Opera is foreign in multiple ways. Not only are most operas performed in Italian, but most of us correlate opera with high society and culture--two things we don't often associate with comedy. Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance turns those notions on their heads in a historical comedy of errors that is the 2011-2012 season opener for Opera Idaho.
The Pirates of Penzance tells the story of an ex-pirate named Frederic and his efforts to escape a life of crime. Although Frederic's former compatriots weren't very successful at piracy, Frederic discovers success with women early on when he falls in love with Mabel. And it's literally love at first sight--Frederic has never seen a girl before.
The characters are hilarious and often rendered more like caricatures, especially the pirates and their king. And as with any good musical theater, it's the songs that carry you through. Most famous of these is doubtless the catchy tongue-twister, "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General." Just reciting the name is enough to trap the tune in your head for days.
Don't make the mistake of thinking opera is too highfalutin for the likes of ordinary folks. The Pirates of Penzance promises to deliver more than a few laughs.[ Video is no longer available. ]