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Lake Holcombe to be taken over by operatic pirates

Opera for the Young (OFTY) is coming to Lake Holcombe School. The company will present The Pirates of Penzance Tuesday, Feb. 4, sponsored by the Lake Holcombe Education Foundation.

A chorus of students from Lake Holcombe will appear onstage, performing right alongside OFTY’s professional artists.

OFTY brings live, professional opera to elementary school audiences. All productions are fully staged, sung in English and created especially for children. Students appear onstage in chorus and cameo roles; they also help design certain elements of the production’s sets and costumes.

The OFTY audiences become acquainted with the original scores of master composers, set in contexts relevant to kids’ 21st century lives. For example, OFTY’s Barber of Seville is updated to the 1950s; Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love is set in the old west; Gretry’s Beauty and the Beast is set in the exotic Indian Ocean; and Mozart’s The Magic Flute is set in outer space.

OFTY’s repertoire also includes an original opera by Gendel & Garton Edie, Super Storm!, Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance, Dvorak’s Rusalka, A Mermaid’s Tale, Humperdink’s Hansel and Gretel, Massenet’s Cinderella, and a work based on the masterpieces of Offenbach, Gluck and Monteverdi entitled, Orpheus Returns.

The troupe annually presents 200 performances, reaching 75,000 children every school year, throughout Wisconsin, northern Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Kentucky.

With The Pirates of Penzance, OFTY’s adaptation brings Gilbert and Sullivan’s swashbuckling operetta alive for young children. Without sacrificing essential story line, language or representative musical score, this is a child-friendly version of a complicated tale.

There is the stalwart Frederic, his sweetheart, Mabel, her garrulous father, the Major General, the robust Pirate King, and Ruth - loving nursemaid to Frederic, all interacting onstage with small pirates, constables and wards from each elementary school.

The morning at Lake Holcombe will have the professionals from OFTY presenting “class chats” with the elementary student, describing more background details of putting on the production. The performance will take place in the afternoon, following rehearsal with the selected students and professionals.

Every OFTY production features four professional singers and one pianist. Professional cast members are selected after competitive auditions held each spring in Chicago, 111., and Madison. All professional roles are triple cast.