Back when rock music was a mere twinkle in Ulysses S. Grant's eye, the opera entertained eighth-note connoisseurs with an inspired combination of upscale theater, explosive pyrotechnics, and fog machines. Witness the mind-blowing majesty of the opera with today's Groupon: for $15, you get a general-admission ticket to see Pirates of Penzance at the Union Avenue Opera in Visitation Park. Call the box office to reserve tickets for one of the following dates:
- July 9 at 8 p.m.
- July 10 at 8 p.m.
- July 16 at 8 p.m.
- July 17 at 8 p.m.
- July 18 at 3 p.m.
An instant hit when it was first performed in 1879, Gilbert and Sullivan's effervescent two-act comic opera Pirates of Penzance sparked an extremely short-lived youth craze for sawing off one's functional limbs and replacing them with wooden pegs. Against a backdrop of incompetent buccaneers, bumbling policemen, and a glittering score highlighted by the classic patter tune “Major-General's Song" and the elaborate coloratura of "Poor Wand'ring One", Pirates of Penzance tells the tale of Frederic, a duty-bound young piratical apprentice whose timbers are shivered by Mabel, the beautiful daughter of a major-general. The couple is battened about by all manner of humorous hijinks as they plot to marry upon Frederic's 21st birthday, though his leap-year birth may keep him separated from his true love a little longer than planned. With family-friendly subject matter and catchy tunes, Pirates of Penzance is a welcoming opera for first-timers, children, and women whose dream man knows how to accessorize filthy clothes with parrots and is mutilated by a hard life of maritime thievery.
Founded in 1994, the Union Avenue Opera puts top-notch libretto vocalizers on display in an intimate, non-pretentious setting, having earned a reputation for presenting colorful, pitch-perfect performances sung in the original language (in this case, some inscrutable tongue called "the Queen's English"). Operatic beholders can leave the tiara, monocle, and traditional opera vuvuzela at home, as the Union Avenue Christian Church allows attendees to remain casual while relaxing in padded seats and swimming in the church's lovely acoustics. The opera has also maintained an essential role in dishing out heaping spoonfuls of the arts to the St. Louis community, becoming an asset to regular citizens and to the large phantom population that cryptically plays "Wooly Bully" on the opera's underground organs. Turn a band of mateys into Jolly Rogers with today's Groupon to Pirates of Penzance at the Union Avenue Opera.
Must call in advance to reserve tickets. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.
Pirates of Penzance was featured on Broadway World, but there are no reviews of the upcoming show just yet. However, past performances at Union Avenue Opera have received great reviews and their production of Lakmé was a St. Louis Today critics' pick:
- The cast is perfection itself. Quite truly there is not a weak point in it. I've rarely heard such uniform vocal excellence. – Steve Callahan, on Die Lustige Witwe (The Merry Widow), KDHX
- This work is filled with colorful and exotic characters, and those qualities are reflected in the music as well. – Chris Gibson, Broadway World