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Welcome to the Tent!

President's Welcome

Welcome to Durham Opera Ensemble’s first and final live show of this academic year, The Pirates of Penzance! We are thrilled to finally have all of you back in the theatre with us after what has felt like an eternity. The collective groans of horror upon hearing that the 21st June date would be pushed back, followed by the collective sigh of relief that we would still be able to put on our show even with the lifting of restrictions pushed back could probably be heard across the country. The process has not been without its ups and downs over the past few weeks, but we hope that you enjoy the spectacle, and leave the theatre with an endless supply of frustratingly catchy tunes stuck in your head.

 

To say that we have had ups and downs over the past few weeks is perhaps putting it rather lightly. You will notice that this show will be using just a pianist rather than the usual full orchestra that DOE often prides itself on. Unfortunately, we received the sad news that our wonderful musical director, Anita Datta, would be unwell over the course of show week, and would not be able to either rehearse the orchestra, or conduct the shows. After much wrangling, the rest of the prod team decided to perform our shows only with piano accompaniment, as a lot of Gilbert and Sullivan is. Huge thanks must go to Valentina Addis, our assistant musical director, and Andy Salisbury and Adam Johnson, our pianists, for stepping in so late in the day and doing such a wonderful job in Anita’s absence. 

 

Just when we thought that was enough to contend with, we have had the joys of 9 members of our cast and crew going into isolation for various lengths of time over the past two weeks. It is a testament to their absolute commitment and strength of character that you will get to see a full performance of this show, and I can’t thank any of them enough for their patience and good humour through what has been a stressful and hectic term for all of us. In that regard, I would particularly like to thank our producer, Emily Orr, and our tech team, Sarah Panek and Josh Gordon, for their organisational calm, technical skill, and perseverance in dragging this show kicking and screaming to a point where it is actually watchable!

 

One aspect of the show we have never had to worry about has been the aesthetics of it. Although forced to be in isolation during show week, our director, Lauren Bagge (directing for the first time), has crafted a true spectacle. I would also like to thank Georgia Malkin for helping to choreograph the brief dance scenes, and Lily McNeill, our incoming president, for helping me to run rehearsals after Lauren and Anita had to pull out. I must also applaud the quiet work of Amanda Botelho, our costume designer, who has put together a vibrant and colourful gamut of Victorian-era finery. 

 

Of course, it is no secret that running a theatre company through a pandemic is financially demanding, and no president’s welcome would be complete without a quick plea for financial support! As one of the only UK university opera companies to put on three high-quality shows a year (in normal circumstances), every penny is extremely useful. If you would be interested in contributing to the society, please consider our patrons scheme. Contact either our current Patrons Officer Lily McNeill, or next year’s secretary Ava Cohen for more details at durham.operaensemble@durham.ac.uk

 

All that is left is for me to wish you an enjoyable evening, as we transport you to the rugged Cornish coastline, complete with burglary, deceit and of course, Pirates!

President’s Welcome

 

Welcome to Durham Opera Ensemble’s first and final live show of this academic year, The Pirates of Penzance! We are thrilled to finally have all of you back in the theatre with us after what has felt like an eternity. The collective groans of horror upon hearing that the 21st June date would be pushed back, followed by the collective sigh of relief that we would still be able to put on our show even with the lifting of restrictions pushed back could probably be heard across the country. The process has not been without its ups and downs over the past few weeks, but we hope that you enjoy the spectacle, and leave the theatre with an endless supply of frustratingly catchy tunes stuck in your head.

 

To say that we have had ups and downs over the past few weeks is perhaps putting it rather lightly. You will notice that this show will be using just a pianist rather than the usual full orchestra that DOE often prides itself on. Unfortunately, we received the sad news that our wonderful musical director, Anita Datta, would be unwell over the course of show week, and would not be able to either rehearse the orchestra, or conduct the shows. After much wrangling, the rest of the prod team decided to perform our shows only with piano accompaniment, as a lot of Gilbert and Sullivan is. Huge thanks must go to Valentina Addis, our assistant musical director, and Andy Salisbury and Adam Johnson, our pianists, for stepping in so late in the day and doing such a wonderful job in Anita’s absence. 

 

Just when we thought that was enough to contend with, we have had the joys of 9 members of our cast and crew going into isolation for various lengths of time over the past two weeks. It is a testament to their absolute commitment and strength of character that you will get to see a full performance of this show, and I can’t thank any of them enough for their patience and good humour through what has been a stressful and hectic term for all of us. In that regard, I would particularly like to thank our producer, Emily Orr, and our tech team, Sarah Panek and Josh Gordon, for their organisational calm, technical skill, and perseverance in dragging this show kicking and screaming to a point where it is actually watchable!

