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Claims re: Iolanthe's Popularity Among G&S Fans and Balance

I changed the last sentence of the intro to weaken the claims made, so I don't think it needs a citation any more. It is a fact that many "G&S fans" (as opposed to the theatregoing public, who are most familiar with the "big 3") think Iolanthe is the best G&S work. This is confirmed by what I would call "mountains of anecdotal evidence" and also by some "polls" taken over the years on Savoynet, the international G&S discussion list (admittedly not a scientifically selected sample of G&S fans). Also, I don't know of anyone who *doesn't* like Iolanthe. It's in everyone's top several, at least. It is just a well-written show. The dialogue and music are consistently engaging, without any "slow" parts of the show. BTW, Iolanthe is not MY favorite (I like Yeomen and Pirates best), and of course it could be said of some of the others that "many G&S fans" like it the best. I think, also, that if you examine the libretto and the score of Iolanthe, as compared with the lib. and scores of the other G&S operas, you will not see a better balanced work, in terms of balance between the male and female characters, the music and the dialogue, the slow and fast numbers, the comic vs. romantic scenes, the pacing of the plot, etc. Unlike say, Utopia, no character gets left behind, no subplot fails to get resolved, and no stone is left unturned by Sir Arthur in his use of musical motifs and clever orchestration to illustrate the meaning of a song. So, to wrap up this longwinded justification, just as we can say that The Mikado, Pinafore and Pirates are "very popular", I think it is fair and true to say that "many G&S fans" find Iolanthe the best and the best balanced G&S show. --Ssilvers 19:05, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

I'm not adding a "cite needed" back into the article, but I think the statement is still problematic. There are several G&S operas that some significant subset of the G&S fan base would described as "best" or "best balanced." So, why say it about Iolanthe only? Marc Shepherd 12:46, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
I believe that Iolanthe is the favorite of more "G&S fans" than any other. I think the reason for this is its consistently engaging music and dialogue, good storytelling and pacing, and I understand why so many G&S fans rank it first. Also, I think that there are very few G&S fans who "dislike" Iolanthe, whereas there are a lot who say "I don't like Mikado" or "I don't like Patience", or "Yeomen is full of holes", etc. for the same reasons. BTW I am defining "G&S fans" as people who have seen more than just a couple of G&S shows and who intend to explore (or have explored) more G&S shows -- that is, who recognize G&S as something different from any other musical or opera and have a reason for having a "favorite". Also, my reasoning above as to why it is the best "balanced" is, I think, more than just taste -- I think that there is objective analysis in there (somewhere). I could go show by show and tell you why I think the others are not as well balanced (although Mikado is a very well balanced show), but I think that the claims now made in the article are very mild and fair to state. If anyone has a serious disagreement with the claims, I will yield to a reasonable argument. --Ssilvers 23:53, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

Plot summary

I just did a fairly major re-write on the plot summary. Reading it over, I realized that the summary contained a number of statements that are not supported in the libretto (though they may have applied to a production that the writer was familiar with) and other descriptions that did not follow (or confused) the order of the libretto. --Ssilvers 01:17, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

Yes, it's far better now. Marc Shepherd 12:27, 23 May 2006 (UTC)


I changed Strephon, under "roles" from "bass-baritone" to "baritone". Yes, I know Richard Temple was a bass, but anyone who has sung Strephon knows that Strephon is a baritone. It has high F's (and an optional G) and lots of fairly lyric singing. Yes, it has a low G, but it is not a difficult one, and the tessitura of the role lies right in the middle of the baritone range. I think it is misleading to label it "bass-baritone". Even if Sullivan did so, remember that the lower-sitting "FYFW" has been removed from the role. -- Ssilvers (talk)

The second paragraph says:

Iolanthe was advertised as the world's first fairy-tale opera, and was an occasion for what must have seemed a truly magical event in 1882. .... It was true enchantment for the audiences....

There is no source for the claim that it was the "world's first fairy-tale opera," or that it "...was true enchantment for the audiences." Marc Shepherd 17:36, 4 April 2006 (UTC)

Interesting if we could have chapter and verse for assertion that Fairy Queen's music in Iolanthe makes reference to The Magic Flute. I thought I knew both works well, but blest if I can spot any references from the later to the earlier work. (Regards, Tim.)

I've never heard that the FQ's music makes reference to The Magic Flute. I know The Magic Flute pretty well, and I can see no similarity. Marc Shepherd 17:36, 4 April 2006 (UTC)

I agree with Marc. My references compare Iolanthe to Wagner and other composers, but never to Mozart. I will correct if no one else does.--Gary 20:57, 4 April 2006 (UTC)

The Fairy Queen's original costume costume constituted a good-natured visual reference to the costumes of the Walkyries in Wagner's tetralogy, The Nibelung's Ring, which had been given its first London performance in May 1882 -- see Loewenberg's Annals of Opera, sub 1876. The Queen's costume and Iolanthe's rise from the waters at the beginning of Iolanthe are about the only (and very, very distant) traces of "Wagner" in the work, whose musical idiom is quite as un-Wagnerian as it is un-Mozartian.

What on earth does stuff about "fairy-tale operas" have to do with "roles?"

