A pirate with a strong sense of duty is spending sixty of years of his life at the line of duty. He has left behind the love of his life. She is keenly waiting for his return but sixty three years is a long time. Anything can happen in this comical opera -- The Pirates of Penzance. It is a two act presentation by Arthur Sullivan and Gilbert, which has gained immense critical appreciation and commercial success at the same time. This opera has been recognized as an exceptional piece of art by various critics.
The Pirates of Penzance made its debut at the Fifth Avenue Theatre of New York in 1879.A year after it was featured at the Opera Comique in the UK as well. It completed three months success at New York and the curtains were raised 363 times in the UK. It has been showcased several times in the US and UK since then. It ran successfully for an entire century at the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company. The show has been modernized to suit the recent times but still remains one of the popular operas in theatric history.
The Pirates of Penzance is one of the best works done together by Sullivan-Gilbert duo. Their other famous works include H.M.S. Pinafore and The Mikado. They have done over fourteen operas with each other in the Victorian-era and have been able to set off many new trends in the comic opera worlds. Gilbert has been known for creating topsy-turvy world with his words. His fanciful world has been a representation of the magical realism. The hard-hitting realities of the world meet imaginative fantasies. These magical intricacies gel in with perfectly with the disparate melodies of Sullivan. His music has the power to create memorable numbers which simultaneously brings out humor yet underlies pathos.
The story of the opera revolves around a rookie pirate, Frederic. He has just turned 21 and has been released from his duty with Pirates. He is enjoying his newly gained freedom when he comes across the beautiful Mabel. She is Major General Stanley’s daughter and taken by her beauty, the two instantly fall in love. The things take a downturn for them, when Frederic finds out that he was born on 29th of February. This leads to the fact that his birthday comes after every four years. He feels burdened by the weight of his conscience and decides to return to his apprenticeship for another 63 years. His only consolation in this entire situation is that Mabel promises to wait for him, while he is off to complete his term.
The music of this Opera remains the most striking aspect of the entire show. Sullivan took inspiration from some of the greatest legends in the musical world to recreate the awe, while maintaining his own originality. The harmony of this duo is a rarity commended by the critics. The music and lyrics are interwoven so closely and firmly that it’s hard for anyone else to achieve that. Some of the most popular numbers from the album are Climbing over rocky mountain, With cat-like tread, How beautifully blue the sky, Oh happy day with joyous glee, I am the very model of a modern Major-General, Ah leave me not to pine and Pray observe the magnanimity.
The whole opera is weaved around the exaggerated comical absurdity. It is meant to bring out the pathos and suffering in a light hearted way. The comical aspect was further highlighted in the Joseph Papp’s version of the Pirates. He didn’t change the original libretto but altered the treatment of the score and orchestration. His version of the show earned Tony Award for the best revival on Broadway and Drama Desk Award for outstanding musical. The show has proven its operatic excellence over and over again. This brilliant masterpiece is showcased in theatres again. If you are up for this musical comedy then you can order The Pirates of Penzance Tickets now!
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