 

One aspect of the show we have never had to worry about has been the aesthetics of it. Although forced to be in isolation during show week, our director, Lauren Bagge (directing for the first time), has crafted a true spectacle. I would also like to thank Georgia Malkin for helping to choreograph the brief dance scenes, and Lily McNeill, our incoming president, for helping me to run rehearsals after Lauren and Anita had to pull out. I must also applaud the quiet work of Amanda Botelho, our costume designer, who has put together a vibrant and colourful gamut of Victorian-era finery. 

 

Of course, it is no secret that running a theatre company through a pandemic is financially demanding, and no president’s welcome would be complete without a quick plea for financial support! As one of the only UK university opera companies to put on three high-quality shows a year (in normal circumstances), every penny is extremely useful. If you would be interested in contributing to the society, please consider our patrons scheme. Contact either our current Patrons Officer Lily McNeill, or next year’s secretary Ava Cohen for more details at durham.operaensemble@durham.ac.uk

 

All that is left is for me to wish you an enjoyable evening, as we transport you to the rugged Cornish coastline, complete with burglary, deceit and of course, Pirates!

Hamish Garland

Director's Note

The music of Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘The Pirates of Penzance’ has this almost onomatopoeic quality, where you can hear the sea and society and silliness embedded right within the notes. It is for this reason that we decided to set our production in the original period of a Victorian British seaside, but zooming in on the convention of beach theatre. 

 

The characters you are about to meet are almost as if they’ve been plucked from a child’s toy box: chaotically different and on the trajectory of a fantastical story. We have the band of rough but sentimental pirates, Fredric: a young man of twenty one who is really only five, the very model of a modern Major General and his doll-like daughters all helped by a force of Punch and Judy-esque policemen. 

 

Thus a story of love, chaos, duty and satire ensues to transport you from a world of LFTs and breakout rooms to the puppet theatre-like stage of our production. 

 

None of this would have been possible were it not for our incredible cast and production team, who have all been ‘the slave of duty’ when it comes to achieving the best possible show in the current fairly nightmarish circumstances.

 

The singers have pulled out all the stops, throwing themselves into kick lines, fake moustaches and sword fighting, not to mention some of the fastest and highest music I have ever heard. 

A special thank you has to go to our wonderful musical directors Anita and Valentina who have achieved amazing music against all odds, and our producers Emily and Amanda who have kept us organised and gone above and beyond to source the best costumes. Our tech team, Sarah and Josh, have also been heroes in creating such a smooth running show, and our choreographer Georgia and fellow cast members Lily and Hamish have all done an incredible job producing parts of the opera whilst also performing in it.  

 

Lastly we want to thank you, our audience, for your support, without which we would have no reason to put on such an unpredictable, exciting, whirlwind of an opera.  

 

We hope you enjoy watching this show as much as we have enjoyed making it. 

Lauren Bagge

Pirates of Penzance Synopsis
Act I

A rocky seashore on the coast of Cornwall

 

The pirates offer a toast to Frederic who is celebrating his 21st birthday and the end of his apprenticeship. Ruth, a maid who also works with the pirates, explains that when Frederic was younger she was instructed by his father to have the small boy apprenticed to a pilot, but she misheard and instead took Frederic to a pirate.

 

Now that his obligation to the pirates has ended, duty compels Frederic to devote himself to destroying them. When the men admit their inability to make piracy pay, Frederic explains that they are themselves slaves to their tender hearts, particularly regarding their refusal to take advantage of anyone they believe to be an orphan. Frederic wishes he could bring the pirates back to a respectable life, but the Pirate King rejects that possibility.

 

Ruth longs for Frederic to take her with him when he leaves. He admits that he is reluctant to marry her, though he is satisfied that, despite her age, she is beautiful. But when he sees a group of lovely young women approaching, he rages at her for deceiving him.

 

The young women are astonished to encounter Frederic and horrified to hear that he is a pirate. He assures them that he only wants to love one of them. They all reject him except Mabel.

 

The pirates surprise the girls and anticipate soon becoming their husbands. Their father, the Major General, enters and objects to the girls being married against their wills to pirates. He lies his way out of the situation by claiming to be an orphan. The girls are released from the pirates’ clutches, as Mabel and Frederic – ignoring the pleas of Ruth – look forward to their marriage.


 

Act II

On Major-General Stanley’s estate: a ruined chapel by moonlight

 

The Major-General believes his lie about being an orphan has shamed the family name and he fears the consequences. Frederic will soon march against the pirates accompanied by the police.

