America's foremost Gilbert & Sullivan repertory ensemble, the New YorK Gilbert & Sullivan Players (NYGASP), will conclude its 37th anniversary season with "Iolanthe" on Saturday, May 19th (3PM) at Peter Norton Symphony Space (2535 Broadway at 95th Street). This is a one weekend only event -- three performances only -- Saturday, May 19th (3PM & 8PM) & Sunday, May 20th (3PM).
Under the artistic and music direction of Albert Bergeret, the company has presented over 2,600 performances throughout the United States, Canada, and England. Incorporating a 25-piece orchestra, its productions feature contemporary energy while retaining a traditional respect for each of the G&S masterpieces. New YorK Gilbert & Sullivan Players is considered by many to be the nation's "leading custodian of the G&S classics."
Albert Bergeret comments on the production:
"I've always been candid in saying that Iolanthe ranks at the top of my personal G&S list. Despite its completely fanciful premise involving fairies and fairyland, Gilbert's topsy-turvy plot is consistent than most of his other works, and his commentary on human nature, human foibles, and political institutions is nowhere more incisive. The central character of The Lord Chancellor has three brilliant patter songs --- the most for any G&S character --- including the grandfather of all such – his "Nightmare Song." He personifies not only the silly comedian but also a sympathetic father figure, and a genuinely conflicted older man in love with a younger woman. The scene where the title character, an immortal fairy named Iolanthe, reveals herself as The Lord Chancellor's presumed long dead wife is perhaps the most moving moment in all of the Gilbert & Sullivan repertory. The contrasting nature of the flighty ensemble of fairies and the exceedingly stodgy group of peers sets up a delicious battle of the sexes that is both flirtatious and combative. Sullivan's exuberant score, with one of his best overtures, adds immensely to appreciation of the piece, including ingenious and evocative references to Mendelssohn, Handel, and Wagner."
Iolanthe, or The Peer and the Peri centers on the burning question, can a man who is half a fairy find happiness in a world where to marry a mortal is a capital offense? When the Fairy Queen's best friend, Iolanthe, returns to fairyland after a 25 year banishment for having committed such a crime, she tells her fairy sisters that she has a son, Strephon, a man who has the mixed blessing of being half a fairy. When Strephon is thwarted in his attempts to marry the beautiful Phyllis by a group of stodgy politicians from the House of Lords and a deliciously conflicted Lord Chancellor, he calls upon the supernatural powers of his newly discovered "aunts". The ensuing impasse results in a riotous battle of the sexes which cannot be resolved until Iolanthe, following her motherly instincts, puts her life on the line to reveal that the Lord Chancellor is her husband and Strephon's father. But all fairy tales have happy endings, so the fairy law is amended, allowing everyone to get married and perhaps change their minds afterwards. As Strephon says, "That's the usual course!"
The NYGASP 2011-12 season is made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, celebrating 50 years of building strong, creative communities in New York State's 62 counties.
Performance times for Iolanthe at the Peter Norton Symphony Space (2535 Broadway at 95th Street) are as follows: Saturday, May 19th (3PM & 8PM) & Sunday, May 20th (3PM).
G&S FEST tickets are priced from $87 to $67, with $8 off for seniors and half price tickets for children 12 and under. Information and tickets can be obtained by phoning (212) 864-5400 or by visiting www.nygasp.org. Discounted multiple buy ticket packages are available only through the NYGASP office at 212-769-1000.