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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
A&E >  Entertainment

Opera CdA sets sail with ‘Pirates’

Used to be when Opera Coeur d’Alene set sail for its annual cruise on Lake Coeur d’Alene, patrons could enjoy lovely arias and duets along with hors d’oeuvres and the gorgeous scenery.

When organizers starting talking about this year’s show, someone suggested doing music from Gilbert and Sullivan’s classic operetta, “The Pirates of Penzance.” They went with it, the boat sold out almost immediately.

So they added a second boat. And rather than doing two shows for two different audiences, they’re lashing the Coeur d’Alene and the Mish-an-Nock together for a double-sized event.

A party barge for the opera crowd.

“We’ll have a British boat and a pirate boat, and there will be singers going back and forth,” said Opera CdA artistic director Aaron Nicholson, who will sing the part of the pirate king. “It really is going to be a blast. I’m excited for the event because it’s going to be such a good time, I think.”

Also in the cast are local favorite Dawn Wolski as Mabel, Jadd Davis as Frederic, Susan Windham as Ruth, Kent Kimball as the sergeant, and Curt Olds as the major-general. Olds is a Montana native who acted in Spokane before he headed to New York, where he most recently performed in “Guys and Dolls” with Nathan Lane at Carnegie Hall.

This marks the first time that Opera CdA has performed any work by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, Nicholson said. And “Penzance” is certainly among the most well-known of their 14 comic operas. The opera, which opened in New York in 1879, centers on a young man, Frederic, who is about to be released from his indentured servitude to a band of pirates. He falls in love with Mabel, the daughter of the major-general. Due to a trick of fate, he learns his servitude is to last decades longer, and he feels duty bound to uphold his end of the deal, even if it dashes his romantic hopes. Naturally, comic high jinks ensue.

“It’s a really funny show. Very witty,” Nicholson said. “It’s certainly the most well-known (Gilbert and Sullivan work), and I think it’s the most-well known for a reason. I think it’s also one of the best.”

Opera on the Lake will not feature a full stage production of the opera. As it’s an “in concert” performance, audience members will enjoy the music only. Instead of an orchestra, the singers will be accompanied by a pianist. There will be some costuming, Nicholson said.

“We really want the audience to enjoy themselves,” he said, “and for us to feel free and loose up there.”

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