The Pirates of Penzance

The Pirates of Penzance

"The Pirates of Penzance, or The Slave of Duty," is a comic opera in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert. It is one of the Savoy Operas. The opera's official premiere was at the Fifth Avenue Theatre in New York City on December 31 1879, where the show was a hit with audiences and critics. [ [ Information from the website] ] The London premiere was on April 3 1880, at the Opera Comique, where it ran for 363 performances, having already been playing successfully for over three months in New York.

"Pirates" remains popular today, taking its place along with "The Mikado" and "H.M.S. Pinafore" as one of the most frequently played Gilbert and Sullivan operas. Its 1981 Broadway revival by Joseph Papp ran for 787 performances and spawned many imitations.


"The Pirates of Penzance" was the only Gilbert and Sullivan opera to have its official premiere in New York. At the time, American law offered no copyright protection to foreigners. After their previous opera, "H.M.S. Pinafore", was a hit in London, over a hundred American companies quickly mounted unauthorized "pirated" productions, often taking considerable liberties with the text and paying no royalties to the creators.Prestige, Colin. "D'Oyly Carte and the Pirates", a paper presented at the International Conference of G&S held at the University of Kansas, May 1970] By mounting their next opera in New York, Gilbert and Sullivan hoped to forestall further "piracy" by establishing the official production in America before others could copy it. [ [ Article about international copyright pirating, focusing on Gilbert, Sullivan and Carte's efforts] ] They did succeed, by mounting the first production themselves, as well as operating U.S. touring companies and delaying publication of the score and libretto, in keeping for themselves the direct profits of the venture. However, Gilbert, Sullivan, and their producer, Richard D'Oyly Carte, continued their efforts for many years to control the American performance copyrights over their operas, without success. [ [ Article on the pirating of G&S operas (and other works) and the development of performance copyrights] ]

After the success of "Pinafore", Gilbert was eager to get started on the next opera, and he began working on the libretto in December 1878. [Ainger, p. 166] The composition of the music for "Pirates" was unusual, in that Sullivan composed the acts in reverse — intending to bring the completed Act II with him to New York, with Act I existing only in sketches. When he arrived in New York, however, he found that he had left the sketches behind, and he had to reconstruct the first act from memory. [Ainger, p. 177] Gilbert told a correspondent many years later that Sullivan was unable to recall his setting of the entrance of the women's chorus, so they substituted the chorus "Climbing over rocky mountain" from their earlier opera, "Thespis". [Ainger, p. 179] Sullivan's manuscript for "Pirates" contains pages removed from a "Thespis" score, with the vocal parts altered from their original context as a four-part chorus.

thumb|250px|left|Poster_for_the_copyright performance at Paignton] Some scholars (e.g., Tillett and Spencer, 2000) have offered evidence that Gilbert and Sullivan had planned all along to re-use "Climbing over rocky mountain," and perhaps other parts of "Thespis", noting that the presence of a "Thespis" score in New York when there were no plans to revive it might not have been accidental. In any event, "Climbing over rocky mountain," one other song, and a ballet are the only portions of the score of "Thespis" known to have survived.

On 10 December 1879, Sullivan wrote a letter to his mother about the new opera, upon which he was hard at work in New York. "I think it will be a great success, for it is exquisitely funny, and the music is strikingly tuneful and catching." True enough, "The Pirates of Penzance" was an immediate hit in New York, and later London, and takes its place today as one of the most popular G&S works. To secure British copyright, there was a perfunctory performance the afternoon before the New York premiere, at the Royal Bijou Theatre Paignton, Devon, organised by Helen Lenoir (who would later marry Richard D'Oyly Carte). The cast, having performed "Pinafore" the night before, read from scripts carried onto the stage, making do with whatever costumes they had on hand. [Ainger, pp. 180–81]

The work's title is a multi-layered joke. On the one hand, Penzance was a docile seaside resort at the time, and not the place where one would expect to encounter pirates. [In medieval times and later, however, Penzance was subject to frequent raiding by Turkish pirates, according to Canon Diggens Archive 1910.] On the other hand, the title was also a jab at the "theatrical" pirates who had staged unlicensed productions of "H.M.S. Pinafore" in America.