Act II

Iolanthe supposedly revealed herself to the L.C. to save him from "bigamy", but bigamy is marrying two wives. What's a child marrying a parent? (besides illegal/etc.) Peter T.S. 03:14, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

Comes under incest. However, Phyllis isn't his daughter, Strephon's his son. Unless you're saying Strephon's a transexual fairy the L.C. wants to marry... Adam Cuerden 05:29, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
I completely rewrote this -- see plot summary above. The idea that Iolanthe does what she does to save the L.C. was just wrong. He does what he does, because, to paraphrase the libretto, a father would not stand in the way of his son's happiness. --Ssilvers 00:02, 23 May 2006 (UTC)


Are you SURE that's why Gilbert changed the name? To keep things secret? I was under the impression it was something to do with conflicts with Tchaikovsky's opera of the same name. Adam Cuerden 05:32, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

The main article's comment is definitely wrong. I just don't have time at the moment to correct it. Marc Shepherd 17:36, 4 April 2006 (UTC)
There is some evidence, at least online, that it was mostly to frustrate American libretto pirates, after bad previous experiences. I have documented it and taken off the disputed flag.--Gary 21:06, 4 April 2006 (UTC)
Incorrect, unfortunately, but I'll let it stand till I have a chance to look up the source and post a revision. Marc Shepherd 22:31, 4 April 2006 (UTC)
That's fine. May be an urban legend sort of thing that just grew until people cite it as fact. Interested in knowing the truth.--Gary 22:43, 4 April 2006 (UTC)

I agree that "Perola" does not musically fit where the fairies sing "Iolanthe" early in Act I. However, it was my understanding that that was sung, in rehearsal, as "Oh Perola". I suggest deleting the part about how it doesn't fit--after all, it was clearly sung in the early part of rehearsals as "Perola", fit or no fit.--Gary 22:40, 7 April 2006 (UTC)

I've reworded it for clarity. There is actually more information known, but it doesn't meet Wikipedia's verifiability rules. In a letter to his assistant, Cellier, written over two days from October 29-31, 1882, Sullivan wrote:
The name Perola was originally “Iolanthe” which had 4 liquid syllables. So we had to put in an “O” and “Ah” or a “Come” before Perola.
Then, in a Postscript, Sullivan says:
The name will be definitely I hope “Iolanthe”. This will remove all the “Come Perolas” &c from No 3.
This letter now resides in a museum, but no citable source has published it, so I can't put it in the main article. I think the point of Tillett et al (the source I can cite) is that it is musically obvious that Sullivan had to have written with "Iolanthe" in mind from the start. The letter quoted above indeed confirms that they are correct.
I suspect the sources that assure you "Perola" was sung in rehearsal are the same sources that assure you (incorrectly) that the name wasn't changed to Iolanthe until the eve of the premiere. Marc Shepherd 09:33, 8 April 2006 (UTC)
Good enough.--Gary 11:13, 8 April 2006 (UTC)

It's laughable that Tchaikovsky's Iolanta should enter into this discussion of the opera's name: Iolanta was given its first performance only in 1892. See Grove's New Dictionary of Opera sub Iolanta.

The only comment the article makes is to note that the similarly-named Tchaikovsky opera exists. I don't see what's laughable about that observation. Marc Shepherd 12:41, 12 April 2006 (UTC)
This is a very old topic - but people need to be reminded about melisma. It is usual - but by no means universal, for each syllable to have its own single note - Sullivan may well have originally set "Perola" as "Pe-erola", "Pero-ola" or "Perola-a" - perhaps even intending a gentle parody of the (much more frequent) use of melisma in grand opera (especially Italian grand opera). Not suggesting that the article necessarily needs changing, but I don't think that undoubted fact that "Iolanthe" fits a more melifluous "one note one syllable" model means it was always necessarily the preferred name from the beginning. Likely (to be fair) but much less conclusive that the article implies. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 00:08, 14 January 2012 (UTC)
As Andrew Crowther's new book explores in great detail, the name of the show was always intended to be "Iolanthe", even in early drafts. -- Ssilvers (talk) 05:03, 20 April 2012 (UTC)

Act I Finale

Again, I find myself with the difficult task of trying to divide an Act I finale into sections. Iolanthe's Act I Finale is so complicated that I've just put a waiver saying that it has other parts too and let it stand with a few of the sections that have an obvious first line to quote - this may not be ideal. In fact, it isn't. Help! Adam Cuerden 12:00, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

I think you've done fine, and I don't think a disclaimer is needed. Marc Shepherd 13:24, 7 August 2006 (UTC)
By the by, one thing: Should the title be "Young Strephon is the kind of lout", the title I think of that section as, or "With Strephon as your foe, no doubt", which I suspect women think of it as? Adam Cuerden 14:42, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

I think "lout" is the usual title of this section and gives some flavor of what's going on in the section. One could make a case for just saying "Young Strephon", because both men and women sing this, but I think the lout alternative is more descriptive. --Ssilvers 17:15, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

The track listing on the D'Oyly recording lists the title of the track as "With Strephon for your foe", for the record. (cf. Amazon) vogon 23:38, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

Arr, tricky, then. Savoynet poll, perhaps? If the name is divided roughly on gender lines, it's probably worth giving both names. Adam Cuerden 13:59, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

I don't think it's a poll issue. You need to look at the authoritative sources before making this sort of change. A track listing on a particular recording is not much evidence. --Ssilvers 16:10, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

Well, the track listing of a recording is a more reliable source than a Savoynet poll. This particular section simply doesn't have a "standard" name, probably because multiple texts are being sung at once. I would go with "With Strephon for your foe." Marc Shepherd 16:15, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

Have added a footnote, though perhaps I should have used the <ref> to make it less obvious. It's probably unnecessary. By the way, I may be wrong, but I seem to recall the Schirmer score has the fairies singing about how awful Strephon is in, at the least, parts of this song. Schirmer's Iolanthe... is probably best avoided. Adam Cuerden 18:28, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

I don't think your recollection is right. Also, Schirmer has some variations from the authentic text in the Act I finale, particlualry the "P-A-R liament" and "You GO sky high", but these are fairly well known (and easy to mark in one's score). Plus, Schirmer contains the dialogue, which Chappell does not. In rehearsal, the convenience of having a score with dialogue should not be underestimated. In Buxton, the Brits were constantly trying to juggle two books. --Ssilvers 19:03, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

Soon as we may

Is it worth mentioning this is a reprise of "If you go in" or is this pointless? I have added such mentions to, for instance, Princess Ida, so if this is undesirable, I'd like to know before I spread it further. Adam Cuerden 15:07, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

