Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Gilbert Sullivan - Iolanthe / Hammond-Stroud Mills Collins Opera World|
Actors: Derek Hammond-Stroud, Beverley Mills, Anne Collins, Alexander Oliver, Kate Flowers
Director: Dave Heather
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Television, Musicals & Performing Arts
Featuring the london symphony orchestra and a host of international stars including vincent price joel gray peter marshall keith mitchell frankie howerd and peter allen. Filmed in england and created especially for tv they... more »
English Teacher | Wheatland, CA United States | 05/12/2001
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I love Iolanthe. I was, therefore, very disappointed by this production. Although it was obvious that much thought (and money) had gone into preparation of the scenery, costuming, staging, etc., still it never quite worked. Especially in the beginning, the singing seemed off-key, and even a little bit off-beat. I thought the fairies all the way through looked and acted silly, as did the peers. Where did all that hand-waving come from? And the scenery became boring as scene after scene was acted in what looked like church pews and around papier-mache statues. And why were the Lord Chancellor and the two lords in bed together???One of the things I love about G&S is the sublime juxtaposition of intensely emotional, musically beautiful moments and silly scenes that shatter the emotion and scatter all seriousness. I don't think this entire production ever rose above silly--the actors were all self-consciously ridiculous. My favorite scene, where Iolanthe pleads with the Lord Chancellor--willingly sacrificing her life for her son's happiness, to the accompanying lamentation of the women's choir--was entirely spoiled by the pace of the music, which was rushed, and by the sight of feet and hands waving around above the aforesaid pews in a senseless manner. The eruption of the fairies into the scene did not break the enchanted mood. There was no mood to break. The fairies as ballerinas didn't work well, either. And the peers, even in their first entrance, which is a marvelous piece of stately music, never had even the slightest hint of dignity--which ruins the audience's "aha!" recognition that they are very silly indeed. Strephon, Iolanthe, and Phyllis were well-cast and well-sung, but couldn't save this plodding production."
Not THAT bad, actually.
darragh o'donoghue | 09/19/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Unlike the more 'universal' works of, say, Wagner or Verdi, the Savoy operas are so time-, society- and culture-specific (late Victorian England: the Law, the Empire, the Parliament etc.) that you cannot modernise them without doing a great deal of damage. This means retaining heavy, pageant-like costumes and sets and a rigid style of vocal delivery, which usually leads to the kind of stodgy mausoleum staging that puts so many people off Gilbert and Sullivan.One way around this problem is to play around with form. This charming film of arguably G&S's greatest work is thoroughly traditional in its staging, but takes a great deal of liberties with (admittedly cheap) special effects as it tries to approximate a gossamer fairy world intruding on the heavy formalism of the House of Lords. Strange camera angles, playful acting, witty bits of business, cheeky choreography and mock newsreel footage add up to a lively, if crude, performance, while retaining all the traditional pleasures - Gilbert's glorious word-play; his devastating social satire and mocking of popular modes of sensational and sentimental melodrama; Sullivan's brilliant tightrope act between parody and emotion. The sense of nightmare inherent in Gilbert's story of a Lord Chancellor whose love for his ward provokes the enmity of the Fairy World and the dissolution of his identity and the social assumptions he has long based on it, is brought brilliantly alive in the sequence near the end of Act 1 when the fairies engulf the Chamber; while the homosocial world Gilbert portrayed - playing on both meanings of the word 'fairy' - is deliciously foregrounded."
A Fine Iolanthe
Ted Zoldan | Los Angeles, CA, USA | 02/09/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Opera World Gilbert and Sullivan DVD series is a definite mixed bag, but this is one of the strongest entries in it. While not on the level of PATIENCE, THE GONDOLIERS and THE SORCERER, the video is a solid interpretation strongly cast.
As usual, the chorus and Orchestra perform well and Alexander Faris moves things along nicely at the podium. Luckily, there are no cuts except for a slightly abbreviated overture. The production has its definite pluses (Strephon's attempted suicide, the not-so dainty fairies hanging their wings out to dry and smoking cigarettes) and it's minuses (cheesy, overused superimposed special effects, the staging of the Act two Finale.). As for the infamous news reel, I feel it's a funny, workable gag, but it resembles a Benny Hill gag a bit too much for my taste (though Alexander Oliver is a joy to watch in this segment. His facial expressions are hysterical.)
