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Arrrg, mateys! Pacific Symphony’s Family Musical Mornings sets sail for zany fun on the high seas and a child-friendly spin on Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Pirates Of Penzance”
Orange County, Calif. — January 19, 2016
Swashbuckling pirates, bumbling policemen, innocent young lovers and an eccentric major-general join in the boisterous fun for Pacific Symphony’s next Family Musical Mornings presented by Farmers and Merchants Bank, “The Pirates of Penzance: Opera for Kids!” This campy, comedic morning featuring the popular comic operetta by Gilbert and Sullivan is sure to send kids off singing the catchy tunes by the famous duo. Favorite songs include “I am a Pirate King!” and “I am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General.” This production for kids, led by the Symphony’s new Assistant Conductor Roger Kalia, is appropriate for all ages, but especially those ages 5-11. It includes costumes, scenic elements and projected visuals, and features both professional singers and talented students from Chapman University. The script was written and directed by Peter Atherton, and the role of the Pirate King is played by Symphony favorite, baritone David Stoneman.
The 45-minute concert takes place on Saturday, Feb. 6, at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Children and their parents are invited to join in the fun at the interactive Musical Carnival, where they can meet the performers, learn more about the opera, and enjoy musical arts and crafts activities themed to the morning’s concert. Carnival activities begin at 9 a.m. for 10 a.m. concertgoers and 12:15 p.m. for 11:30 a.m. concertgoers.
Concert tickets are $15-$40; for more information or to purchase tickets call (714) 755-5799 or visit www.PacificSymphony.org.
“Children who will be witnessing an operetta (a shorter-length opera with spoken dialogue) for the first time, might think of it as the ancestor to a movie,” says Maestro Kalia, who realizes the very word “opera” can be scary to both kids and adults. “You will see action in front of your eyes, but you will also see the soundtrack, as the musicians are on stage with the actors. Not only will these actors be singing, but there will also be spoken dialogue between musical scenes, also known as arias. Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘The Pirates of Penzance’ is also very funny and light-hearted, and the actors really capture the humorous side of these pirates.
“I absolutely adore the variety of music in ‘The Pirates of Penzance,’ ” he continues. “Many of the arias are fun and energetic, and Gilbert and Sullivan do a wonderful job of capturing the text in the orchestral music. One of my favorite moments is the ‘Major-General’s Song,’ which is known as a patter song. The Major General sings the song—a satire of the ideal modern British Army officer—when he first appears toward the end of the first act. It’s an incredibly difficult song to sing, not because of the range of notes, but the tongue-twisting nature and rapid execution of the hilarious lyrics. Another highlight is Mabel’s aria ‘Poor wandering one,’ where she sings in the extreme upper register of the voice.”
Told through the orchestra and a cast of singers, the famous tale (slightly rejiggered!) takes place more than 100 years ago along rocky seashore found on the Southern California coast, known as The Cove of the Black Crystal. The story centers around the coming of age of Frederic (tenor Duke Kim), indentured to tenderhearted pirates as a boy, and his desire to leave the buccaneer’s life.
The tale begins as the release of Frederic’s pirate apprenticeship is about to arrive after 21 years. He meets Mabel (played by soprano Emma-Grace Dunbar), the daughter of Major-General Stanley (played by baritone Elliott Wulff), and the two fall instantly in love. But love isn’t simple in this pirate world; Frederic learns that he was born on Feb. 29, which means that, technically, he only has a birthday each leap year. His indenture specifies that he remain apprenticed to the pirates until his 21st birthday and so he must serve for another 63 years! Frederick is torn between his own sense of duty and his love for Mabel, who agrees to faithfully wait for him. He soon decides that he must find a way to defeat the swashbucklers he’s known and loved all his life. As a result, Mabel and Frederic find themselves in the middle of a standoff between the Pirates and Police. Who will win? Attend the concert to find out!
“I get to dress up as a pirate!” exclaims Kalia. “Not only will I be conducting the music, but I’ll also be a part of the action on stage. Our stage director, Peter Atherton, has created a visually beautiful production with a variety of different costumes and props, all of which are complimented by the fantastic Pacific Symphony on stage.”
The cast also includes baritone Kristinn Schram Reed as Samuel, the Pirate Lieutenant; mezzo-soprano Erin Theodorakis as Ruth Frederick’s Pirate Nanny; mezzo-soprano Aumna Iqbal as Edith and soprano Alexandra Rupp as Kate, two of General Stanley’s other daughters; baritone Jeffrey Goldberg as the Sergeant of Police with mezzo-soprano Madilyn Crossland, soprano Yllary Cajahuaringa, tenor Marcus Paige, baritone Mark Peng and tenor Spencer Lawrence Boyd rounding out the chorus. Costumes are provided by the Rental Bootique, Santa Ana, and coordinated by Rosalind Britton.
For those unfamiliar, W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan were a British operetta-writing team that lived and composed music during the Victorian Era (1837-1901). An operetta is a special kind of opera that usually has a funny story and light and lively music. Gilbert wrote the words or lyrics of the operas, and Sullivan wrote all of the music. Theirs were some of the first operas to be written in English. Up until then most operas were written in other languages such as French, Italian and German.
Gilbert and Sullivan were very popular in the United States, yet “The Pirates of Penzance” was their only operetta to have its official premiere in the U.S. It remains popular today, taking its place along with “The Mikado” and “H.M.S. Pinafore” as one of the most frequently played operettas by the famous duo.
“One of my favorite aspects of leading the Family series is connecting and engaging with our young audience members,” says Kalia. “Seeing their eyes light up as they are watching the concert is a magical moment for me as a conductor. I am there to inspire, and knowing that I have made a difference in their lives in some way, is one of the most fulfilling and rewarding aspects of my job.”
The performances of “The Pirates of Penzance: Opera for Kids!” are generously underwritten by The Honorable H. Warren and Janet Siegel. And don’t miss Family Musical Mornings presented by Farmers and Merchants Bank when it continues on March 12 with “Symphony in Space.”
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