Iolanthe is great comic election year opera
Gilbert and Sullivan’s Comic Opera Iolanthe is soon to take to the boards at the Regent on Broadway on Saturday July 22 as part of a five-venue tour of the lower North Island.
Iolanthe is a fully staged and costumed production by Wellington G&S Light Opera, whose recent annual tours include The Merry
Widow, The Gondoliers and The Mikado. Having satirised the Public Service, Admiralty and Police, Gilbert targets the most British of institutions, the Houses of Parliament. The fallibility of the mortals we elect to govern us is a perennial theme presenting a rich mine of ineptitude, enactment of laws which lack common sense, self-serving behaviour and the limitations of party politics…"When in the House, MPs divide… They’ve got to leave that brain outside, and vote just as their leaders tell ’em to."
This late work by Gilbert and Sullivan shows them at their best, with droll wit and enchanting music ranging from the tender to the heights of pretentious exuberance. Memorable music includes the Nightmare
Song and the March of the Peers. It’s a great comic opera for New Zealand’s election year.
Experienced Musical Director Hugh McMillan conducts an enthusiastic cast of 30 singers supported by 24 orchestral members playing Sullivan’s full original score.
Director John Goddard delivers Gilbert’s humour in spades, with the cast making the most of the richly-crafted libretto and some judicious contemporary references. Choreographer Lia Purcell, who set last year’s striking Merry Widow dance sequences, has imbued the feminine moves with grace, and the Peers with telling pomposity combined with a hint of Monty Pythonesque behaviour.
The story revolves around a pair of young lovers Strephon and Phyllis. Phyllis is a ward of court under the authority of the Lord Chancellor, and the peers from the House of Lords are smitten at the sight of her. They proclaim their superiority in a stirring march (Tan-tan-tara!) but discover that blue blood has no power to attract true love.
When the blandishments of privilege fail them, they resort to knavish tricks to bring down wrath from above. Arcadian shepherd Strephon, enters Parliament carrying extraordinary powers. The Lord Chancellor is also stricken but finds himself hopelessly compromised and in the memorable
Nightmare Song, he reveals the agony of his position. The contradictions are resolved by judicial and legal expediencies of a suspect kind so that all may live happily ever after.
Lords Tolloller and Mount Ararat (Kevin O’Kane and David McKenzie) return to Palmerston North after former years of local stage appearances.
Iolanthe is at the Regent on Broadway on Saturday July 22. Book at TicketDirect.
Strephon (Andrew Mankowski) and Phyllis (Karishma Thanawala) reconcile and are together again in Act2of Iolanthe.