Out of the performers, high marks go to Anne Collins' Fairy Queen, at her usual standard of beyond exemplary every line reading and phrase spun to perfection, and Kate Flowers, a completely charming Phyllis. She is a beautiful woman with a wonderfully expressive face, and her dialogue is delivered with apt humor. Musically, she is beyond reproach; I fell in love with her on sight. Also extremely effective is Derek Hammond-Stroud as the Lord Chancellor. A mainstay in the patter parts, he is in much better voice than he was in PATIENCE, and the lower tessitura of the role suits his Bass-Baritone better. He is very apt and dry in the dialogue. It's incredible to think that he also was ENO's leading Alberich in Wagner's RING for years, because the pathos he gives to the Lord Chancellor's legalistic troubles ("Can a man give his own consent to marry his own ward, etc?") is so keenly felt along with the humor.
We have David Hillman's expressive vocalism and foppish delivery put to good use as Tollollor, but Thomas Hemsley is too light for Mountararat. The same problem sets with Alexander Oliver's Strephon. He is a tenor rather than the usual lyric baritone. Though tenor John Fryatt made an effective Grovesner in PATIENCE, and I've heard effective Strephons who are tenors, but Oliver does not have the required heft, and he doesn't have the vocal power for most of the role. In his favor, the two dues with Phyllis and "In babyhood, upon her lap I lay," the meat of the role, go over very well. He's very, very funny in his spoken passages and he's an appropriate screen presence. When Strephon is transformed into a dark-suited, monocle-wearing MP He does a brilliant spoof on british bureaucratic figures.
As the tilter Iolanthe, Beverly Mills has a very attractive Mezzo, but the unrewarding part of Iolanthe does not offer many vocal high points with the exception of the exquisite "He loves" and she is only passable in the dialogue. Richard van Allen, a great Basso, is luxury casting as Willis (a Bass part too often given to Baritones) and what a pleasure it is to see two major sopranos as Lelia and Celia: my old favorite Sandra Dugale (who also was Patience, Rose Maybud and Casilda in the series) and Pamela Field (who was a leading soprano with the D'Oyly Carte in the early seventies and who recorded the role of Phyllis with them.) are both delightful. Judi Trott (an uncredited member of the chorus) speaks her lines as Fleta well. All in all, a highly entertaining, worthy version with many attractions. 4/5
5 Stars for The Real Gilbert and Sullivan
John Boland | USA | 08/29/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This review is mostly written for people who don't know "Iolanthe" because over here in America the musical isn't very famous and is seldom put on. I only learned about it myself by accident several years ago when it was produced by a local college in my area. I went to see it without knowing anything about it nor even having heard anything about it. I was bowled over by the genius of the music, comedy, story, humor and everything about this masterpiece as portrayed by the college music and drama students!
After seeing the play at the college, I started looking for CD music and VHS tapes and DVD's of Iolanthe. Apparently there are only TWO versions on video --- VHS or DVD---this one and one done in Canada by "The Stratford Festival Company". I have both of these. Is this one and the Stratford any good? Some reviewers apparently think not. But, the play---the words and music--- are "almost indestructable" in my humble opinion because of the genius of the two creators, Mr. Gilbert and Mr. Sullivan. Of course, the present versions----"they could be better" in this aspect or t'other. But, I am grateful that there are ANY video versions of this masterpiece available at all! Buy one or t'other of these...don't be too critical ("the glass is half full rather than half empty" type of attitude), listen to the music and the clever words, and I know you'll enjoy!
Afterword: One part of the musical play that I thought was especially funny and clever is the song, "Loudly Let The Trumpets Bray". This is the song and music when the arrogant lords, who are really silly things, come arrogantly marching on stage with their Beefeater Costumes and their noses arrogantly in the air. As they march on stage they sing: "Bow ye tradesmen bow ye masses, bow ye lower middle classes." They are acting as though they are "superior" to these "masses" thus telling the masses to bow to them---the Lords of The House of Lords. And, of course, these "noble lords" are actually very silly and stupid! The effect of being told to "bow" to these silly guys is very funny I assure you! :o) Email Boland7214@aol.co