I don't have a problem with your noting that, since it's true an may be helpful to someone. --Ssilvers 16:11, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

I would not mention it. There are lots of reprises in G&S, and not just in finales. We are listing musical numbers, not analyzing them. The proposed standard for the opera articles has a heading for "Musical Elements" where the musical structure of each work can be described. It has yet to be populated for any opera, because we're still working on more basic stuff.Marc Shepherd 16:13, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

Yes, however many of these reprises are obvious. A reasonable person will realise "For he's going to marry Yum-Yum" and "For he's gone and married Yum-Yum" as the same song, and certainly "Now to the banquet we press" and "Now to the banquet we press" are easily identifiable as the same number, if the subsections are correctly listed. However, in a few rare cases (I may miss some): Hail Poetry / Hail noblemen (reprise cut before first night); "If Saphhir I choose to marry" / "After much debate internal"; "If you go in" / "Soon as we may"; "Expressive glances" / "With joy abiding", and, arguably "Once more gondoleiri ... So goodbye cachucha", the fact of similarity is obscured by a change in the first line, (usually with less change later). The cases are rare enough that they're worth mentioning. Adam Cuerden 17:56, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

Well, FWIW, I think we're going the wrong direction when we bulk-up the lists of roles and musical numbers with footnotes and explanations. These matters are better described in other sections. Marc Shepherd 19:54, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

I agree in general, but think that short notes like "see (section)", or footnotes as preparation for having a new section, like is happening in Mikado with the Pish-Tush "So please you sir" note is fine. A short note clarifying that two songs have the same tune would be awkward to work into any section but the list of songs, so should be there, unless you can propose a better place. Adam Cuerden 20:06, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

What if we just add (reprise of x)? Isn't this standard in theatre programs that give a list of numbers? If you say this, I don't think you need any more explanation. --Ssilvers 20:10, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

*shrug* That's what I had before. Adam Cuerden 20:16, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

Queen of the Night?

Can anybody discern a reference to either of the Queen of the Night's arias in any of the Fairy Queen's music? Somebody seems to think so - see The Magic Flute#Trivia. I've stuck a "citation needed" there, but thought I'd ask here before deleting it out of hand. --GuillaumeTell 11:12, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

I know I have read that either the character or the music was supposed to evoke Mozart's, but I've never seen it myself. I think at one time there was such a reference in this article, but the concensus was to remove it. Check the history. I'll check my G&S books when I get a chance.--Wehwalt 13:12, 7 December 2006 (UTC)
Thanks. I checked the history, and this "fact" appeared in the article on 13 November 2005 and was removed on 4 April 2006 (Discussion here). Glad to see that my own impression that there is no Mozart reference is backed up by others. I'll eliminate it from the Flute article and put an explanation on its talk page. --GuillaumeTell 13:54, 7 December 2006 (UTC)
I always thought it was more Wagner. Adam Cuerden talk 21:41, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
I think the Wagner refers to the fairies' cries in Act II before Iolanthe is to be "executed" and the belief that their cries resemble the Rhinemaidens' cries in Das Rheingold.--Wehwalt (talk) 19:37, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

Iolanthe's dilemma

I think it's worth mentioning that Iolanthe's appeal to the Lord Chancellor is initially made in disguise, and that he listens to it and is visibly moved; only after he masters himself and reiterates his determination to marry Phyllis himself does Iolanthe unveil, sacrificing herself "for him, for her, for thee". The last part, I take it, is that in addition to making Strephon and Phyllis unhappy, the Chancellor is otherwise about to commit bigamy. G&S often introduce a note of genuine pathos and Iolanthe revealing herself as the chorus of invisible fairies beg her not to certainly qualifies (even tho' W Schwenk is about to conjure a rabbit out of the hat, as usual). Captain Pedant 12:01, 17 April 2007 (UTC) (sometime Strephon and Mountararat)

Good point. See the new changes to the plot summary, and modify as necessary. If you like G&S, join WP:G&S. Best regards, -- Ssilvers 12:54, 17 April 2007 (UTC)

Done. Legally speaking, of course, the Chancellor's marriage to Phyllis would have been "presumptively valid" by reason of Iolanthe's long desertion, and "conclusively void" only on her reappearance. But by the rules of classic tragedy, he'd have been as guilty as Oedipus even though just as ignorant of the true facts. I like G&S but can only really pronounce on the operettas I've been in :) Captain Pedant 14:23, 23 May 2007 (UTC)

I've made a few minor modifications, which I think will help the reader who doesn't know G&S as exhaustively as we seem to. Incidently, the Lord Chancellor's insertion of one word to change the law has always bugged me a bit. He'd have to change one of the existing words to change the tense. "Every fairy shall die who marries a mortal." Even if the LC inserted "don't" (or, more likely "doesn't"), you'd have to change "marries" to "marry". Given how precise Gilbert was about the law, he probably should have had the LC say "One little change will do it" or words to that effect.--Wehwalt 14:33, 23 May 2007 (UTC)

Well, it just got longer and longer. I have simplified and shortened it, and I think it's perfectly clear now. As for the LC saying "a single word will do it", it's not a question of precision, it's a question of how to deliver the joke. Jokes have to be simple, and in any event, all we need to do in the synopsis is to describe what happens in the play. If you want to explain to the reader why Gilbert was wrong about something, you need to do that in an "analysis" section of the article, and you need to reference it with citations. -- Ssilvers 16:21, 23 May 2007 (UTC)

Just an offhand comment. Not planning to put it in the article.--Wehwalt 22:07, 23 May 2007 (UTC)

Capt. Shaw; background section

I don't see how it makes sense to move the Capt Shaw info from where it was. The first paragraph under "Background" is all about things that happened on opening night. This leads into discussion of the text, the issue regarding the name and then historical context. -- Ssilvers 03:27, 9 May 2007 (UTC)

