‘Pirates of Penzance’ opera brings music and laughter
Central Michigan University’s annual Opera Weekend brought good music and laughter with “The Pirates of Penzance” performance.
The shows took place at the Staples Family Concert Center in the Music Building on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. More than 450 people attended the opening night performance of the comedic opera on Friday.
The production was put on by CMU’s Opera Theatre with the CMU Orchestra, conducted by Director of Orchestral Studies José-Luis Maúrtua, providing the score.
“The underlying story is how the main character, Fredric, is torn between love and his sense of duty,” School of Music graduate assistant Adam Ignacio, who played the part of the Pirate King, said. “There’s also a lot of comedic action that goes on.”
Ignacio is an experienced opera singer and actor. The St. Johns native got his bachelor’s degree in vocal performance at CMU, and he is now in his first year studying for his master’s degree.
The cast had been rehearsing the show for six hours a week since the beginning of the semester. They met every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to practice singing, as well as to work on blocking and staging.
According to the Savoy Operas website, Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Pirates of Penzance” was first performed in 1879 in New York City. The play follows Fredric, a man who is an apprentice to a band of light-hearted pirates. After being freed from servitude on his 21st birthday, Fredric, played by East Lansing senior Nico Espinosa, plots to defeat the pirates. Along the way, he falls in love with the Major-General’s daughter, Mabel, played by Ann Arbor senior Marla Moore.
After he finished composing the opera, Arthur Sullivan of Gilbert and Sullivan, accurately predicted the show’s enduring popularity in a letter.
“I think it will be a great success,” Sullivan wrote. “For it is exquisitely funny, and the music is strikingly tuneful and catching.”
Though older members of the audience are more likely to be familiar with the opera, Ignacio said “Pirates of Penzance” is a show that has something for all age groups.
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