Sullivan's score borrowed from several musical traditions. In the Major-General's Act II song, "Sighing softly to the river", the composer imitates Schubert's partsongs for male voices. Also, the "Come, Friends Who Plough the Sea" section of "With Catlike Tread" resembles the anvil chorus from "Il Trovatore". In another scene in Act II, Mabel addresses the police, who chant their response, in an imitation of the form of an Anglican church service's canticle and response. One of the most famous passages from the finale to Act I, referred to as "Hail Poetry", is a five-part musical piece, utilising all of the voices in a chorale style.

The character of "Major-General Stanley" was also based partly on Field Marshal Garnet Wolsely.Fact|date=September 2008


*Major-General Stanley (comic baritone)
*The Pirate King (bass-baritone)
*Samuel, "his Lieutenant" (baritone)
*Frederic, "the Pirate Apprentice" (tenor)
*Sergeant of Police (bass)
*Mabel (soprano), Edith (mezzo-soprano), Kate (mezzo-soprano), Isabel (speaking), "General Stanley's Daughters"
*Ruth, "a Piratical Maid of all work" (contralto)

*Chorus of Pirates, Police and General Stanley's Daughters


Act I

On the coast of Cornwall, at the time of Queen Victoria's reign, Frederic, a young man with a strong sense of duty, celebrates, amidst the pirates, the completion of his twenty-first year and the apparent end of his apprenticeship ("Pour, oh pour the pirate sherry"). The pirates' maid of all work, Ruth, appears and reveals that, as Frederic's nursemaid long ago ("When Frederic was a little lad"), she had made a mistake "through being hard of hearing": she had misheard Frederic's father's instructions and apprenticed him to a pirate, instead of to a ship's "pilot".

Frederic has never seen any women other than Ruth, and he believes her to be beautiful – the pirates know better and suggest that Frederic take Ruth with him when he returns to civilisation. Frederic announces that, although it pains him to do so, such is his sense of duty that, once free from his apprenticeship, he will be forced to devote himself to their extermination. He points out that they are not very successful pirates, since, being orphans themselves, they allow their prey to go free if they too are orphans. Frederic notes that word of this has got about, so captured ships' companies routinely claim to be orphans. Frederic invites the pirates to give up piracy and go with him, so that he need not destroy them, but the Pirate King notes that, compared with respectability, piracy is comparatively honest ("Oh! better far to live and die"). The pirates depart, leaving Frederic and Ruth. Frederic sees a group of beautiful young girls approaching the pirate lair, and realizes that Ruth lied to him about her appearance ("Oh false one! You have deceived me!"). Sending Ruth away, Frederic hides before the girls arrive.

The girls burst exuberantly upon the secluded spot ("Climbing over rocky mountain"). Frederic reveals himself ("Stop, ladies, pray!") and appeals to them to help him reform ("Oh! is there not one maiden breast?"). One of them, Mabel, responds to his plea, and chides her sisters for their lack of charity ("Oh sisters deaf to pity's name for shame!"). She sings to him ("Poor wand'ring one"), and Frederic and Mabel quickly fall in love. The other girls contemplate whether to eavesdrop or to leave the new couple alone ("What ought we to do?"), and eventually decide to "talk about the weather," although they steal a glance or two at the affectionate couple ("How beautifully blue the sky").

Frederic warns the girls of the pirates nearby ("Stay, we must not lose our senses"), but before they can flee, the pirates arrive and capture all the girls, intending to marry them ("Here's a first rate opportunity"). Mabel warns the pirates that the girls' father is a Major-General ("Hold, monsters!"), who soon arrives and introduces himself ("I am the very model of a modern Major-General"). He appeals to the pirates not to take his daughters, leaving him to face his old age alone. Having heard of the famous Pirates of Penzance, he pleads for their release on the ground that he's an orphan ("Oh, men of dark and dismal fate"). The soft-hearted pirates are sympathetic and release the girls ("Hail, Poetry!"), making Major-General Stanley and his daughters honorary members of their band.