As you like, it is not a major issue. I think the first paragraph should be as broad as possible, leading into specific things, like the Shaw matter, later in the section. The section is called "Background", I think it should start by painting with a broad brush, getting into details later. Standard writing practice, and it does seem a little jarring, introducing the specific of Capt. Shaw in the middle of a paragraph. I'll leave it up to you.--Wehwalt 10:58, 9 May 2007 (UTC)

I would be open to re-ordering the whole section, but I can't see separating the Capt Shaw sentences from the other sentences about opening night. I don't think it's jarring in that paragraph, because it is an example of what the topic sentence of the paragraph is discussing, and it doesn't belong anywhere else in the paragraph. One could certainly argue that the whole section should be chronological, or organized in another way. There are several different issues discussed in the section, and all of them come under the general heading of "background", but I don't think you could write an introductory paragraph that ties the whole section together. As I say above, I think the section makes reasonable sense the way it is. Best regards, -- Ssilvers 12:33, 9 May 2007 (UTC)

I consolidated the most "analytical" paragraphs into an "analysis" section. Hope that helps. -- Ssilvers 02:41, 10 May 2007 (UTC)

It does. I wonder if we should put the "Perola" story before the discussion of the opening night? Also, I'm going to check my copy of "The First Night Gilbert and Sullivan", I think there is contemporary discussion of the lighting, with particular reference to the Queen's wand. Might be worth quoting.--Wehwalt 10:29, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
I've looked over the section closely. It needs work. I'll play around with it at some point. The way I look at it, as it stands now, you could rearrange those paragraphs in any order you wanted and it wouldn't make much difference.--Wehwalt 17:03, 9 May 2007 (UTC)


Is it worth having in the article that the drunken robot in the Asimov story quotes from the Nightmare song? It is a while since I read the short story, but it does spout off from several G&S operettas, as SSilvers' edit notes. Why should this be in Iolanthe, then? Why not in the G&S article? If the robot quotes from several works, are we putting that in each work he quotes from? Better to put it, if at all, in the G&S article.--Wehwalt (talk) 21:08, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

This information is noted in the main article on G&S cultural influences. I thought that it was worth noting here, too, but feel free to delete if you don't think so. I suspect that there are plenty of other notable examples of Iolanthe music, lyrics or dialogue being noted or parodied in popular culture, media or literature. Feel free to add any that you know of. -- Ssilvers (talk) 21:27, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
I won't delete it. I may change "Literature" to "Fiction" or some such. I'll give it some thought. I know I have read references to Iolanthe in fiction, but it isn't coming immediately to mind.--Wehwalt (talk) 21:38, 12 December 2007 (UTC)


Probably silly, but I came to see how "Iolanthe" is pronounced. A phonetic spelling at the start of the article may be helpful to some.

Good idea. Does anyone know how to write it using the phonetic alphabet? It sounds like: eye - oh - LAN (as in land) - the (as in theocracy). -- Ssilvers (talk) 20:51, 17 March 2009 (UTC)
In the International Phonetic Alphabet: /aɪ.oʊˈlænθi/. I'll add this. Lfh (talk) 16:25, 31 December 2009 (UTC)


Why is there a link to Mount Ararat in the see also section? Could this have been overlooked plausible vandalism? DFH (talk) 15:47, 26 March 2009 (UTC)

One of the characters is named Lord Mountararat, as mentioned in the cast list. The connection could probably be clearer, but I'm not sure of the best way to do it. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 15:51, 26 March 2009 (UTC)

That is what "See also" is for: links to articles that are only peripherally related to the subject but have a connection like this. I think it's perfect as is. -- Ssilvers (talk) 17:57, 26 March 2009 (UTC)

Reginald Iolanthe Perrin

Apropos of the recent reversion, while the TV character Reggie Perrin may or may not in the present context be notable, the reverted contribution by an anonymous contributor is accurate, except for spelling David Nobbs's name wrongly. Tim riley (talk) 18:14, 4 April 2009 (UTC)

Hello. If you think the information is appropriate for the article, would you kindly insert the information, together with an appropriate citation and wikilinks? Thanks! -- Ssilvers (talk) 18:46, 4 April 2009 (UTC)

If memory serves, Reggie ended up with Iolanthe as his middle name because his parents were performing in a production of the opera that year, not because he was born during a performance. He also mentions that if he'd been born a year later, he would have had a different G&S opera (Pirates of Penzance(?)) instead. Alas, I have only my memory to go on, and would rather have a cite before making the change. If somebody can track one down, feel free to add the information. JDZeff (talk) 14:05, 23 June 2018 (UTC)

Even if that is correct, I doubt that it would be noteworthy in this article. One would need a WP:RS that explains why the character is significant to this article. Does the character sing any songs from the opera during the TV show, or is there a story-line involving the opera? The mere fact that his middle name is chosen after the opera would not be noteworthy here. -- Ssilvers (talk) 19:24, 23 June 2018 (UTC)

Category:operas with a mythological setting

What is going on here? Is London mythological? (And, looking at the category, in what way are the settings of The Gondoliers, Princess Ida and The Grand Duke mythological? The category description refers to mythology and folklore - there's no mention of countries invented by opera librettists. --GuillaumeTell 22:38, 2 December 2010 (UTC)

Hi, GT. Act I of Iolanthe is set in "An Arcadian Landscape". Act II of The Gondoliers is set in the mythical island of Barataria. Princess Ida is set somewhere in medieval or renaissance storybook land, with many anomalies as to time and space. The Grand Duke is a fictional German-speaking Grand Duchy. -- Ssilvers (talk) 00:47, 3 December 2010 (UTC)
Right, so tell me what the members of the House of Lords are doing in a mythological arcadian landscape. Barataria and Pfennig-Halbpfennig and an all-woman university - what have they to do with mythology? Mythology is Wotan and Venus and King Arthur, not nineteenth-century whimsy. --GuillaumeTell 01:50, 3 December 2010 (UTC)
I agree with GuillaumeTell. Thespis would qualify (in spades!), but none of the rest of the G&S canon, in my opinion. Tim riley (talk) 10:19, 3 December 2010 (UTC)

