A Bright and Breezy Production
10/22/2010 - & October 23, 24
Sir William Schwenck Gilbert & Sir Arthur Seymour Sullivan: The Pirates of Penzance
Sarah Jane McMahon (Mabel), Brian Anderson (Frederic), Curt Olds (Pirate King), Stephen Condy (Major-General), Craig Phillips (Police Sergeant), Korby Myrick (Ruth), Kevin Wetzel (Sam), Rebecca Sjöwall (Edith), Stephanie Foley Davis (Kate)
Arizona Opera Orchestra, Chorus, and Ballet, Henri Venanzi (chorus master), Melissa Lowe (choreography), Joel Revzen (conductor)
David Ira Goldstein (director), Doug Provost (lights), Chris Clapp (sets), AT Jones & Sons (costumes)
(© Tim Fuller/Courtesy of AZO)
People of Phoenix, lock up your daughters. The pirates have come to town.
Arizona Opera is opening its fortieth anniversary season with ever so vivacious, jubilant, and witty The Pirates of Penzance. This production signed David Ira Goldstein lives up to the reputation of Gilbert & Sullivan's popular and effervescent operetta. All the ingredients are in place for an evening of unmitigated and relentless fun that make the audience jump to their feet at curtain call: a treasure-trove of humor, polished singing and acting, striking sets and costumes, and dramatic lighting, under the royal blessing of Her Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria who, at curtain down, seems to purse her lips for fear of smiling.
Stephen Condy is a hilarious and quirky Major-General. In full regalia with hanging decorations and an epauletted red tunic, Condy is impeccable in the challenging patter-song “I am the very model of a modern Major-General”, probably the most famous aria in all Gilbert and Sullivan's operettas, and quite an arduous piece to enunciate.
Curt Olds is the swashbuckling, flamboyant Pirate King we expect, with a dark-toned baritone that fairs well in “Oh, better far to live and die.”
Sarah Jane McMahon is a ravishing and spirited Mabel. Not only does her voice possess the required agility for the part, but she also demonstrates enviable athletic skills: McMahon ends her first act aria “Poor wandering one” with splits, and exits the stage after “No, I am brave” performing three perfect cart-wheels.
Korby Myrick is an accomplished and energetic Ruth with a deep, captivating mezzo, and more plumes than her hat can handle in the second act.
As Frederic, tenor Brian Anderson fits the part with freshness and a mellifluous voice that carries through the house.
Supporting roles round up an even and talented cast: Stephanie Foley Davis as Kate, Craig Phillips as the Police Sergeant, Rebecca Sjöwall as Edith, and Kevin Wetzel as Sam.
The Arizona Opera chorus and ballet deliver an enthusiastic and dashing performance all throughout.
In the pit, Joel Revzen is his usual self: a reliable, experienced conductor, maybe just a little too uptight for this repertoire where more exuberance should be infused to this brilliant music. The orchestra plays well and responds to Revzen's firm baton accordingly.
This remarkable production augurs well for what is to follow in the 2010/2011 celebration season: Carmen, Turandot, Otello, and Abduction from the Seraglio.