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Opera Theatre Of Saint Louis’ Festival Season Opens With ‘Pirates Of Penzance”

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis

The tents are up on the lawn of the Loretto Hilton Performing Arts Center as Opera Theatre of Saint Louis prepares to open its 2013 Festival Season with Gilbert & Sullivan’s comic masterpiece The Pirates of Penzance. Directed and choreographed by Sean Curran and conducted by Ryan McAdams, Pirates is the first of four productions that will be staged in repertory from May 25 until June 30.

Soprano Deanna Breiwick who sang the role of Johanna in last season’s production of Sweeny Todd, returns in the role of Mabel.  St. Louis native McAdams makes his OTSL debut with this production.

McAdams commented on the enduring success of Gilbert & Sullivan’s comic operas. “Sullivan was such a fabulous musician and such a great melody writer.  But also, he and Gilbert define these characters so specifically in such different ways. I always think that Sullivan writes music for these characters sort of the way that they would want to be seen in themselves.  It’s always the most optimistic version of themselves.” He added, “Somehow Gilbert and Sullivan don’t undercut each other, though.  They don’t work antagonistically against each other. The more romantic the music becomes, the more ridiculous the show becomes.  And the more ridiculous the show becomes, the more meaningful the music lands for us.”

Brewick added her thoughts on Pirate of Penzance from a singer’s viewpoint. “This piece is a real treat because you are dealing with such fun and ridiculous and at the same time, very human subject matter, and the music is so beautifully written on every level – the orchestration of it. The vocal lines are just stunning and like medicine for the voice.  It’s like you can settle right into it as an opera singer because it is essentially a bel canto piece the way the lines are written.  It’s great fun and really beautiful."

Curran explained the importance of the text to the success of Pirates. “The words are so brilliant – the rhyme schemes, the wonderful irony, the paradox. In our show, there’s a song just about that paradox.  So part of the virtuosity of the performers is getting all that information out in this incredibly rhythmic and difficult music.”

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis patrons are invited to picnic in the tent and on the lawn before the performance.  A preview is offered one hour before each performance in the Community Music School building just east of the Loretto Hilton.  Audience members are also encouraged to gather in the tent following each performance for refreshments and an opportunity to mingle with cast members.

The three other operas in the 2013 season are a double bill of Puccini’s Pagliacci and Leoncavallo’s Il Tabarro opening June 1, the world premiere of Terence Blanchard’s The Champion opening June 15 and Smetana’s The Kiss opening June 16.  All operas are sung in English and feature an orchestra made up of members of the St. Louis Symphony.

Deanna Breiwick, Ryan McAdams and Sean Curran were Steve Potter’s guests on Cityscape to discuss the season opening production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance.

Related Event

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis Presents Gilbert & Sullivan's "Pirates of Penzance"
May 25, 29 and 31, June 6, 12, 14 and 29, 2013
8:00 p.m.
Sunday, June 9, 2013
7:00 p.m.
June 22 and 26, 2013
1:00 p.m.

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis Presents Leoncavallo's "Pagliacci" and Puccini's "Il Tabarro"
June 1, 5, 7 and 13, 2013
8:00 p.m.
June 19, 25 and 29, 2013
1:00 p.m.
Sunday, June 23, 2013
7:00 p.m.

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Jazz St. Louis Present Terence Blanchard's "Champion"
June 15, 19, 21, 25 and 27, 2013
8:00 p.m.
Sunday, June 30, 2013
7:00 p.m.

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis Presents Smetana's "The Kiss"
Sunday, June 16, 2013
7:00 p.m.
June 20, 22, 26 and 28, 2013
8:00 p.m.

Loretto Hilton Performing Arts Center, 130 Edgar Road at Big Bend
(314) 961-0644
Opera Theatre of Saint Louis Website

Mary Edwards came to St. Louis Public Radio in 1974, just after finishing her Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She has served the station in a number of capacities over the years. From 1988-2014 she also taught an undergraduate class in radio production at Webster University. Mary was inducted into the St. Louis Media History Foundation Media Hall of Fame in April, 2017 and received the Gateway Media Literacy Partners' Charles Klotzer Media Literacy Award in 2012. Mary retired from St. Louis Public Radio in 2018, but still serves the station as a St. Louis Symphony Producer.
Alex is the executive producer of "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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