Act II

The Major-General sits in a ruined chapel on his estate, surrounded by his daughters. His conscience is tortured by the lie that he told the pirates, and the girls attempt to console him ("Oh dry the glist'ning tear"). The Sergeant of Police and his corps arrive to announce their readiness to go forth to arrest the pirates ("When the foeman bares his steel"). The girls loudly express their admiration of the police for facing likely slaughter at the hands of fierce and merciless foes. The police are unnerved by this, and remain around (to the Major-General's frustration) but finally leave.

only five birthdays have passed ("When you had left our pirate fold"), and he will not reach his twenty-first birthday until he is in his eighties. Frederic is convinced by this logic that he must rejoin the pirates, and thus he sees it as his duty to inform the Pirate King of the Major-General's deception. The outraged outlaw declares that their "revenge will be swift and terrible" ("Away, away, my heart's on fire").

Frederic meets Mabel ("All is prepared"), and she pleads with him to stay ("Stay Frederic, stay"), but he explains that he must fulfill his duty to the pirates until his 21st birthday in 1940. He promises to return then and claim her. They agree to be faithful to each other until then, though to Mabel "It seems so long" ("Oh here is love and here is truth"), and Frederic departs. Mabel steels herself ("No, I'll be brave") and tells the police that they must go alone to face the pirates. They muse that an outlaw might be just like any other man, and it is a shame to deprive him of "that liberty which is so dear to all" ("When a felon's not engaged in his employment"). The police hide on hearing the approach of the pirates ("A rollicking band of pirates we"), who have stolen onto the grounds, meaning to avenge themselves for the Major-General's lie ("With cat-like tread").

The police and the pirates prepare for the fight ("Hush, hush! not a word"). Just then, the Major-General appears, sleepless with guilt, and the pirates also hide, while General Stanley listens to the soothing sighing of the breeze ("Sighing softly to the river"). The girls come looking for him ("Now what is this and what is that"). The pirates leap to the attack, and the police rush to the defence; but the police are easily defeated, and the Pirate King urges the captured Major General to prepare for death. The Sergeant plays his trump card, demanding that the pirates yield "in Queen Victoria's name"; the pirates, overcome with loyalty to their Queen, do so. Ruth appears and reveals that the orphan pirates are in fact "all noblemen who have gone wrong". The major-general is impressed by this and all is forgiven. Frederic and Mabel are reunited, and the Major-General is happy to marry his daughters to the noble pirates after all.

Musical numbers

*Overture (includes "With cat-like tread", "Ah, leave me not to pine", "Pray observe the magnanimity", "When you had left our pirate fold", "Climbing over rocky mountain", and "How beautifully blue the sky")

Act I
*1. "Pour, oh pour, the pirate sherry" (Samuel and Chorus of Pirates)
*2. "When Fred'ric was a little lad" (Ruth)
*3. "Oh, better far to live and die ...I am a pirate king!" (Pirate King and Chorus of Pirates)
*4. "Oh! false one, you have deceiv'd me" (Frederic and Ruth)
*5. "Climbing over rocky mountain" (Chorus of Girls)
*6. "Stop, ladies, pray" (Edith, Kate, Frederic, and Chorus of Girls)
*7. "Oh, is there not one maiden breast?" (Frederic and Chorus of Girls)
*8. "Poor wand'ring one" (Mabel and Chorus of Girls)
*9. "What ought we to do?" (Edith, Kate, and Chorus of Girls)
*10. "How beautifully blue the sky" (Mabel, Frederic, and Chorus of Girls)
*11. "Stay, we must not lose our senses" ... "Here's a first-rate opportunity to get married with impunity" (Frederic and Chorus of Girls and Pirates)
*12. "Hold, monsters" (Mabel, Major-General, Samuel, and Chorus)
*13. "I am the very model of a modern Major-General" (Major-General and Chorus)
*14. Finale Act I (Mabel, Kate, Edith, Ruth, Frederic, Samuel, King, Major-General, and Chorus)
** "Oh, men of dark and dismal fate"
** "I’m telling a terrible story"
** "Hail, Poetry"
** "Oh, happy day, with joyous glee"
** "Pray observe the magnanimity" Act II

