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The Pirates of Penzance Come to William Kelley

Little Opera of the North, a division of Lyr­ic Opera of the North (LOON), brings live professional opera to young people in ele­mentary schools across the Arrowhead Re­gion. A sixteen-member student chorus per­forms alongside LOON.

LOON provides four professional singers, a pianist, props, a set, and costumes. The op­era production is adapted to make it appropri­ate for elementary-aged children, and is sung in English.

The Pirates of Penzance was the chosen operetta presented in schools this year. The operetta is adapted from the original Gilbert and Sullivan work. Students played the parts of pirates, the Major General’s wards, and the constables.

The operetta opens with pirate apprentice Frederic celebrating his 21st year. Through the music sung, we learn that Frederic’s par­ents initially intended for him to be appren­ticed to be a pilot, but through a mixup, Fred­eric became a pirate instead. Now freed from his apprenticeship, he resolves to become a law-abiding citizen.

Frederic goes ashore and meets Mabel and the wards. There’s love at first sight – or first song – between Frederic and Mabel, and he proposes. But the happiness is soon to end. The pirates appear and try to kidnap the wards to turn them into pirates. Mabel’s father is the Major General, though, and he convinces the pirates to leave his family alone by telling the pirates he’s an orphan, and to take away his family would make him lonely. Because the Searls pirates are all orphans, they sympathize with the Major General and refrain from kidnap­ping the wards.

Later that evening, the emotionally dis­traught Major General confesses to Mabel and Frederic that he lied to the pirates. He’s not really an orphan. But he’s afraid to tell this to the pirates, and hopes the Constables will scare away the pirates. Mabel encourag­es the Constables to be brave.

Another development is brewing – the Pi­rate King and Ruth, Frederic’s former nurs­ery maid turned pirate, find Frederic. They inform him that, although he has lived for 21 years, because he was born on a leap year, he’s only had five birthdays. Therefore, he’s only five and still an apprentice, as the con­tract clearly states he is to be apprenticed un­til his 21st birthday. Heartbroken but dutiful, Frederic rejoins the pirates.

Mabel summons the Constables to protect the wards, but they run away when they hear the pirates approach. The Major General ap­pears at an upstairs window, and the pirates hide. Mabel and the wards look for the Major General, and the pirates seize them. The Con­stables come back and demand the pirates surrender in the name of the Queen. Because the pirates are loyal subjects, they surrender, and the operetta ends joyfully.

Thanks to the Northern Lake County Arts Board and Duluth Superior Area Communi­ty Foundation – Silver Bay Charitable Fund for “sponsoring arts and arts education in our community.”

Haley Searls
Haley Searls
Hello! My name is Haley Searls. I’ve loved writing from an early age, though my nonfiction writing at five years old consisted mainly of weather and gardening reports. I still have some of those early articles: “It’s sunny.” “It’s still sunny.” “It’s raining.” I’m glad to say my writing has improved since then. I wrote a guest post for the Silver Bay Public Library blog, and was the writer/editor of the newsletter for my American Heritage Girls troop. I have been writing for the North Shore Journal since June 2022. Besides writing, I love reading, drawing, photography, music, and spending time with family and friends. Two books that have really influenced my writing are Reforming Journalism by Marvin Olasky and Writer to Writer by Bodie and Brock Thoene. As a journalist, I want to share positive community interactions and inspire people to make lasting connections. Article topics that interest me are ones which show community activities and involvement. Such articles include community events, youth accomplishments, library programming, small businesses, local history, local artists and authors, art programs, and cultural events such as theater and dance. If you have an article idea, email the North Shore Journal with my name in the subject line! I look forward to hearing from you!
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