It’s a fact of opera in Knoxville: You have two chances and two chances only to see each production mounted by Knoxville Opera. The first production of the 2016 – 2017 season, “Pirates of Penzance,” will be staged tomorrow night at 7:30 in the Tennessee Theatre and again on Sunday in the same venue at 2:30 PM. Music Director and Conductor Brian Salesky, Stage Director Brian Deedrick and Lighting Designer John Horner have put together a fun production which should delight both opera veterans and novices.
The action starts with a pirate celebration of the twenty-first birthday of Frederic, a pirate apprentice played by Joshua Kohl. He informs the pirates his duty is up and he will leave them and work to destroy them. His nursemaid, Ruth, played by Jenni Bank, confesses that he became a pirate apprentice because of her poor hearing: He was supposed to be apprenticed to a pilot.
Frederic leaves the pirates and falls in love with Mabel, played by Claire Coolen. Pirates attempt to capture Mabel and her sisters, but their father arrives just in time. Major General Stanley, played by Robert Orth, not only saves the day by claiming to be an orphan (the pirates can’t harm an orphan), he also steals the show with his rendition of what may be Gilbert and Sullivan’s most famous song, “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General.”
As always, the sets, brought in for the productions, are visually appealing and the performances are excellent. Of particular note, the vocals of Joshua Kohl are excellent and Claire Coolen’s vocal range and control in the very demanding role are beyond superb. The vocals highlight the reason I enjoy the opera as much as I’ve come to enjoy it: I can close my eyes and enjoy the music provided by the cast and members of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. I can simply watch the choreography and set. I can follow the plot and laugh or cry accordingly. Taken all together, it makes for an overwhelmingly engaging experience.
The photographs shown here were taken at last night’s final dress rehearsal and the video included is not the cast of this production. I’ll have additional photographs later on the Inside of Knoxville Facebook Page. The opera lasts two-and-one-half hours and includes an intermission. It is perfectly family friendly and is performed in English, so it’s more readily accessible than some productions. If you’d like tickets, you’ll find them here, ranging from $21 to $99. I hope to see you there.
Finally for today: Thank you. Inside of Knoxville has been voted Best Blog and Best Facebook Page in the 2016 Top Knox Reader’s Poll in the Knox Mercury. I can never express how much I appreciate you for reading this blog, for supporting me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and for giving me the opportunity for this great ride. Thank you a million times over. You can see all the winners here.