*15. "Oh, dry the glist'ning tear" (Mabel and Chorus of Girls)
*16. "Then, Frederic, let your escort lion-hearted" (Frederic and Major-General)
*17. "When the foeman bares his steel" (Mabel, Edith, Sergeant, and Chorus of Policemen and Girls)
*18. "Now for the pirates' lair!" (Frederic, Ruth, and King)
*19. "When you had left our pirate fold" ("A paradox") (Ruth, Frederic, and King)
*20. "Away, away! My heart's on fire!" (Ruth, Frederic, and King)
*21. "All is prepar'd; your gallant crew await you" (Mabel and Frederic)
*22. "Stay, Fred'ric, stay" ... "Oh, here is love, and here is truth" (Mabel and Frederic)
*23. "No, I'll be brave" ... "Though in body and in mind" (Reprise of "When the foeman bares his steel") (Mabel, Sergeant, and Chorus of Police)
*23a. "Sergeant, approach!" (Mabel, Sergeant of Police, and Chorus of Police)
*24. "When a felon's not engaged in his employment" (Sergeant and Chorus of Police)
*25. "A rollicking band of pirates we" (Sergeant and Chorus of Pirates and Police)
*26. "With cat-like tread, upon our prey we steal" (Samuel and Chorus of Pirates and Police)
*27. "Hush, hush, not a word!" (Frederic, King, Major-General, and Chorus of Police and Pirates)
*28. Finale, Act II (Ensemble)
** "Sighing softly to the river"
** "Now what is this, and what is that?"
** "Frederic here! Oh, joy! Oh, rapture!"
** "With base deceit you worked upon our feelings!"
** "You/We triumph now"
** "Away with them, and place them at the bar!"
** "Poor wandering ones!"


In the original New York production, the revelation by Ruth that the pirates are "all noblemen who have gone wrong" prompted the following exchange (recalling a famous passage in "H.M.S. Pinafore"):

Gilbert deleted this exchange in the 1900 revival, and the Chappell vocal score was revised accordingly. The revived D'Oyly Carte Opera Company restored the original version in their 1989 production.

Production history

toured it almost continuously from 1880–1884, and again in 1888. It re-entered the touring repertory in 1893, and was never again absent through to the company's closure in 1982.

In America, after the New York opening on New Year's Eve, 1879, Richard D'Oyly Carte launched four companies that covered the United States on tours that lasted through the following summer. Gilbert and Sullivan themselves trained each of the touring companies through January and early February 1880, and each company's first performance – whether it was in Philadelphia, Newark, or Buffalo – was conducted by the composer. In Australia, its first authorized performance was on 19 March 1881 at the Theatre Royal, Sydney, produced by J. C. Williamson.

There was still no international copyright law, and the first "unauthorized" New York production was given by the Boston Ideal Opera Company at Booth's Theatre in September 1880. The first non-D'Oyly Carte professional production in a country that had been subject to Gilbert's copyright (other than Williamsons' authorised productions) was in Stratford, Ontario, Canada, in September 1961. In 1979, the Torbay branch of the Gilbert and Sullivan Society presented a centenary tribute to the world premiere performance of "Pirates" in Paignton, with a production at the Palace Avenue Theatre (situated a few metres from the former Bijou Theatre).

As discussed below, Joseph Papp's 1980–83 "Pirates" gave a boost to the opera's popularity. Professional and amateur productions of the opera continue with frequency. In 2007, the New York City Opera mounted a new production [ [ Information from NY City Opera website] ] as did Opera Australia. [ [ Review of Opera Australia production] ]

The following table shows the history of the D'Oyly Carte productions in Gilbert's lifetime:

Joseph Papp's "Pirates"

In 1980, Joseph Papp and the Public Theater of New York City brought a new production of "Pirates", directed by Wilford Leach and choreographed by Graciela Daniele, to the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park, one of the series of Shakespeare in the Park summer events. The show played for 10 previews and 35 performances. It then transferred to Broadway, opening on January 8 1981 for a run of 20 previews and 787 performances at the Uris and Minskoff Theatres. This take on "Pirates" earned several Tony Awards, including a Tony Award for Best Revival.

