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A Genuine The Pirates of Penzance this week (01-10-21) on The Lyric Stage

Bridget D'Orly Carte, a daughter of the original producer of many of Gilbert and Sullivan's operettas, Richard D'Orly Carte, supervised the recording of The Pirates of Penzance we have highlghts from this week on The Lyric Stage. It is a traditional approach to the work, probably much like what G&S heard at the premiere, and that is a good thing. Most museum pieces are worth preserving, and it's fine to add beach balls, and clever slangy line changes, and high kicking dances and lascivious leering during the love duets like some recent productions of G&S, but don't call it Gilbert and Sullivan, and don't say Pirates is a boring musty piece that needs a "new" approach. When has a well done traditional Gilbert and Sullivan boring? "New" ways of doing old works, whether Shakespeare or G&S are usually just defensive moves to hide the fact that the directors and performers have no idea what they are doing to begin with.

It's Frederic's 21st birthday and at last he is free of his indenture to the Pirates of Penzance and free to marry his beloved Mabel, who he has just met. Or is he? Of course he isn't, we are in the world of Gilbert and Sullivan. After all, he was born on February 29th, a leap year, and so is really only 5 years old. To complicate things, Mabel, daughter of the Major General, and her bevy of beautiful sisters are accosted by the pirates. The major General organizes the police to attack the pirates, and asks Frederic to help - but he cannot, because of his oath to the pirates. But all is saved when Ruth, who got the infant Frederic into the whole Pirate situation to begin with, declares that the pirates are all noblemen gone astray, and therefore are worthy of the hands of the Major General's daughters.

John Reed is the Major General, Donald Adams the Pirate King, Phillip Potter sings Frederic and Valerie Masterson is Mabel. Other soloists and the chorus of the D'Orly Carte company and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra are conducted by Isadore Godfrey in this recording from the 1960's.