"Iolanthe", or "The Peer and the Peri", opened at the Savoy Theatre on November 25, 1882, three nights after the final performance of Patience at the same theatre, and ran for 398 performances.
Gilbert had taken pot shots at the aristocracy before, but in this "fairy opera," the House of Lords is lampooned as a bastion of the ineffective, privileged and dim-witted. The political party system and other institutions also come in for a dose of satire. Yet, both author and composer managed to couch the criticism among such bouncy, amiable absurdities that it is all received as good fun.
Both Gilbert and Sullivan were at the height of their creative powers in 1882, and many people feel that Iolanthe, their seventh work together, is the most perfect of their collaborations.