By Bailey Cunningham
When most people hear the word “opera”, they tend to think of something incredibly boring and stuffy, something that only their grandparents would enjoy, not something that they might actually like themselves. But CCA Vocal Conservatory is changing this stereotype and breathing new life into this less-popular genre of music with their newest show, “A Gallery of Gilbert and Sullivan.” This show features the music of the songwriting duo W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, who wrote a total of fourteen comic operas between 1871 and 1896. Vocal Conservatory is covering three of their most popular works: The Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado, and The Gondoliers. Anne Whattoff, music coordinator, and Kellie Evans-O’Connor, director, chose what they believed to be the best songs from each show and put them together to create their own blend of opera that was more interesting and accessible to students. This show truly does have something for everyone: drama, romance, humor, and adventure, all told almost exclusively through song.
The selections from The Pirates of Penzance feature Frederick (played by Justin Verity), a young man who has just finished his indentured servitude to a band of pirates when he falls in love with a comely young girl named Mabel (Alexis Neumann), having never seen a woman with the exception of his nursemaid.
Set in Japan in the 1800’s, The Mikado features a group of young schoolgirls who are embarking on their adventurous new life outside of school, led by the Three Little Maids (Danielle Pompeo, Cassidy McCombs, and Daniela Camilleri).
The final act of the opera, the Gondoliers, tells a comedic and convoluted tale of love, mystery, and lost royalty. The Duke (Jack Conway) and Duchess (Jamie Hart) of Plaza Toro, Spain have just traveled to the island of Barataria to seek out the heir to the throne, to whom their daughter, Casilda (Gabriela Lipson) was wed in infancy. However, they are unsure who the heir is, as the king could be one of two gondoliers: either Giuseppe (Nico Hinderling) or Marco (Maia Kuspa). To complicate matters even further, Marco and Giuseppe have recently married Gianetta (Sarah Wilkerson) and Tessa (Megan Phillips), while Casilda is head over heels in love with the court drummer, Luiz (Justin Verity). In a truly operatic fashion, all is soon revealed. Headed by some very talented leads and full of a surprising amount of humor, A Gallery of Gilbert and Sullivan is a true crowd-pleaser that puts the idea of the typical boring opera to shame.