Center for the Arts Presents Virginia Opera’s Production of ‘Pirates of Penzance’

Posted: November 2, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Virginia Opera will present this month its first traditional production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s ever-popular comic operetta, “Pirates of Penzance,” with all the high-spirited British humor and delightful music that has made it an audience favorite for more than a century.

The opera comes to the stage of Mason’s Center for the Arts on Friday, Nov. 30, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 2, at 2 p.m. A pre-performance discussion will be held 45 minutes prior to each performance on the Center’s Grand Tier.

Returning in the stage director’s chair is William Theisen, who staged Virginia Opera’s productions of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado” in 2001 and “H.M.S. Pinafore” in 1998, as well as Mozart’s “Magic Flute” in 2003.

Also returning to Virginia Opera is tenor Gary Briggle as the Major-General and soprano Alicia Berneche as Mabel.

Returning home to make his Virginia Opera debut in the role of Frederic is Richmond-native William Ferguson, whose sought-after tenor voice has been heard at the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Santa Fe Opera and at the famed Sydney Opera House with Opera Australia.

Also making their company debuts are two other Gilbert and Sullivan veterans: tenor Dominic M. Aquilino as the Pirate King and contralto Myrna Paris as Ruth. Aquilino received rave reviews for his performances of the role at Opera Cleveland and Dayton Opera, while a New York Times review of New York City Opera’s production earlier this year praised Paris for her “considerable clarity” as Ruth.

All performances will be conducted by Virginia Opera Assistant Artistic Director and Associate Conductor Joseph Walsh, who conducted last season’s highly acclaimed Virginia premiere of Carlisle Floyd’s American opera, “Susannah.”

“Pirates of Penzance” will be sung in English with Digitext Supertitles projected above the stage. The estimated performance time, including an intermission, is one hour and 54 minutes.

Tickets are $86, $72 and $44 (Friday), and $94, $78 and $48 (Sunday). Charge by phone at 888-945-2468 or visit

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