Opera to embark on ‘Pirate’ voyage

Posted by Chip Chandler - Digital Content Producer on
Stars in Amarillo Opera’s “The Pirates of Penzance”

by Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer

Amarillo Opera will stage one of the most beloved comic operas in the repertoire Saturday and Sunday when it sets sail with Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance.”

The production will be staged at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday in the Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts, 500 S. Buchanan St.

“I think it’s so popular because … it’s like a comedic action-adventure movie set to beautiful music, and you can’t go wrong with that,” said Walker Lewis, the production’s director.

The opera, which premiered in 1879, tells the story of young Frederic (Ben Robinson), who believes he has completed his apprenticeship to a band of soft-hearted pirates. He meets and falls head-over-heels in love with Mabel (Sarah Beckham-Turner), the daughter of Major-General Stanley (Bob Hansen), only to discover that his time with the pirates – who are now his sworn enemy, thanks to a misguided sense of loyalty – may not be completed.

“When they wrote it, Gilbert and Sullivan were at the height of their powers,” Lewis said.

“Pirates” is steeped in vaudevillian tradition – “the timing and the word play and the absurd plot twists,” Lewis said. “It’s really a link to the popular British comedies of today, like Monty Python.”

The opera is “fun, clever and witty,” said David O’Dell, the opera company’s general director. “It’s very tuneful and rollicking – just good fun.”

The production will feature a pair of leads with close Amarillo ties – Bechkam-Turner, daughter of James and Pamela Beckham, grew up in town, and Hansen is department head of the West Texas A&M University School of Music.

For Beckham-Turner, doing “Pirates” is the fulfillment of a long dream.

“Gilbert & Sullivan is one of my favorite things to do and I’ve been dying to do ‘Pirates,’ so to do it here is pretty awesome,” Beckham-Turner said.

Hansen is a practiced hand at the opera: This will be his third time to perform as the very model of a modern major-general.

“This is my niche,” Hansen said. “I love these roles. … They fit me so well. The lyrics and dialogue in Gilbert & Sullivan are so full of subtleties and so fun to explore.

“They may seem zany and make no sense, but that’s the intent,” Hansen said. “It’s satire.”

Tickets are $20 to $95, plus fees.

For information, call 806-372-7464, 806-378-3096 or visit www.panhandletickets.com.