The Pirates Of Penzance Tickets
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The Pirates Of Penzance
The Pirates of Penzance, or The Slave of Duty, is a comical opera comprised of two acts. It is one of the Savoy Operas, with its music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert. The opera's first premiered in New York City at the Fifth Avenue Theatre on December 31, 1879, where the show was a hit with audiences and critics and played successfully for over 3 months. It then premiered in London on April 3, 1880, at the Opera Comique. Here it ran for 363 consecutive performances.
Pirates is still popular today and has joined operas such as The Mikado and H.M.S. Pinafore as one of the most frequently played Gilbert and Sullivan operas of all time. In 1981 it was by Joseph Papp on Broadway and ran for 787 performances.
Premier of Pirates: 1879 - 1880
The Pirates of Penzance was the only Gilbert and Sullivan opera that had its premier in New York City. The reason for this was to prevent piracy of the play because at the time American law provided no copyright protection to foreigners. Their previous opera H.M.S. Pinafore that opened in London was a big hit and was quickly copied by over a hundred American companies paying no royalties to the creators. By launching Pirates in New York, Gilbert and Sullivan hoped to prevent further piracy by establishing the official production in America so that it would be protected by piracy laws. However, despite attempts by Gilbert, Sullivan, and their producer, Richard D'Oyly Carte, they were unable to successfully control the American performance copyrights over their operas.
Pirates was written by Sullivan in an unusal sequence whereby the acts were composed in reverse order. Sullivan arrive in New York with a completed Act II but Act I still existed only in sketches. Upon his arrival Sullivan discovered that he had left these sketches behind and so was forced to reconstruct the first act from memory. Being unable to recall the entire material Gilbert and Sullivan substituted parts of the opera's chorus from their earlier opera, Thespis.
Pirates of Penzance - A Brief Synopsis
Act I is set on the coast of Cornwall, where a young man named Frederic is celebrating admist the pirates the completion of his twenty-first year and the end of his apprenticeship. However, the celebrations are dampened when Frederick learns through the pirates' maid, Ruth, that when she was Frederic's nursemaid long ago she had made a mistake through being hard of hearing, and had had misheard Frederic's father's instructions to apprentice him to a ship's pilot. Instead she had sent to apprentice as a pirate.
In Act II, the Major-General in seen sitting at a ruined chapel on his estate, surrounded by his daughters. His conscience is tortured by the lie that he told the pirates, and his daughters attempt to console him. Soon the Sergeant of Police and his corps arrive and announce their mission to go forth to arrest the pirates, upon which the girls loudly express their admiration. The police facing impending slaughter at the hands of the fierce and merciless pirates remain unnerved by the girl's concerns and finally leave up on their mission.
Popularity of the Opera
Since the late 19th century, The Pirates of Penzance has been one of Gilbert and Sullivan's most popular and comical operas. After its unique triple opening and immense success in 1879-80, the opera was revived in London in 1888 and then in 1900. It was revived again for the Savoy repertory season in 1908-09. The D'Oyly Carte Opera Company in Britain played the opera on tour almost continuously from 1880-1884, and again in 1888. It re-entered the touring repertory in 1893 where it became a permanent act until the company closed in 1982.
The opera was also a hit in the U.S. since its opening in New York on New Year's Eve, 1879. Richard D'Oyly Carte launched four companies that toured across the United States that following summer and Gilbert and Sullivan personally trained each of the touring companies for a month in January 1880. Each company's first performance, whether in Philadelphia, Newark, or Buffalo was conducted by the composer.
At this time there was still no international copyright law and the first unauthorized New York production was made by the Boston Ideal Opera Company at Booth's Theatre in September 1880. In September 1961, the first non-D'Oyly Carte professional production in a country that had been subject to Gilbert's copyright was in Stratford, Ontario, Canada. In 1979, the Torbay branch of the Gilbert and Sullivan Society presented a centenary tribute to the world premiere performance of Pirates in Paignton, with a production at the Palace Avenue Theatre.