by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan
Friday, April 7, 2017 at 7:30 PM
Saturday, April 8, 2017 at 7:30 PM
Sunday, April 9, 2017 at 2:00 PM
Comic mayhem ensues when a rollicking band of pirates plots to keep a young man from leaving their employ. Mistakenly apprenticed as a child, Frederick was to be released on his 21st birthday but, alas, being born on February 29th, he’s technically only five years old. Appearing on the Palm Beach Opera stage for the very first time, W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance is an uproarious comedy with razor-sharp wit, and a brilliant score full of memorable melodies that will have you humming (or rather pattering) long after you leave the theater!
Sung in English with English translations projected above the stage.
Palm Beach Opera would like to sincerely thank the following members of our Co-Producer Program, and our additional sponsors for helping to make this performance possible:
The Pirates of Penzance: Mr. and Mrs. William G. Brown
The Pirates of Penzance – Chief Conductor Sponsor: Ari Rifkin
The Pirates of Penzance – Stephanie Blythe Appearance Sponsor: Toni and Martin Sosnoff
The Pirates of Penzance – Opening Night Sponsor: Gladys and Sy Ziv Foundation
The Pirates of Penzance: Mr. Sanford Baklor and Ms. Arlene Kaufman
The Pirates of Penzance: Dr. and Mrs. Hans D. Baumann
The Pirates of Penzance: Dr. and Mrs. David Kosowsky
The Pirates of Penzance: Mrs. Annette Y. Friedland
The Pirates of Penzance: Mr. and Mrs. Robert Fromer
The Pirates of Penzance: Mr. and Mrs. Paul A. Goldner
The Pirates of Penzance – Season Concertmaster Sponsor: Mr. and Mrs. Charles Gottesman
The Pirates of Penzance: Mr. and Mrs. John Pohanka
The Pirates of Penzance: Mr. and Mrs. Jack Purdy
The Pirates of Penzance: Mr. Bruce Beal and Mr. Francis V. Cunningham
Co-Producer Society Season Opening Celebration Hosts: Drs. Henry and Marsha Laufer
Supertitles Sponsor: Palm Beach Opera Guild
Stephanie Blythe* – Ruth
Hugh Russell* – Major General Stanley
Michael Todd Simpson – The Pirate King
Andrew Stenson* – Frederic
Sarah Joy Miller – Mabel
Mark Schnaible – Sergeant of Police
Tobias Greenhalgh – Samuel
Danielle MacMillan^ – Edith
Tara Curtis^ – Kate
Kasia Borowiec^ – Isabel
*Palm Beach Opera debut
^Benenson Young Artist
Additional cast information will be listed as it becomes available.
Cast subject to change.
During the time of Queen Victoria, on the rugged coast of Cornwall, Frederic celebrates his twenty-first birthday, marking the end of his apprenticeship to a band of pirates. Frederic explains to the pirates that he will be leaving them since he is now free from the obligations of his indentures. His nursemaid Ruth, who became a pirate in order to remain with him all these years, steps forward to reveal that he had only remained with them for so long out of a sense of duty, admitting that she misunderstood the instructions of Frederic’s father, and mistakenly apprenticed him to be a pirate instead of a pilot.
Frederic also announces that, although it pains him, it will be his responsibility as an upstanding citizen to destroy pirates. In his last moments as a member of their band though, he feels obligated to point out that they are not successful pirates: since they consider themselves orphans, they allow any of their victims who claim to be orphans to go free. Frederic notes that this is widely known, and therefore captured ships’ entire companies routinely claim to be orphans to avoid death. He invites the pirates to give up their pirating ways and go with him so that he would no longer need to destroy them. The Pirate King responds to Fredric that, compared with respectability, piracy is relatively honest. The pirates depart, leaving Frederic and Ruth behind.
During his time with the pirates, Frederic had never seen another woman, and the considerably older Ruth tries to capitalize on his ignorance by convincing him to marry her. He nearly agrees until a group of beautiful young girls approach on the beach. Realizing he has been deceived, he sends Ruth away and then asks the girls if any of them would marry him out of pity. Mabel is glad to engage herself to such a handsome man, and agrees to help him reform his life. Meanwhile, the pirates have surrounded the group and leap out to seize the girls, claiming them as their brides. Mabel warns them that all the girls are wards of a Major-General, who soon arrives on the scene. Having heard of the famous Pirates of Penzance, he claims to be an orphan to elicit their sympathy. The soft-hearted pirates are moved to tears and release the girls, making the Major-General and his daughters honorary members of their band.
Tortured by the lie he told the pirates, the despondent Major-General is surrounded by his daughters who attempt to console him. Meanwhile, Frederic has mobilized the police and plans to lead them into battle against the pirates that very evening. The Pirate King and Ruth secretly arrive to have a word with Frederic. They explain to him that they now realize his apprenticeship contract was to indenture him until his twenty-first birthday. Because his birthday happens to be on the 29th of February, which only comes about every four years, he has technically only had five birthdays. A slave of duty, Frederic sadly agrees to rejoin the pirates, and then feels obliged to inform the Pirate King of the Major-General’s lie. Outraged, the Pirate King declares revenge. Before returning to the ship, Frederic breaks the unfortunate news to Mabel, who pleads with him to stay but ultimately supports his dutiful sacrifice. They swear to remain true to each other until his apprenticeship is finally finished, sixty-three years hence.
Frederic departs and prepares to now lead the pirates against the Major-General. The police hide when they hear the band approaching, and the pirates hide when they see the Major-General, who is fraught with guilt and wandering about in his night robe. When the girls come looking for their father, the pirates suddenly attack and the police are easily defeated. The Pirate King tells the captured Major-General to prepare for death. However, knowing that all Englishmen love the Queen, the police demand that the pirates concede in the monarch’s name, which they do. Just as they are to be led to prison, Ruth reveals that the pirates are actually noblemen who have gone astray. The Major-General forgives the noble pirates, and encourages them to marry his daughters and return to their former lives in Parliament.
Photo: Ken Howard for Opera Theatre St. Louis