
at the Savoy Theatre and the Standard Theatre here. The music will remain
unpublished for the present.
New-York Times1882 November 19 32(9735 Quadruple sheet): 9, col. 2.
new opera of Gilbert and Sullivan, which is to be produced simultaneously
in London and at the Standard Theatre in this City on Saturday night next,
is considered by those who have seen the score and text to be the best
work the two clever writers have ever done. It is primarily a satire on
"red tape" methods of legal procedure with the seemingly incongruous presence
of fairies. How these elements are brought together to unfold a plot can
only be told when the piece is performed. The hero, Strephon, is half mortal
and half fairy, and this curious position places him in many difficulties,
from which he is finally rescued by the interposition of a fairy mother
and brought into the House of Lords [sic],
where he immediately undertakes to reform the British Constitution. Every
measure he proposes is carried through the influence of his fairy guardians,
and finally he brings in a bill, which is put upon its second reading,
throwing open the Dukedoms of the kingdom to competitive examination. Two
old lords, Mount Arrarat [sic]
and Tolwoller [sic],
types of the House of Peers, together bewail the good old times when lords
"did nothing in particular and did it very well." They together woo the
maiden Phyllis, and each kindly sacrifices himself for the advancement
of the other's love suit. The Lord Chancellor, himself in love with the
girl, is in much trouble to get his own consent to his own marriage with
his own ward. He consults his fellow peers, is advised "do approach himself
deferently," and is finally rewarded by success. The whole story is replete
with funny situations, ridiculous inconsistencies, and the droll contradictory
relations that Mr. Gilbert is so fond of producing. The music is in Sullivan's
happiest vein. Mr. Henderson will give the piece a splendid mounting, with
new and rich costumes imported from London and made under Mr. Gilbert's
direction. There will be a full orchestra, a military band on the stage,
a large chorus, and new scenery and appointments. The principals will be
Misses Jansen, Reber, Roche, Rowley, and Barlow, Messrs. J. H. Ryley, Carleton,
Wilkinson, Dunman, and Lithgow James. It is announced that the sale of
seats will begin to-morrow morning at the box-office of the Standard Theatre.
OF AMUSEMENTS. DRAMATIC AND MUSICAL. STANDARD THEATRE.
New-York Times1882 November 26 32(9741 Quadruple sheet): 2, col. 3.
Mr. Henderson, the enterprising manager of the Standard Theatre, is to
be congratulated on his highly successful production of "Iolanthe; or,
the Peer and the Peri," which was also sung last night for the first time
in London. It is to be regretted that the lack of decent management in
the representative office of the English professional authorities in this
City should interfere with the success of the opera in this country. it
is sincerely to be hoped that despite the insular methods adopted by the
owners of the play it will make a fortune for all concerned. It is a bright
and taking work. Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan have given their best efforts.
The score is full of amusing writing and the quaint original versification
for which Mr. Gilbert is famous; and as to the music it may be said
in a word that Mr. Sullivan has never before done any better work, from
the evident fact it is the same work he has done before. It is sparkling,
well arranged, and if it is full of reminders of other operas Mr. Sullivan
has written it is none the less meritorious. Mr. Henderson has lavished
the resources of the Standard Theatre on the scenic effects and the magnificent
costumes of the company. No opera was ever more generously presented. The
audience was quick to recognize the beauty of the scenery and the complete
ensemble, and never failed for a moment to accord the applause that was
well earned. Mr. Dayton, to whom the credit of the scenery is due, and
Mr. Charles Harris, the energetic and capable stage manager, received much
well-deserved praise at the hands of the auditors. Mr. Henderson has in
these two gentlemen able assistants in their respective departments.
As a matter of fact there is no doubt that Mr. Harris deserves extra praise
for the manner in which he has drilled his forces and presents the opera.
It is hardly possible to attempt to give an account of the plot of "Iolanthe."
In fact there is no plot. The text is one of those wild, incongruous collections
of amusing nonsense which Mr. Gilbert is so fond of. There are humorous
songs, comical situations, dialogue replete with verbal eccentricities,
and all the best efforts that come from his facile pen. The music of Mr.
Sullivan is, of course, characteristic, and suggests not only himself but
every orchestral composer. It is enough to say that it is a well-arranged
opera - not particularly original, but bright and lively. It is certain
to become popular. Miss Roche, as the Fairy Queen, not only sang well,
but was admirable in her action. She has before won success in other works
by the same composers, but in this rôle of the Fairy Queen whe has
made a success which is likely to be remembered. Mr. Ryley as the Lord
Chancellor was very happy in his delineation and gave his songs wit hmuch
spirit. It goes without saying that he acted the part with the utmost vigor,
and enunciated every word as distinctly as if he had been engaged in personal
conversation. Miss Jansen, Miss Forster, Miss Barlow, Messrs. Cadwalader,
Carleton, and Wilkinson were all perfect in their respective rôles.
transcribed by Helga J. Perry, 22 October 2003