February 9, 2017
Last weekend, the Hamilton College Choir performed The Pirates of Penzance; or, The Slave of Duty. Gilbert and Sullivan’s satirical opera cheered the audience in Wellin Hall, as it has been doing to audiences since its original performance in 1879.
The choir started learning the music in November, under the direction of Professor of Music Rob Kolb, and their hard work really showed in the ensemble’s performance. The show follows Frederic (Benjamin Joseph Goldman ’17), as he is freed from his indentured servitude and enters into the world. Apprenticed to a group of tender-hearted and lively pirates, the only woman to ever be in Frederic’s life is Ruth (Adelaide Fuller ’17). However, Frederic is soon captivated by all the beautiful Wards–more beautiful than Ruth–when he realizes all that he has been deprived of.
Soon after Frederic encounters the Wards, he meets his love interest Mabel (Catherine Macleod Daigle ’17). Daigle’s operatic, soprano voice was beautiful in their love ballad, “Stay, Frederic, Stay!” Daigle’s was not the only performance to impress the audience of this year’s annual choir musical, though.
The two sets––a seashore on the coast of Cornwall and a ruined chapel by moonlight––allowed for captivating moments, from ensemble numbers to duets between lovers Frederic and Mabel.
For a while, Frederic and Mabel are blissfully happy, and so is the audience. It is clear, though, that the pirates do not want to let Frederic go so easily, for they go to extreme measures to persuade him to stay. They attack the Wards’ father, Major-General Stanley (Jakob Martin Kraft ’17), but only after Kraft performs the famously reproduced “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major- General,” and delights the audience. Then, at the climax of the story, The Pirate King (Matthew A. Reinemann ’17) makes one last attempt to prolong Frederic’s apprenticeship.
Ruth loves Frederic and goes with The Pirate King to tell Frederic that he is still technically indentured. In Act II, the audience finds out that Frederic was actually born on leap year, February 29. This convoluted plot twist mas- terfully indentures Frederic to over another six decades of service to the Pirates of Penzance.
The Pirate King, being the master manipulator that he is, told Frederic that it was up to his own moral judgment to make the decision.
In the end, Frederic acts as a true slave to duty and is forced to part ways with Mabel. The show brought together issues surrounding love, sex and duty, and made a wonderfully hilarious comedy that pleased the audience. Further, the final number brings together the entire cast and allows for a satirical, happy, ending. The dedicated work put into the show by the director and the choir members made the opera that much more enjoyable to watch, and makes the anticipation for next year’s musical that much more real.