W.S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan’s
comic operetta “The Pirates of Penzance” was written in 1879. That
presents a few challenges for the Michigan State Opera cast, according
to director Melanie Helton.

“(They) need to understand the
conventions of 19th-century opera and a good deal of Victorian
history,” said Helton, an associate professor of voice in the College
of Music. “Then, they need to exaggerate just enough to make it
hysterically funny.”

“Pirates” tells the story of Frederic, a
pirate apprentice who falls in love with Mabel, the sheltered daughter
of a major-general, who despises swashbucklers. Frederic is torn
between pursuing his sweetheart or staying with his comrades. The
venerable musical was performed on Broadway in the early 1980s by Kevin
Kline, Linda Ronstadt and Rex Smith, and features such familiar tunes
as “Poor Wand’ring One” and “I Am the Very Model of a Modern

‘The Pirates of Penzance’

Michigan State Opera

8 p.m. Friday, Nov 18, and  Saturday, Nov. 19, 3 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 20

Fairchild Theatre, MSU A preview lecture will be held 45 minutes before each performance.

$20 adults; $18 fseniors; $10 for students and minors