Compared to traditional productions of the opera, Papp's "Pirates" featured a more swashbuckling Pirate King and Frederic, and a broader, more musical comedy style of humour. It also featured an adapted orchestration and a number of key changes. The "Matter Patter" trio from "Ruddigore" and "Sorry her lot" from "H.M.S. Pinafore" were interpolated into the show. The production also restored Gilbert and Sullivan's original New York ending, with a reprise of the Major-General's song in the Act II finale.

Linda Ronstadt starred as Mabel, Rex Smith as Frederic, Kevin Kline as the Pirate King, Patricia Routledge as Ruth (replaced by Estelle Parsons for the Broadway transfer), George Rose as the Major-General, and Tony Azito as the Sergeant of Police. Notable replacements during the Broadway run included Pam Dawber, Karla DeVito and Maureen McGovern as Mabel; Robby Benson, Patrick Cassidy and Peter Noone as Frederic; James Belushi, Gary Sandy and Treat Williams as the Pirate King; David Garrison as the Sergeant; George S. Irving as the Major-General; and Kaye Ballard as Ruth. The national tour of the production featured Barry Bostwick as the Pirate King, Jo Anne Worley as Ruth, Clive Revill as the Major-General and Andy Gibb as Frederic.

The production opened at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, on May 26 1982 for a run of 601 performances. Notable among the cast were George Cole and Ronald Fraser as the Major-General; Michael Praed and Peter Noone as Frederic; Tim Curry, Timothy Bentinck, Oliver Tobias and Paul Nicholas as the Pirate King; Chris Langham as the Sergeant of Police; Pamela Stephenson as Mabel; Annie Ross as Ruth; Bonnie Langford as Kate; and Louise Gold as Isabel.

The Australian production opened in Melbourne in January 1984 at the Victorian Arts Centre and was the first work staged in the new performing arts complex. It was directed by John Feraro and starred Jon English as the Pirate King, Simon Gallaher as Frederic, [ [ Information about Simon Gallaher] ] June Bronhill as Ruth, David Atkins as the Sergeant of Police, and Marina Prior as Mabel. The six week limited season was followed by an Australian national tour throughout 1984, and return seasons in 1985 and 1986.Fact|date=January 2008 In 1985, "Pirates" was the first production in the new Queensland Performing Arts Centre in Brisbane and set attendance records that were not surpassed until many years later by "The Phantom of The Opera".Fact|date=January 2008

The Papp production was turned into a film in 1983, with all of the original Broadway cast reprising their roles, except that Angela Lansbury replaced Estelle Parsons as Ruth. The minor roles used British actors mimeing to their Broadway counterparts. The film was not a success, but, according to the IMDB, this "had nothing to do with the reviews, which were often quite positive. The real problem lay with Universal Pictures' decision to release the film simultaneously to SelecTV (a Los Angeles subscription television service) and to theaters. Theater owners were so angry that they boycotted the film; in the end, only 92 theaters agreed to show it, and it enjoyed a long run at only one of them." [ [ Information from the IMDB database] ] The film has been shown occasionally on television. Another film based loosely on the opera, "The Pirate Movie", was released during the Broadway run.



This opera has been recorded many times. Of the recordings by the D'Oyly Carte Opera company, the 1968 recording (with complete dialogue) is generally regarded as the best, while the 1957 recording has also been well received. The 1993 Mackerras recording is admired for its musical values, and the 1981 Papp recording is excellent, although it has adapted orchestrations. Of the available commercial videos, the Brent Walker is considered better than the Papp version. [ [ List and assessments of recordings of the opera] ]

