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Iolanthe

Iolanthe

 

This comical fairy opera from the Wolverton Gilbert & Sullivan Society was first performed in 1882, but the satire is still relevant today.

Twenty-five years after being banished from Fairyland (because she married a mortal), Iolanthe has been pardoned. However, she had a son, Strephon, by this illicit marriage, and he is half mortal and half fairy.

Strephon falls in love with Phyllis, whom he is desperate to marry, but he requires the consent of her guardian, the Lord Chancellor. He shows little support for the idea of his ward marrying Strephon…… to him a mere shepherd.

Strephon turns for help to Iolanthe, his mother. As a fairy Iolanthe has not physically aged and looks just seventeen. Because of this Phyllis misunderstands the close and loving relationship between mother and son and, believing Strephon to be unfaithful, renounces her love for him.

Despite his protests that Iolanthe is just his mother, Strephon’s claims are met with derision by Phyllis (and the Peers). The Queen of the Fairies is also unable to persuade them.

Furious at their attitude, The Queen declares that Strephon will enter Parliament and work to overthrow all the privileges enjoyed by the nobility.  

However, once there he finds it is no substitute for having the love of Phyllis and, with no further reason to conceal it, he reveals his fairy origins to her. He explains Iolanthe's apparent youth and the couple become re-engaged.

To help Strephon, Iolanthe (in disguise) puts their case to the Lord Chancellor. Unbeknown to him, he is her mortal husband and she is forbidden to enlighten him under pain of death. But when he declares that he has also decided to marry Phyllis, she is forced to reveal her true identity thus forfeiting her own life.

However, it then emerges that all the fairies have committed the ultimate offence and married mortals (the Peers), leading the Lord Chancellor to suggest that the law be amended so that it is a crime for any fairy not to marry a mortal.

The Queen of the Fairies happily selects a mortal for herself and invites the whole company to join her in Fairyland.    

Tickets £17. Over 60's and Students £15.  Children £5

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