Pirates of Penzance, The [The Pirates of Penzance; or, The Slave of Duty]
- David Russell Hulme
Operetta in two acts by Arthur Sullivan to a libretto by W(illiam) S(chwenck) Gilbert ; Paignton, Royal Bijou Theatre, 30 December 1879; New York, Fifth Avenue Theatre, 31 December 1879.
The nursemaid Ruth (contralto) mistakenly apprentices her charge, Frederic (tenor), to a pirate instead of a pilot. About to come of age, Frederic proposes to leave the outlaws and bring them and their Pirate King (baritone) to justice. Encouraged by his new love, Mabel (soprano), daughter of Major-General Stanley (baritone) – whose ‘I am the very model of a modern major-general’ is among the best-known Savoy patter songs – Frederic prepares to lead the Sergeant of Police (bass) and his men to arrest the pirates. (That the policemen are not without sympathy for the criminal is, however, clear from the celebrated ‘When a felon’s not engaged in his employment’.) Frederic learns, however, that since he was born in a leap year on 29 February he has not reached his 21st birthday and is consequently still apprenticed to the pirates. The problem is resolved when it is revealed that the outlaws ‘are all noblemen who have gone wrong’....