 

Ruth and the Pirate King enter. They explain that Frederic was to be apprenticed until his twenty first birthday but having been born in a leap year on 29 February, he is officially only five. The Pirate King insists that Frederic respect his own sense of duty, whereupon the obedient young man informs him that the Major General lied about being an orphan. The Pirate King and Ruth swear vengeance.

 

Frederic informs Mabel that he will not reach his twenty-first birthday until 1940. Convinced that he can ignore the pirates’ claim, she begs him to remain with her and swears to be faithful, even though he is a slave of duty and feels compelled to re-join the pirates.

 

Afflicted by insomnia, the Major General enters. Frederic and the pirates seize the Major General and overcome the police. When the Sergeant implores the pirates to yield in the Queen’s name, Ruth reveals that they are in fact peers of the realm. With this revelation, they are pardoned by the Major-General, who rewards them with the girls’ hands in marriage.

Pirates of Penzance - Show Structure

Overture 

 

Act I

 

  1. Opening Chorus of Pirates and Solo - Pour, oh pour the pirate sherry

  2. Song (Ruth) - When Fred’ric was a little lad

  3. Song (Pirate King and Chorus) - Oh, better far to live and die

  4. Recitative and Duet (Ruth and Frederic) - Oh! False one, you have deceived me

  5. Chorus of Girls - Climbing over rocky mountain

  6. Recitative (Edith, Kate, Frederic and Chorus) - Stop, ladies, pray!

  7. Aria (Frederic and Chorus of Girls) - Oh! Is there not one maiden breast?

  8. Air (Mabel and Chorus) - Poor wand’ring one

  9. (Edith, Kate and Chorus of Girls) - What ought we to do? Gentle sisters, say!

  10. Duet (Mabel and Frederic, and Chorus of Girls) - How beautifully blue the sky

  11. (Frederic and Chorus of Girls and Pirates) - Stay, we must not lose our senses

  12. Recitative (Mabel, Major-General, Samuel, and chorus) - Hold, monsters!

  13. Song (Major-General and Chorus) - I am the very model of a modern Major-General

  14. Finale Act I (Mabel, Edith, Kate, Frederic, Samuel, Pirate King, Major-General, Ruth, and Chorus) - Oh! Men of dark and dismal fate

 

Act II

 

  1. Introduction. Solo (Mabel and Chorus) - Oh! Dry the glist’ning tear

  2. Recitative (Frederic and Major-General) - Now, Frederic, let your escort lion-hearted

  3. Chorus, with solos (for Mabel, Edith and Sergeant) - When the foeman bares his steel

  4. Recitative and Trio - Now for the pirates’ lair!

  5. Trio (Ruth, Frederic and King) - When you had left our pirate fold

  6. Trio (Ruth, Frederic and King) - Away, away, my heart’s on fire!

  7. Recitative and Duet (Mabel and Frederic) - All is prepared! Your gallant crew await you!

  8. Duet (Mabel and Frederic) - Stay, Frederic, stay!

  9. Recitative (Mabel, etc., Chorus of Police) - No, I’ll be brave! Oh, family descent

  10. Song (Sergeant and Chorus) - When a felon’s not engaged in his employment 

  11. Song (Sergeant and Chorus of Pirates and Police) - A rollicking band of pirates we

  12. Song (Samuel and Chorus of Pirates) - With cat-like tread

  13. (Frederic, Pirate King, Major-General, Police and Pirates) - Hush! Hush! Not a word

  14. Song (Major-General and Chorus of Pirates and Police) and Finale - Sighing softly to the river

Cast and Crew

Major General Stanley - Ben Osland does not regret auditioning for an opera amidst the final crushing weeks of his music degree submissions. Everything turned out okay, and he is very excited to show you the fruits of his and all the cast's labour with one of the most enjoyable shows you could possibly work on.

 

Frederic - Hamish Garland is a fourth year French and Spanish student, who has been a member of DOE since his first year, performing in HMS Pinafore, The Travellers' Tale and Iolanthe, as well as being producer for Iolanthe and Die Fledermaus. Although his tenure as this year's president has been somewhat ruined by Covid, he hopes you enjoy what will be his final show with DOE before doing a PGCE next year.

 

Mabel - Born in Hudiksvall Sweden, Mathilde Brun has always been singing but started her musical journey as a cellist. Currently a second year music student from St.Aidan’s College, she is excited to explore the role of Mabel in Pirates of Penzance, her very first Gilbert and Sullivan Opera.

