Iolanthe

Gilbert wrote the second verse of the Fairy Queen’s song, “Oh, Foolish Fay” as a tribute to Captain Eyre Massey Shaw, chief of London’s Metropolitan Fire Brigade.  Captain Shaw was, in fact, in attendance at Iolanthe’s Opening Night.  Lesley Hendrickson, the director for both our 1992 and 2004 productions of Iolanthe, felt that, delightful as this tribute was, “one cannot laugh at a footnote!”  She asked Holly Windle to write an alternative second verse to the song.

For inspiration, Holly drew on the great river that flows through the Twin Cities where the Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company is located.  During the performances in 1992 and again in 2004, as well as 2016, the second verse was enthusiastically received by our audiences.

Fairy Queen:

This fire that glows
    With lambent flame
I now expose
    To scorn and shame,
And out it goes
    In duty’s name.
Our fairy law
    Must be our guide;
We’re like a straw
    Upon its tide;
Its power raw
    A river wide.

Oh, river wide!
    Oh, Mississippi mighty!
Not wet enough to fully snuff
    The flames of Aphrodite.

Fairy Chorus:

Oh, river wide!
    Oh, Mississippi mighty!

Fairy Queen:

Not wet enough to fully snuff
    The flames of Aphrodite.

Fairy Chorus:

‘Phrodite!

In our 1992 production of Iolanthe, “Oh, Foolish Fay” sung by Lisa Drew, as the Fairy Queen, with the Fairy Chorus.

In our 2004 “revival” production of Iolanthe, “Oh, Foolish Fay” was sung by Kathryn Larsen, with the Fairy Chorus.

In our 2016 production of Iolanthe, “Oh, Foolish Fay” was sung by Deb Haas, with the Fairy Chorus.

Holly Windle also wrote an alternative lyric second verse to “Oh, Foolish Fay” for our Summer Concert performances of Iolanthe, with the Minneapolis Pops Orchestra, at the Lake Harriet bandshell.

This version was sung by Lisa Drew in our 1998 performance and April Hanson in our 2002 performance.

On fire that glows
    With heat intense
I turn the hose
    Of common sense,
And out it goes
    At small expense.
We must maintain
    Our fairy rule.
I’d even drain
    This limpid pool —
Of all the chain
    Of lakes the jewel.

Oh, lovely lake,
    Drown fervor’s flame and bury it.
Your waters drench, but cannot quench
    My passion great, Lake Harriet!