Saturday, August 6, 2011

Opera 101—H.M.S. Pinafore

I am the monarch of the sea,
The ruler of the Queen’s Navee,
Whose praise Great Britain loudly chants.
(And we are his sisters, and his cousins, and his aunts!)

When at anchor here I ride,
My bosom swells with pride,
And I snap my fingers at a foeman’s taunts;
(And so do his sisters, and his cousins, and his aunts!)

But when the breezes blow,
I generally go below,
And seek the seclusion that a cabin grants;
(And so do his sisters, and his cousins, and his aunts!)

Last night, I saw yet another marvelous production by the Lamplighters.

Michael Belle as Ralph and F. Lawrence Ewing as Sir Joseph Porter.
Photo by Lucas Buxman, 2011.

H.M.S. Pinafore (or The Lass That Loved a Sailor) was Gilbert and Sullivan’s first real success and remains one of the most popular of the Savoy Operas. Really, with its infectious melodies, it’s hard not to like Pinafore—after all, even a modern Major-General can “whistle all the airs from that infernal nonsense Pinafore.” One of the highlights of last night was the joy of the elderly couple in front of me who couldn’t resist bopping along to the music.

Overall, the cast was uniformly strong and confirmed the wisdom of my decision to commit to a subscription this year. F. Lawrence Ewing and Behrend Eilers, who I loved as Jack Point and Wilfred Shadbolt in The Yeomen of the Guard this past February, were fabulous as Sir Joseph Porter and Captain Corcoran respectively. Another Yeomen veteran, Robby Stafford, really made the most out of Dick Deadeye, one of my least favorite roles in the canon.

Bill Bobstay (Chris Uzelac) and Dick Deadeye (Robby Stafford).
Photo by David Allen, 2011.

While not my image of Ralph Rackstraw, I certainly hope to see more of Michael Belle, a newcomer to the Lamplighters with a terrific operatic voice. Another impressive Lamplighters debut was that of Lindsay Thompson Roush, who played Josephine.

Lindsay Thompson Roush as Josephine. Photo by Lucas Buxman, 2011.

If you can, try to catch one of the remaining performances tonight at 8pm or tomorrow at 2pm at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, or next weekend in Mountain View.

Note: Pinafore is the Lamplighters first production of the 2011-2012 season. They will continue with their annual champagne gala and auction in November (which, had I known was titled It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Amazing Race Around the World in 79½ Days!, I might have added to my subscription), The Gondoliers (or The King of Barataria) in January, and a singalong Pirates of Penzance in March.

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