 

Samuel - James Barber is a first year Geography student from St Cuthbert’s Society. He is thrilled to finally be able to be involved in some live theatre at university, and DOE’s Pirates of Penzance is the perfect step into Durham’s vibrant theatre scene. 

 

Pirate King - Edward Wenborne is a third year student studying Classics. This is his final show with DOE, bringing it full circle as his first show with the company was Gilbert and Sullivan's Iolanthe. He is very happy to be able to perform again with DOE live on stage after the small break of a world pandemic.

 

Ruth - Olivia Jones is a third year Classics student at St John’s. This is her fourth production with DOE, having previously performed in Iolanthe, Noye’s Fludde, and finally as Olga in Eugene Onegin. After over a year, she can’t wait to get back to performing in front of real people instead of her phone.

 

Edith - Lily McNeill is a second year music student whose love and interest in opera started when she was eight years old with Opera North Children’s Chorus. Since then she’s toured across England and Europe with various operas. Her first show with DOE was Eugene Onegin and she is thrilled to be performing live again.

 

Kate - Emma Burke is a music finalist at Josephine Butler College. She has been heavily involved with DOE throughout her time at Durham, singing the soprano solo in Elijah and playing the part of Leila in Iolanthe. Emma is excited to be playing the role of Kate in her final show in Durham.

 

Isabel - Emily Tarbuck is a first year at St John’s College, studying history. She has enjoyed getting involved in student theatre this year despite the challenges posed, taking part in both pre-recorded productions and audio dramas. Her first experience of opera was playing Josephine in an abridged version of HMS Pinafore, and she is excited to be able to return to Gilbert and Sullivan in Durham.

 

Sergeant of Police - James Eyles is a third year chemist looking forward to a research masters next year. He has sung in the university chamber choir and castle chapel choir throughout his time at Durham and is excited to have his first taste of theatre with DOE as the police sergeant.

 

Pirate - Natalie Rengger is a first year in Trevelyan College studying politics and Spanish. This is her first time performing with DOE, and first time doing light opera at all, and it's been a great production to get back into the swing of live theatre with.

Pirate - Rowan is somehow still a first year student from Grey, but now studying maths and philosophy. This is his first time at DOE or in fact any opera/theatre based escapade at Durham and therefore is very happy that his first role is prancing around on stage being a pirate.

 

Pirate - Georgia Malkin is a fresher studying maths at Stephenson and is delighted to get involved with her first DOE show playing a pirate and choreographing!

 

Pirate - Lydia Campbell is a final year Liberal Arts student at Van Mildert college. She is looking forward to being in Pirates, which is her first show with DOE.

 

Policeman - James Murray is a 2nd year physics student from John Snow. He is excited to be in the police chorus and is looking forward to being beaten up by a group of pirates.

 

Policeman - Thomas Rayner is a second year Music student, who loves opera and travel and is happy to be able to indulge in at least one passion this evening!






 

Director - Lauren Bagge is a second year music student from Castle. This is both her first time directing and working with DOE. She’s super excited to have been able to put on a show, especially one as large as this, and hopes you enjoy it as much as she has.

 

(Assistant) Musical Director - Valentina Addis is a second year music student from Hild Bede. Performing as a cast member in last year’s DOE production of Eugene Onegin, Valentina has thoroughly enjoyed undertaking the role of assistant musical director. Working on the production team, Valentina has benefitted from learning from those around her, whilst taking an active leadership role and enjoying guiding and advising the cast as they brought the production to life.

 

Producer - Emily Orr is a third year Law student at St Cuthbert’s Society. She is the Vice-President of her own college’s theatre company, 12 South Theatre Company, but this is her first production working with DOE. It has truly been a wonderful experience. The range of talent displayed across the whole cast and crew has been lovely to see, and she is looking forward to having a theatre back in action once again!

 

Assistant Producer and Costume Designer - Amanda Botelho is a final year BA Music student at Durham University. Having completed her ATCL in Piano before coming to Durham, she is at present working towards a DipABRSM in singing. She has previously been a choral scholar at St. Chad’s College Choir, sung as a deputy with the Royal Northern Sinfonia Chorus. She has performed with DOE in the Travellers' Tale, Die Fledermaus, Iolanthe and Eugene Onegin, and co-musical directed 'An Introduction to Opera'. Pirates of Penzance is her sixth show with DOE.

 

Tech Director - Sarah Panek and although she’s lost count, she has done more shows than Josh. “Please wake me up once the overture is finally over so we can start the show”.

 

Assistant Tech Director - Josh Gordon has lost count of how many shows he’s done with DOE over his time in Durham. Unfortunately it will be his last, but hopefully this can be as good as his first to complete the Gilbert and Sullivan cycle.