Well, Act I of Iolanthe is set in "An Arcadian Landscape", and fairies are myth/folklore, so I'd say both Thespis and Iolanthe qualify. I agree about Gondos/Utopia/GD/Ida, but: Is it possible that the category description is too narrow? Should it be expanded to mythology, folklore AND fictional settings? -- Ssilvers (talk) 14:35, 3 December 2010 (UTC)

Barataria and Utopia both date back much earlier than the 19th century. Barataria was invented by Cervantes and Utopia (the concept, at least) by Sir Thomas More. I imagine that my definition of mythology and GuillaumeTell's are at odds, with his being much more restrictive than mine, and would support SSilvers suggestion that the category be expanded to include folklore and fictional settings. Of the G&S Canon, I'd say Barataria definitely fits mythology. I'm on the fence about The Grand Duke as it is set in a fictional German republic. Thespis is set on the very real Mount Olympus in Greece, but SSilvers has made a case that it is a cross between the real Mount Olympus and the mythical Mount Olympus. Despite Gilbert's scene direction, I'm not convinced that the first scene of Iolanthe is set in Arcadia rather than somewhere in the British countryside. Shsilver (talk) 15:04, 3 December 2010 (UTC)

Note that Shsilver and I are two different editors, despite our similar usernames. -- Ssilvers (talk) 15:09, 3 December 2010 (UTC)

More re: Iolanthe: She went to live at the bottom of a stream (instead of "at the bottom of my garden") to be near her son, Strephon, an Arcadian shepherd. I don't know how the peers get there; perhaps they click their heels together three times. -- Ssilvers (talk) 15:13, 3 December 2010 (UTC)
An unnecessarily pedantic person (e.g. me) might point out that the Oxford English Dictionary has this to say about Arcadia: "Latin Arcadi-us( < Greek Ἀρκαδία, a mountainous district in the Peloponnesus, taken as the ideal region of rural contentment)" Not altogether mythological, it seems. Be that as it may, I'm happy to go along with the majority on the proposed category. Tim riley (talk) 16:53, 3 December 2010 (UTC)

The category as it stands is curiously underpopulated (which is one reason why the G&S stuff sticks out). It's a sub-category of Category:Operas by setting, but many of the country categories there also look underpopulated - it's as if whoever started doing the categorising got fed up or went off to do something else. However, Category:Operas based on Greco-Roman mythology is very well-populated, but that's a sub-cat of Category:operas by theme. Anyway, given that the category that we're discussing states "This category contains a list of operas set in mythological lands or based on non-geographical folklores", and most of the G&S operas mentioned above don't fit into either of these definitions (especially if you follow the links - and you should!), then Something Needs To Be Done. Maybe I'll mention this debate at WikiProject Opera. --GuillaumeTell 19:06, 3 December 2010 (UTC)

Thanks, GT. If there is no separate category for operas set in fictional places, then I would suggest adding "fictional locales" to the description of this category, which would create one neat place for operas set in fictional, mythological and folkloric settings. Would you kindly let us know the outcome? Thanks! -- Ssilvers (talk) 20:36, 3 December 2010 (UTC)
No comments at the Opera Project, so I've proposed the revised category name at CfD, see here. --GuillaumeTell 17:00, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

Asimov in trivia section

In the trivia section there is currently a disagreement over whether Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" sci-fi books were based on Iolanthe. I suggest that if the statement is retained Asimov's statement about his inspiration should be spelled out in full, as at present its tangential relevance to the opera is misleading. Tim riley (talk) 16:25, 10 November 2011 (UTC)

I disagree, if I understand you correctly, Tim riley. As you know, I have often drawn the line at including a little more info in "In Culture" sections than you prefer to do. In this case, however, Asimov said that he was reading Iolanthe on the subway, it started him thinking about wars and empires, and by the end of the ride, his train of thought had arrived at the station. I don't think we need to say any more than that this very important work of science fiction was inspired by Iolanthe, although I am happy to put it in the footnote if you like. Am I understanding your comment correctly? -- Ssilvers (talk) 16:53, 10 November 2011 (UTC)
I cherish Asimov's Foundation trilogy (pentalogy in the end?) and, just as much, his comic short stories on G&S themes (Wellington Johns, lost robots, etc), but to say sans phrase that the Trilogy is inspired by Iolanthe is misleading. I suggest the author's original remark needs to be quoted in full. Tim riley (talk) 17:02, 10 November 2011 (UTC)
I can't see how Asimov's sitting on the subway is of significant interest to people finding out about Iolanthe. Again, if you think an explanation is needed, we can certainly put it in the footnote, and then if people want to know in what way Iolanthe inspired Foundation, they can look at the note.... The source says: "Asimov was travelling on the subway reading a collection of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. He opened it at Iolanthe. The illustrations and their military theme started him thinking in terms of armies, wars, and empires. Before he had arrived at [his publisher's] office he had the idea of writing about a galactic empire, based on the historical structure, rise, and fall of the Roman Empire." I would shorten this for the footnote to say "Asimov was travelling on the subway reading ... Iolanthe. The illustrations and their military theme started him thinking in terms of armies, wars, and empires. Before he had arrived at [his publisher's] office he had the idea of writing about a galactic empire, based on the historical structure, rise, and fall of the Roman Empire." -- Ssilvers (talk) 18:47, 10 November 2011 (UTC)
My problem is – and I speak as one who admires and respects Asimov as a writer (not just a genre writer but a memorable and insightful one sans phrase) – that unless we explain the circumstances, anyone who knows Asimov's work will wonder what the dickens the Foundation Trilogy has in common with Iolanthe. I think we should either explain the context or omit the reference altogether. (ps. The Trilogy surely has more in common with Pinafore – "Things are Seldon what they seem".) – Tim riley (talk) 16:29, 13 November 2011 (UTC)
I have now added info to clarify Iolanthe's part in the conception of Foundation. See if you think it works ok for you now. -- Ssilvers (talk) 18:37, 13 November 2011 (UTC)
Good. I'll sign up to that. Thanks for accommodating my pickiness. Tim riley (talk) 19:10, 13 November 2011 (UTC)


