Pirates of Penzance or The Slave of Duty

By William Schwenk Gilbert (Libretto) and Sir Arthur Seymour Sullivan (Music)

Directed by Brian Bizzell

After the sensational success of H.M.S. Pinafore, many American performing companies presented unauthorized versions of that opera. Gilbert, Sullivan and Carte decided to prevent that from happening again by presenting official versions of their next opera, "The Pirates of Penzance", or "The Slave of Duty" simultaneously in the U.S. and the U.K. The opera premiered on December 31, 1879 at the Fifth Avenue Theater in New York with Sullivan conducting, and one performance was given on the previous day at the Royal Bijou Theatre, Paignton, England, to secure the British copyright. Finally, Pirates opened on April 3, 1880, at the Opera Comique in London, where it ran for 363 performances, having already been playing successfully for over three months in NY.

On December 10, 1879, Sullivan wrote a letter to his mother about the new opera, upon which he was hard at work in New York. "I think it will be a great success, for it is exquisitely funny, and the music is strikingly tuneful and catching." True enough! The Pirates of Penzance was an immediate hit and takes its place today as one of the most popular and enduring works of musical theater.

In The Pirates of Penzance, Frederic was as a child apprenticed to a band of tenderhearted, orphaned pirates by his nurse who, being hard of hearing, had mistaken her master's instructions to apprentice the boy to a pilot. Frederic, upon completing his 21st year, rejoices that he has fulfilled his indentures and is now free to return to respectable society. But it turns out that he was born on February 29 in leap year, and he remains apprenticed to the pirates until his 21st "birthday". By the end of the opera, the pirates, a Major General who knows nothing of military strategy, his large family of beautiful but unwed daughters, and the timid constabulary all contribute to a cacophony that can be silenced only by Queen Victoria's name. - Gilbert & Sullivan Archive

Produced by Madison Savoyards, Ltd. at U.W. Old Music Hall, 925 Bascom Mall, Madison

Performances: July 8-17, 2005

Performance Times: July 8-10, 14-17, 2005

Friday, July 8, 2005 - 7:30 PM; Saturday, July 9, 2005 - 7:30 PM; Sunday, July 10, 2005 - 3:00 PM; Thursday, July 14, 2005 - 7:30 PM; Friday, July 15, 2005 - 7:30 PM; Saturday, July 16, 2005 - 3:00 PM; Sunday, July 17, 2005 - 3:00 PM

Ticket Prices: (Assigned Seating) $25 Adults, $23 Seniors, $10 Students, $5 Children (under 13)

Call 608-231-9005 for reservations or more information.

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