As soon as I took my seat at the piratical operatic tent, I wished I'd brought my sketchbook so that I could draw some pictures of the whole experience. A bit later, I decided I was glad just to enjoy the show. However, some of the things I would have liked to draw were: the view of the C-Train rolling across the Bow River overpass just behind the performers; the shadows of seagulls skimming above, seen through the roof of the tent; the fact that the music playing through the speakers in the adjacent fancy port-a-potties was the Papageno/Papagena duet from Die Zauberfloete (you've just gotta love that!); and the faces of the audience, some of whom were clearly longtime fans (like myself) and others who were cracking up at W. S. Gilbert's lyrics for the first time.
Some folks may not realize how deeply those lyrics have permeated western culture. For example, I love the fact that famous sci-fi author Isaac Asimov was crazy about Gilbert & Sullivan, and actually couldn't resist slipping a few lyrics into his works of fiction. It's somewhere in the Foundation series (all my books are in boxes right now, or I'd go dig it up for ya), in which he writes that someone has "journeyed for a month, or nearly..." - clearly a nod to Nanki-Poo's line in The Mikado: "So, have I journeyed for a month, or nearly/To find that Yum-Yum, whom I love so dearly..." (Well, I've never confirmed that, but there's no doubt in my mind. Anyway, how could you confirm that?) Another (more well-known) instance of this music finding a place in popular culture, is "The Elements," a really incredible spinoff of the Major-General's fast-paced tongue-twister of a song (from "Pirates") which was written and performed by satirist Tom Lehrer. And of course anyone who's read Margaret Mahy can tell that she grew up steeped in Gilbert & Sullivan - and here's my homage to that (she actually sang "The Elements" the one time I met her in person.) Ok, but I digress, as usual.
I drew some pictures of The Pirates in the Drawing Book - on my 23rd birthday, apparently (a long time ago). Seeing the performance today made me want to dig them up:
It was fun to see Michelle Minke of Cowtown Opera wonderfully well cast in the role of Edith (the rather exuberant sister) in "Pirates." Here's a picture of Michelle wowing the crowd back at our Ramsay "find it" event, "Opera on Scotsman's Hill," in 2012 (a rather less ambitious pop-up event than a full-scale opera in a tent... but very fun nonetheless!)
Most of all, it was fun to see a major opera company having so much fun. (If you don't believe me, check out the URL when you click on the link to Calgary Opera's Pirates of Penzance page.) I hope this Opera in the Village thing becomes an annual tradition!
I have to go to bed now, but you can bet these rollicking melodies will be the last thing that go through my head before I fall asleep. Good night!