UConn Opera Theater will present Gilbert & Sullivan’s comic opera H.M.S. Pinafore on Friday, Jan. 27 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 29 at 3 p.m. at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts.
H.M.S. Pinafore – or the Lass That Loved a Sailor – was Gilbert and Sullivan’s fourth collaboration and their first major success. The plot revolves around foiled love between members of different social classes, when a ship captain’s daughter falls for one of his dashing sailors, even though she is betrothed. The lovers experience rough waters but as in true Gilbert and Sullivan fashion, true love reigns. The show includes memorable songs such as “When I Was a Lad,” “I’m the Captain of the Pinafore,” and many more. All aboard as we sail through the trials and tribulations of young love, nautical nuttiness, and merry melodies.
The opera will be led by bass-baritone, Anthony Leathem, who plays the title role of Captain Corcoran. Leathem has been performing for audiences in and around the UConn community for nearly four years. Leathem’s depiction of Captain Corcoran is just the latest in his extensive performing career. He was recently named one of the graduate winners of the UConn Concerto Competition, and he will also perform the title role in Le nozze di Figaro this coming March. Next month, he will make his return to Hartford Opera Theater to sing the role of Stanley in Liam Wade’s The Stranger the Better.
The cast will also be led by tenor Spencer Reeese, playing the role of the handsome sailor Ralph Rackstraw. Reese was last seen on the UConn stage as Monostatos is Die Zauberflöte in Spring 2013. After graduating from UConn, he earned a master’s degree in opera stage direction at the Eastman School of Music. He now spends his summers in residence with Ohio Light Opera, where he is the choreographer as well as a performer for the seven-show repertory season.
The remainder of the talented cast draws from the undergraduate and graduate programs: Jon Dyson, Michael McAvoy, Tyler Panek, Sandra Marante, Caroline O’Dwyer, and Judy Bowers. The creative and production team includes Michelle Hendrick, Brett Hodgdon, and Constance Rock.
This year, UConn Opera has support from the Jeffery P. Ossen Family Foundation. As part of the grant, the Windham schools’ fourth- and fifth-graders will have the opportunity to see the opera at no cost to the students or schools. The students will also be presented with a pre-performance classroom visit by the singers of H.M.S. Pinafore. This outreach will not only introduce the story of the opera, but the H.M.S. Pinafore cast will also introduce the students to all aspects of opera and what it is like to be an opera singer.
H.M.S. Pinafore will run for two shows only at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $20 for regular admission, $15 for seniors, and $5 for students. Tickets can be purchased through the Jorgensen Box Office online, by phone at 860.486.4226 or in person at the Jorgensen Box Office, 2132 Hillside Rd.