Gilbert and Sullivan originally intended their operetta “Patience” to lampoon the church. Concerned about possible backlash, they poked fun of poets and the Aesthetic Movement instead.
The mid-19-century movement believed in art for art’s sake and the pursuit of beauty and self-expression over the moral strictness of the Victorians, who, in turn, mocked the movement.
“‘Patience’ is about people pretending to be poets and people pretending to love poets, and a dairy maid, who can’t understand people’s attachment to poetry,” said Felicity Ann Brown, who is directing the Victorian Lyric Opera Company production of the operetta. “She’s never been in love, and doesn’t understand why people want to be.”
“Patience” doesn’t get performed often, she added, “because it’s hard to explain to audiences – the language is so poetic, and it makes fun of a movement people are not familiar with. But the music is beautiful.”