;Selected recordings
*1929 D'Oyly Carte – Conductor: Malcolm Sargent [ [ Review of 1929 recording] ]
*1957 D'Oyly Carte – New Symphony Orchestra of London; Conductor: Isidore Godfrey [ [ Review of 1957 recording] ]
*1961 Sargent/Glyndebourne – Pro Arte Orchestra, Glyndebourne Festival Chorus; Conductor: Sir Malcolm Sargent [ [ Review of 1961 recording] ]
*1968 D'Oyly Carte (with dialogue) – Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Conductor: Isidore Godfrey [ [ Review of 1968 recording] ]
*1981; 1983 Papp's Pirates (with dialogue) – Director: Wilford Leach; Musical Director: William Elliott; Choreographer: Graciela Daniele [ [ Review of the 1981 Papp recording and 1983 Papp movie] ]
*1982 Brent Walker Productions (with dialogue) – Ambrosian Opera Chorus, London Symphony Orchestra; Conductor: Alexander Faris; Stage Director: Michael Geliot [ [ Review of 1982 video] ]
*1990 New D'Oyly Carte – Conductor: John Pryce-Jones [ [ Review of 1990 recording] ]
*1993 Mackerras/Telarc – Orchestra and Chorus of the Welsh National Opera; Conductor: Sir Charles Mackerras [ [ Review of 1993 recording] ]
*1994 Essgee Entertainment (video adaptation) – Director and Choreographer: Craig Schaefer; Orchestrator and Conductor: Kevin Hocking; Additional Lyrics: Melvyn Morrow [ [ Review of 1994 video] ]

Cultural impact

"Pirates" is one of the most frequently referenced works of Gilbert and Sullivan. The Major-General's Song, in particular, is frequently parodied, pastiched and used in advertising. Its challenging patter has proved interesting to comics, a notable example being Tom Lehrer's song "The Elements", and it is used in film and on television, unchanged in many instances, as a character's audition piece, or seen in a "school play" scene. Examples include:
*In "Animaniacs", Yakko Warner, in the episode "H.M.S. Yakko," sings the famous pastiche, "I am the very model of a cartoon individual";
*The computer-animated series "ReBoot" ended its third season with a recap of the entire season, set to the song's tune;
*In the "Doctor Who" Big Finish Productions audio, "Doctor Who and the Pirates", the Doctor sings, "I am the very model of a Gallifreyan buccaneer" (and other songs, from "Pirates", "Pinafore" and "Ruddigore", are parodied);
*"The Muppet Show" (season 3, episode 61) [ [;ep_title;12 " link" Information on Muppet Show from] ] staged a duet of the song with guest host and commedienne Gilda Radner and a six-foot tall talking carrot (The scene bore an ironic parody to another scene in "Pirates", as Radner had requested a six-foot tall talking "parrot", but was misheard);
*David Hyde Pierce's monologue, as host of "Saturday Night Live", was a parody of the song;
*In the "Frasier" episode "Fathers and Sons", Frasier, Niles and Leland Barton sing the first verse of the song. Martin tries to join in but confuses the lyrics, singing about a "scary hippopotamus" (instead of "the square of a hypotenuse");
*In the "Mad About You" episode "Moody Blues," Paul directs a charity production of "Penzance" starring his father, Burt, as the Major-General. Parts of rehearsal and performance of the song are shown. When the lyrics slip Burt's mind, he improvises a few lines about his son.
*In "The Wild Thornberrys" episode "Sir Nigel," Nigel Thornberry sings a song about the family to the tune of the song;
*In a "VeggieTales" episode entitled "The Wonderful World of Auto-Tainment", Archibald Asparagus sings the first two verses of this song when asked to sing about "Military Intelligence";
*In the "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" episode "The Cold Open" (2006), the cast performs a sketch including a parody of the song: "We'll be the very model of a modern network TV show"; and
*In an episode of "Pinky and The Brain", The Brain sings a typically megalomaniacal parody of the song.
*In "The Simpsons" episode "Deep Space Homer" (1F13), Barney Gumble quotes the first lines while executing difficult gymnastic tumbles for astronaut training.
*In an "Assy McGee" episode entitled "Pegfinger", Detective Sanchez's wife is a member of a community theater that performs the opera.
*In an episode of "Home Improvement", Al Borland sings half of the first verse when tricked into thinking he is in a soundproof booth.Other songs from the show that have been used frequently include the chorus of "With cat-like tread", which begins "Come, friends, who plough the sea," which was used in the popular American song, "Hail, Hail, the Gang's All Here," popularized by Fred Astaire. It is also part of the soundtrack, along with other Gilbert and Sullivan songs, in the 1981 film, "Chariots of Fire". The song was also pastiched in an episode of "Animaniacs" in a song about surfing a whale.