The disambiguation hatnote for Tchaikovski's "Iolanta" is based on the similarity of the name (and, in theory at least, to avoid confusion arising from this similarity). There is no other connection (for instance the plot is completely different - the heroine is a fairy rather than a blind princess etc.) So while the play on which the Tchkovsky work is based is relevant to that work - its connection to Gilbert & Sullivan's "Iolanthe" is extremely tenuous. IMHO, anyway --Soundofmusicals (talk) 20:12, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

I heartily agree. I think that satire is WP:OVERLINKing, but I totally agree about the hatnote. -- Ssilvers (talk) 06:41, 9 January 2012 (UTC)

It's the origin of the name "Iolanthe". "Iolanthe" is the Danish version of the name Yolante, which was used directly in translations of the play, which was enormously popular at the time. It was also often performed in English under the title "Iolanthe".[1] (eg the 1876 benefit performance for Irving [2]). So, indeed, was the opera. [3] The name is not "similar" it was in fact the same. It's just a modern convention that the opera is now known as "Iolanta" or "Yolanta". The fact that the play is little known nowadays is irrelevant. We are supposed to be expanding knowledge, not maintaining ignorance. The link is not tenuous. It is central.[4] All audiences at the time would have associated the parody of magical enchanted figures with the well-known play and opera. The figure of Iolanthe is a joke derived from the "magical romance" genre initiated by the play. Also, I see nothing in the WP:OVERLINK guidelines that is relevant here. They are essentially about avoiding turning every other word in an article blue, not about adding content. Paul B (talk) 12:55, 9 January 2012 (UTC)

Hello, Paul. The purpose of a hatnote is to steer searchers to the correct article. Will anyone search for "Iolanthe" who is looking for Yolanta? User:Soundofmusicals does not think so, and it strikes me as extremely unlikely. See WP:HATNOTE#Legitimate information about the topic and the other examples of improper use of a hatnote. Note that my overlink comment is not about this, but something separate, involving a previous change by Soundofmusicals. -- Ssilvers (talk) 15:11, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
I don't understand the question "will anyone search for "Iolanthe" who is looking for Yolanta?". I don't think you understood my note. "Yolanta" is one of many spelling variants of the same medieval name. The play and the opera were both commonly known as "Iolanthe" in English, and were performed under that name. G&S's first audiences would have have recognised the title of their satire from the play, which, though officially titled "King Rene's Daughter", was often performed under the name "Iolanthe", and was so in the years just before the G&S work was created. In other words "Iolanthe" is an alternate name of "King Rene's Daughter", so anyone searching for it might do so under that name. Furthermore, the hatnote provides new information for the reader. I appreciate that that's not the function of hatnotes, but it's a fringe benefit of the link system. Soundofmusical's comments about the plot are wholly misplaced. It's not the plot that's being imitated, it's the genre that's being satirised. However that whole point is completely irrelevant. The rationale for hatnote use is the identical title, as I have said. Paul B (talk) 15:49, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
Paul - I don't disagree with you really - but the hatnote AS IT IS - pointing out possible confusion between the Tchaikovsky opera and the G&S operetta is quite enough. What we DON'T need is a further reference to the play that the libretto of the Tchaikovsky is based on - because, very simply, Gilbert's libretto is not based on "King Rene's Daughter" at all - his character just happens to have a similar (or, if you like, identical) name. You and I are both called "Paul" - but we are totally different people (at least I hope so, for your sake) and one can refer to one of us without mentioning the other without losing any important information. Adding irrelevant (or even nearly irrelevant) references does not help educate (or "provide information to") users, it can in fact only serve to spread confusion and dismay. Iolanthe is indeed VERY satirical indeed, and the targets of its satire (while principally political) are also artistic. Mendelssohn obviously cops it bigtime (both Gilbert AND Sullivan get in on this one!!) - and I am more than prepared (especially if you can find a reference) to admit that Gilbert MAY have had either the Tchaikovsky opera (or even the play) in mind when he picked Iolanthe's name. This might even be brought up in the text - if people think its relevant or notable. All I am saying is that the hatnote is no place for this kind of thing. The purpose of the reference to Tchaikovsky in the current hatnote is purely disambiguation. For this purpose it is eminently sufficient, and needs no amplification. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 06:48, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Sorry Paul - did the above just as I was hurrying out. Coming back again - and re-reading your post - I notice that you do actually understand about the disambiguation function of the hatnote better than I gave you credit for. I still don't agree though. Hatnotes are there for likely, or at least feasible causes of confusion, and I can't see that there is even the hint of anything like that here. If you had a rather better argument than you have - (i.e. if there really WAS a serious disambiguation point here) then it would be a matter for a disambiguation page rather than a "layered" hatnote. A clincher for me, incidentally, is that "Iolanthe" is not suggested as an alternative title in the article for the original Danish play. But if you want to do a disambiguation page, with a changed hatnote to match, then I wouldn't object. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 07:30, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
As long as this is the "primary" article, I wouldn't object either. -- Ssilvers (talk) 20:50, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

