Take wing! It’s time to depart from the mortal realm for a spell and visit Fairyland, where the fairy population are imploring their Queen to pardon the banishment of Iolanthe, a beloved fairy who has spent the last 25 years at the bottom of a stream. Her crime? Marrying a mortal man, for which the penalty is usually death, but was reduced to banishment under the condition that Iolanthe never communicate with her husband ever again. Unbeknownst to the fairies however is that Iolanthe gave birth to a son, Strephon, during her time in the stream and the Queen vows to aid to young half-fairy should he ever need it. Strephon tells his mother and aunts of Phyllis, a ward of Lord Chancellor, and the woman he loves and intends to marry, however upon hearing of their love Lord Chancellor forbid the union! Instead she must marry a member of the House of Lords and receives offers from Lord Mountararat and Lord Tolloller. Heartbroken, Strephon returns to his mother seeking comfort, but is spied upon by Phyllis who knows nothing of Strephon’s fairy heritage and mistakes the young and beautiful fairy for his lover! Resigning to her fate she leaves it to the two Lords to decide who she should marry, and ignores Strephon’s pleas to listen to his story. He calls upon the aid of the fairies who resolve to turn him into a MP and pass any bill he chooses! Can Strephon convince Phyllis of his ancestry? How will the Lords decide who should marry Phyllis? And what became of Iolanthe’s mortal husband?
This 1882 comic opera is the seventh collaboration between Gilbert and Sullivan, following ‘Patience’ and preceding ‘Princess Ida’. ‘Iolanthe’, also known as ‘The Peer and the Peri’, enjoyed relative success and ran for 398 performances, and was the first G&S opera to premiere at the Savoy Theatre.
Our society has performed ‘Iolanthe’ six times since 1975. To see the full page for the year you’re interested in, click on the relevant image below. To view the image galleries, head over to our Main Show page.
Click on an image and then click again on the caption to be taken to the page for that production.