Other notable instances of references to "Pirates" include a "New York Times" article on 29 February 1940, memorializing that Frederic was finally out of his indentures. Six years previously, the arms granted to the municipal borough of Penzance in 1934 contain a pirate dressed in Gilbert's original costuming, and Penzance had a rugby team called the Penzance Pirates, which is now called the Cornish Pirates. In 1980, Isaac Asimov wrote a short story called "The Year of the Action", concerning whether the action of "Pirates" took place on March 1, 1873, or March 1, 1877. That is, did Gilbert take into account the fact that 1900 was not a leap year? [ [ Description of the story, which appears in "Banquets of the Black Widowers" (1984)] ]

Film references to "Pirates" include "Kate and Leopold", where there are multiple references, including a scene where Leopold sings "I Am The Very Model of A Modern Major General" while accompanying himself on the piano; and in "Pretty Woman", Edward Lewis (Richard Gere) covered a social gaffe by prostitute Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts), who said that the opera "La Traviata" was so good that she almost "peed in [her] pants" by saying that she had said that she liked it almost as much as "The Pirates of Penzance." In Walt Disney's cartoon "" (2004), there is a performance of "The Pirates of Penzance" that becomes the setting for the climactic battle between the Musketeers and Captain Pete.

In the TV series, "The West Wing", "The Pirates of Penzance" and other Gilbert & Sullivan operas are mentioned, in particular by Deputy Communications Director, Sam Seaborn, who was once recording secretary of the Gilbert and Sullivan society in school. In the pilot episode of the 2008 CBS series, "Flashpoint", a police officer and his partner sing the policeman's song. In "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip", a poster from "The Pirates of Penzance" hangs on Matt Albie's (Matthew Perry) office wall.

The show is referred to in video games. In "", a casino is called "Pirates in Men's Pants", a crude play on "Pirates of Penzance". The opera has also lent itself to other cultural references, such as the unlikely slang used by Melburnian youths, who refer to marijuana as "Pirates of Penzance" or the "Gilbert & Sullivan Special."


*"Di Yam Gazlonim", A Yiddish adaptation of "Pirates" by Al Grand that continues to be performed frequently in the United States. The 2006 production at the National Yiddish Theater - Folksbiene was nominated for a 2007 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revival.
*"Parson's Pirates" by Opera della Luna
*"The Pirate Movie"
*"Pirates! Or, Gilbert And Sullivan Plunder'd" (2006), a musical comedy, adapted by Nell Benjamin, first presented Nov 1, 2006 at Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Connecticut, then June 9-July 8, 2007 at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey.
*"Pirates of Penzance - The Ballet!"
*Essgee Entertainment produced an adapted version of "Pirates" in 1994 in Australia and New Zealand. [ [ Information about Essgee Entertainment's "Pirates"] ] Their producer, Simon Gallaher (Frederic in the Australian Papp production), produced another adaptation of "Pirates" that toured Australia from 2001 to 2003.Fact|date=January 2008

ee also

*Major General's Song
*Our Island Home, one of the sources of the libretto for "Pirates"



