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The Pirates of Penzance

Die Piraten von Penzance oder der Sklave der Pflicht | Gilbert & Sullivan

Performance 10/21/2017  |  The Pirates of Penzance or, the Slave of Duty

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Sentimental pirates, cowardly police officers, droll adventure and lots of British humor. These are just a few of the ingredients that Gilbert and Sullivan included in their iconic comic opera. But no worries: the Musikalische Komödie is armed with their own pirate’s flag and iron hook! On the coast of Cornwall, the Pirates of Penzance are celebrating Frederic’s 21stbirthday and the completion of his pirating apprenticeship. But he’s only completed his studies as a courtesy: he has no intention of sailing the high seas, and would rather live a life of respectability. Which might not be so bad, as he’s just met Major General Stanley’s daughter, and wouldn’t mind marry her on the spot. But the pirates have their own code of ethics: Orphans are off-limits when it comes to marriage. They are gentlemen interested in honest marriages, and would never abscond with a woman. But of course the General knows of the Pirates’ Code, and knows how to save his daughters. Stanley claims that he himself is an orphan, making his offspring unmarriageable second-generation orphans. But the jig is up when Frederic – now an upstanding citizen – decides to bring his former Pirate brothers to justice, and calls in the police brigade. But not before a number of surprising twists…

The Pirates of Penzance celebrated its world premiere in 1879, and critics declared it a brilliant success for the writing duo. William Schwenck Gilbert’s libretto created a biting parody of Victorian England’s strict moral code, cloaked in spirited humor. Add to that Sullivan’s music – sprinkled with Verdi-esque coloratura passages, Schubertian intimacy, and a bit of Offenbachian mischievousness – and you easily have the apogee of 19th century slapstick comedy à la Monty Python. Cusch Jung, chief director of the Musikalischen Komödie, sets sail for new shores with this amusing adventure on the high seas.

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