Lithograph from Iolanthe
Programme from 1883  

 DragonDiva Operatic Society


Dates and Venue August 20-23 and 27-30 @ 8.00pm, Sundays 2.00pm| Bernie Legge Theatre, Queen's Park, New Westminster

Reviewer Ed Farolan

In Music Director John Arsenault's programme notes, he writes that this opera, (or I believe the genre would be more appropriately called "operetta") is the seventh of Gilbert and Sullivan's 14 operas, first produced in 1882 in London's Savoy Theatre,and created somewhat of a stir. This work whose complete title is "Iolanthe, or the Peer and the Peri", is probably based on 18th century Danish poet Henrik Hertz's epic poem Kong Rena's Datter (King Rena's Daughter). Tchaikovsky did an opera version, Iolanta, which premiered in Moscow ten years later..

In fact this is what this show is all about: fairies...and Gilbert/Sullivan puts an added touch by satirizing many aspects of British government and law in it. Comedy ensues in this political commentary where the House of Lords meets the world of the Fairies and, between the world of immortals and mortals, it's obvious who triumphs.

This is the kind of operetta that appeals to audiences young and old alike. I liked the show. The almost full-house audience were quite delighted with the performance. I could see a lot of work was put into this by Artistic Director Jeanine Fynn as there were two casts involved. I attended the second day of performance with the second cast led by Dionne Sellinger who plays Iolanthe, a fairy who marries a mortal and has a son, Strephon, an Arcadian shepherd (Riley Mitchell) who is "immortal from head to waist but mortal waist down". He is in love with an Arcadian shepherdess, Phyllis (Szu-Wen Wang), a ward in the Chancery, and courted by all the Peers.

I was impressed by the singing, acting and dancing of this talented cast. I was particularly impressed by Janet Vandertol-Zathurecsky who embodies in her poise and voice the qualities of the divas of old. I was equally impressed by Szu-Wen Wang's singing, although I felt she needed to articulate the words more to make them understandable by the audience, especially for those who are sitting at the back of the theatre, as I was. All the other cast members worked hard well as a team.

Congratulations for a delightful show and I look forward to seeing your next Dragondiva production,

© 2009 Ed Farolan