*cite book|last=Allen|first=Reginald|year=1979|title=Gilbert and Sullivan in America, The Story of the First D'Oyly Carte Opera Company American Tour|location=New York|publisher=The Pierpont Morgan Library
*cite book|last=Bond|first=Jessie|year=1930|title=The Life and Reminiscences of Jessie Bond, the Old Savoyard (as told to Ethel MacGeorge)|location=London|publisher=John Lane, The Bodley Head
*Bordman, Gerald. "American Operetta: From H. M. S. Pinafore to Sweeney Todd" Oxford University Press, 1981.
*cite book|last=Bradley|first=Ian|authorlink=Ian Bradley|year=1996|title=The Complete Annotated Gilbert and Sullivan|location=Oxford, England|publisher=Oxford University Press|isbn = 019816503X
*cite book|last=Bradley|first=Ian|authorlink=Ian Bradley|year=2005|title=Oh Joy! Oh Rapture!: The Enduring Phenomenon of Gilbert and Sullivan|location=Oxford, England|publisher=Oxford University Press|isbn = 0195167007
*cite book|last=Gänzl|first=Kurt|year=1986|title=The British Musical Theatre—Volume I, 1865–1914|location=Oxford|publisher=Oxford University Press
*Lamb, Andrew. "From Pinafore to Porter: United States-United Kingdom Interactions in Musical Theater, 1879-1929" in "American Music", Vol. 4, No. 1, British-American Musical Interactions (Spring, 1986), pp. 34-49 University of Illinois Press.
* Also, five supplements, privately printed.

External links

* [ "The Pirates of Penzance" at The Gilbert & Sullivan Archive]
* [ "The Pirates of Penzance" at The Gilbert & Sullivan Discography]
* [ Discussion of the background of the Paignton and New York openings]
* [;nm=on;mx=20;q=The%20Pirates%20of%20Penzance "The Pirates of Penzance"] at IMDB
* [ Papp's "Pirates"] at The Internet Broadway Database
* [ Essgee's "Pirates" in Australia] at The Internet Broadway Database
* [ Review of the opening night by Clement Scott]
* [ Site containing biographies of the people listed in the historical casting chart]
* [ Kevin Wachs' research as to the original incarnation of the opera] (PDF file)
* [ Page includes MP3 files of music from "Pirates"]
* [ Page linking to numerous Pirates song parodies]

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  • The Pirates of Penzance — The Pirates of Penzance; or, The Slave of Duty (Les pirates de Penzance, ou l esclave du devoir) est un opéra comique britannique en deux actes composé par Arthur Sullivan sur un libretto de W. S. Gilbert. La première officielle eut lieu à New… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • (the) Pirates of Penzance — The Pirates of Penzance [The Pirates of Penzance] a comic opera (1880) by W S Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, one of their ↑Savoy Operas. It is about a group of ↑pirates who are all in fact of noble birth …   Useful english dictionary

  • The Pirates of Penzance — Los piratas de Penzance The Pirates of Penzance Forma Ópera Savoy Actos y escenas 2 actos Idioma original del libreto Inglés Libretista W. S. Gilbert Estreno …   Wikipedia Español

  • The Pirates of Penzance (1983 film) — For the comic opera on which the film is based, see The Pirates of Penzance The Pirates of Penzance is a 1983 musical film, based on Gilbert and Sullivan s comic opera of the same name. It stars Kevin Kline, Rex Smith, Angela Lansbury, George… …   Wikipedia

  • Pirates of Penzance - The Ballet! — Pirates of Penzance ndash; The Ballet! (originally called Pirates! The Ballet ) is a comic ballet adapted from Gilbert and Sullivan s Savoy Opera The Pirates of Penzance . The plot remains the same as for the opera.The work was created for the… …   Wikipedia

  • Doctor Who and the Pirates — Big Finish Productions audio play Doctor Who and the Pirates Series Doctor Who …   Wikipedia

  • Pirates of Penzance — Pirates of Pen|zance, The (1879) a comic opera by ↑Gilbert and Sullivan about a group of pirates who never succeed in robbing anyone. It contains the well known songs The Very Model of a Modern Major General and A Policeman s Lot is Not a Happy… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • The Pirate Movie — is a 1982 musical and comedy film directed by Ken Annakin and starring Christopher Atkins and Kristy McNichol. The film is loosely based on Gilbert and Sullivan s comic opera The Pirates of Penzance . The original music score is composed by Mike… …   Wikipedia

  • Penzance — Penzance …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • The Muny Repertory — The Muny, or the Municipal Opera Association of St. Louis, Missouri, in the United States, is a not for profit municipally owned outdoor theatre, the largest in the United States. It operates solely in the summer, and its first official season… …   Wikipedia

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