[Left] The article on the play does indeed say that it is an alternative title (though not in the lede). I have provided links to evidence of that fact. Just click on them. That's what they are there for. As I wrote, "though officially titled "King Rene's Daughter", was often performed under the name "Iolanthe", and was so in the years just before the G&S work was created [that is, in the late 1870s]." I don't know why I have to keep repeating that fact. It's quite simple. "King Rene's Daughter" was also known as "Iolanthe". Of course the G&S operetta should be the primary page. It's much better known. If there is a disamb page it should be linked from this one. However, it is very common to have two links in hatnotes, so I don't see the problem. It might also be possible to add content about the source of the name in this article if it can be properly sourced. Paul B (talk) 21:34, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

"Iolanthe" is NOT noted as an alternative title to "King Rene's Daughter" in the first or second sentence of the lead - where it would (or at least should) be noted if it is a likely "second title", i.e. likely to be searched for by that title. E.g. note how "Arabian Nights" is noted as an alternative title to "One Thousand and One Nights". Hatnotes (I thought you understood this, but perhaps it needs to be said again) are there to resolve likely confusion, and should be avoided where they are more likely to cause confusion than to resolve it. A disambiguation page - perhaps on the name Iolanthe or Yolanta or whatever, and giving information about the name itself and listing articles with a connection to the name (there may well be others besides the three we have here) might very possibly be appropriate. Then the hatnote to this one would read "This article is about the Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera - for other uses, see Iolanthe (name)". (There is a template for just this format). I do think that this would be a much more appropriate way of resolving any possible confusion. It is also far more flexible, in that any future article using the name Iolanthe or any of its variants can be simply added to the disambiguation page and thus get an automatic if indirect link here, though a hatnote that will not need to grow. Can you "do" this page yourself, or would you prefer I do it? --Soundofmusicals (talk) 13:37, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
I have been looking into this. Henry Irving produced Theodore Martin's translation of "King Rene's Daughter" under that name in 1876. Thereafter, he revived the play under the name "Iolanthe" at least once prior to G&S's show (Ainger says that this was in 1880). In any case, I think that Soundofmusicals' suggestion is the best way to go. -- Ssilvers (talk) 16:16, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

Yes, I already linked to evidence of Irving's performance in my first post on this page. There was also an adapted version by Wills that was performed under that name. In response to Soundofmusicals, whether it is mentioned in the lede of the KRD article or not is utterly irrelevent. That's an issue for how that article is written, not to whether or not there should be a link here. I am beginning to wonder if Soundofmusicals actually reads what I write. I said very clearly "The article on the play does indeed say that it is an alternative title (though not in the lede)." I cannot understand the point of this persistent resort to irrelevance. What matters is whether a reader, looking for the article, might type in that title. Also, we are supposed to be adding useful material, not suppressing it. To be frank, I am getting sick of Soundofmusicals's patronising tone. I know perfectly well what hatnotes are for. I have been around in Wikipedia a lot longer than you have. Also I am a professional specialist in Victorian culture, having written and edited numerous books and articles on the topic. Just type "Paul Barlow" and "Victorian" into google. I don't need to be told about the Savoy operas or the context of theatrical culture at the time. Paul B (talk) 17:36, 11 January 2012 (UTC) I quote from Ian Bradley's The Complete Annotated Gilbert and Sullivan (1995), OUP. "There may also have been some concern about possible copyright complications in using the name Iolanthe. It was already the title of a lyrical drama by the Danish playwright Henrik Hertz based on an old story about a blind princess called Yolande. In 1880 an English translation of Hertz's play by W. G. Wills opened in London with the same title and with Ellen Terry and Henry Irving in the leading roles. In a letter written on 13 October 1882, just six weeks before the opera was due to open, Gilbert asked D'Oyly Carte to request permission to use the name from Irving, to whom Wills had sold the rights." (p.364) In other words, there is a direct connection between the play and the operetta. I really don't see any point in a general disambiguation page on the name Yolande et al, since the "Iolanthe" spelling is historically significant as a result of the popularity of the play. A hatnote here seems more sensible, and more useful. I can't understand why there is so much resistance to it. I also think that the information from Bradley should be included in the text. Paul B (talk) 17:48, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

Better to cite Ainger (pp. 212 to 213). Bradley may be mistaken about Wills. Gilbert's letter, as directly quoted in Ainger, does not mention Wills. Irving certainly used the Martin translation, not the Wills, in 1876, when Irving called the play "King René's Daughter". Also, none of the sources report whether Carte actually got "permission" to use the name from Irving or simply went ahead anyway. I don't think that, even then, a woman's name could be copyrighted, and there are no other elements of the play that are used in the opera. Other works called "Patience" must have been written before the G&S opera of that name. I am continuing to look into this. But, in any case, I think SoundofMusicals is right that the simplest thing to do is to put up a disambig page and link to that in the hatnote. That would always be correct, whatever the facts turn out to be. Why make such a big deal about this, Paul? Try to be more collaborative. -- Ssilvers (talk) 19:13, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
Paul, sorry if my tone seems patronising - such is NOT my intention at all - just trying to avoid confusion for the user who is NOT a specialist in Victorian culture, while at the same time (as you remark yourself) being informative and not "pandering to ignorance". I will try to be a nice old man and refrain from remarking about pots calling kettles black, or stones and glass houses, by the way. Anyway - let's try the disambig page. I have been looking into things myself - there are already at least two dab pages for variant forms of the name "Iolanthe" which might be linked to the "Iolanthe (name)" page, as well as the Tchaikovsky opera, the Danish play, and this article (not to mention Yolande, Duchess of Lorraine, who seems to be at the root of the whole business). As I said, there may very well be other appropriate links too. Overall, it is actually quite a common name really, counting variant forms. If you want to start the dab page yourself by all means - otherwise I'll get onto it myself shortly. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 23:51, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

Right-oh guvnah, I bin an dunnit! (in fact heritis). All teasing aside, this is obviously a rough little first sketch and probably needs references etc. - but at least you can see how it would work. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 05:49, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

Connection between "King René's Daughter" and Iolanthe?

[Copied from another talk page] Wikipedians should be skeptical about unreferenced assertions. That's why WP:V and WP:OR are two of our three most important policies. It is clear that "King René's Daughter" was presented by Henry Irving in 1876 (from Irving's correspondence, cited in the "King René's Daughter" article) and that Irving revived it under the name "Iolanthe" - Ainger says this was in 1880. No one has shown that the character of Iolanthe in the G&S opera is supposed to make the audience think of the character in "King René's Daughter". It is just as reasonable to suppose that Gilbert used the name 'despite the fact that Irving had used it so recently. If anyone can find good evidence that Gilbert chose the name to make this connection for his audience, that would be of interest here. All the best. -- Ssilvers (talk) 17:05, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

Recent addition in re "Perola"

User: Lehighlinda added this on 4 August 2012:

According to the program notes for the Houston Gilbert & Sullivan Society' s 2012 production of ' Iolanthe' , the reason for the name change had to do with royalty income. In general, the first New York City performance of each new G&S production opened only days after the arrival of the first ship from England following the London premier, and perhaps even sooner, depending on the success of U.S. opera spying operations. As a result, a U.S. production company would claim U.S. royalty rights to the title. To prevent that, Iolanthe was rehearsed under the title "Perola" -- so that if a U.S. imitation opened before the "real thing" was produced in NYC by a D' Oyly Carte company, the imitators would have the wrong name and hence no claim to the ' Iolanthe' title. The true G&S version under its true name would be first performed in the U.S. by a D' Oyly Carte troupe, and therefore belong, royalty-wise, to the D' Oyly Carte Opera Company. The notes say, "And so, a traveling D' Oyly Carte troupe (already in the city performing ' Patience' ) gave, in makeshift costumes on a makeshift set, a single night' s rendering of ' Iolanthe' for the first time in America. U.S. royalty rights to the Comic Opera were secured, and the troupe returned to ' Patience.' One might imagine...that Gilbert smiled."

As it this addition contains no author/bibliographical details and no indication why the programme is a WP:RS, and is, I think, frankly wrong (see below), I have taken the liberty of moving it here pending examination of the facts and a consensus about how to proceed.

In fact, the change of name was publicly known both in London and New York as early as 4 November, three weeks before the London and New York premieres, which were both on 25 November: see "Music and Musicians", The New York Times, 5 November 1882. The contentions in the Houston programme seem to me inaccurate in every relevant particular. The reason for the temporary title was that Henry Irving held the rights to the title Iolanthe (from an 1880 play of that name by W G Webb) and "Perola" was used until Carte could secure the rights from Irving. (Stedman, p. 190). All views gratefully received. – Tim riley (talk) 12:28, 5 August 2012 (UTC)

Thanks, Tim riley. Yes, this addition contains lots of frankly wrong information. First of all, Richard D'Oyly Carte did NOT, successfully "secure" royalty rights in America. Also, as Tim notes, the description of the change of the rehearsal name "perola" to "Iolanthe" was known and advertised more than a week before the opening. Houston G&S is an amateur company. Either their theatre programme is in error or the editor has mis-summarised it. Finally, I would note that this detail about the show's name should not have too much ink in the article as a matter of WP:BALANCE. -- Ssilvers (talk) 09:20, 6 August 2012 (UTC)


The works of Gilbert and Sullivan ARE operettas, of course, by any sensible definition. But because "operetta" was a naughty word at the time (with some reason!) they were "originally billed" as "comic operas": as a little "no smut here, we're British" signal. We still call them "comic operas" here (I have no idea why, but there you are). This is a shame - but if it were ever to be rectified we would need to get a consensus, and change many entries (consistency is important) not just peck at this one. Sorry... --Soundofmusicals (talk) 21:57, 5 April 2013 (UTC)

I feel very strongly that we should honor the intent of Gilbert, Sullivan and Carte and call them operas. There have been long discussions about this in the past either at the G&S talk page, or the project pages, with extensive, specific arguments made. -- Ssilvers (talk) 22:10, 5 April 2013 (UTC)
We all know your (and for that matter my) opinion on this one, oh silvery one. The reason for the note above is not to set in motion an old argument - but to explain my reversion of a good faith edit that changed this article: which was, incidentally, to the ("comic opera") status quo, even though this would NOT be my own first choice. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 22:27, 5 April 2013 (UTC)
Phew! That's a great relief. The heart sank at the prospect of going round the buoy yet again. So glad we aren't. Tim riley (talk) 09:49, 6 April 2013 (UTC)
To be honest, I am quite surprised that there has been any adverse reaction at all. I simply reverted a good faith edit back to the previous form - I think everyone knows what I think, but I was just supporting the current consensus. My explanation was for the benefit of a new editor. When I was in their position things were not always explained, and if I had been a delicate little lassy instead of a thick-skinned old man I might have given up. If the question ever does come up again, and if the consensus changes, then I hope everyone will respect that. I think we all agree that consistency is the main thing. We can't call something one thing in one place, and something else in another. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 15:35, 6 April 2013 (UTC)


I made these changes at the beginning of the synopsis, intended to remove redundancy and meta-text about the opera, and to streamline the synopsis, but another editor reverted, saying that the redundant language clarifies the time frame. Yet, in the very next sentence we discuss the time frame. Do others have an opinion? -- Ssilvers (talk) 01:06, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

origin of the story

Does anyone know the story of Iolanthe was contemporary, or whether it is based on some kind of myth or legend? ElectricRay (talk) 13:43, 31 December 2015 (UTC)

Hello, ElectricRay. When you comment on Talk pages, please put your comment at the bottom of the page, so people can find it. Iolanthe is an original story. It is not based on any myth or legend, although it makes use of the general idea of fairies. Tchaikovski wrote an opera called Iolanta (1892) based on King René's Daughter, which had also been adapted in London in 1880 as a play by W. G. Wills, but these are unrelated to Gilbert and Sullivan's opera. -- Ssilvers (talk) 19:59, 31 December 2015 (UTC)

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