The Lake George Opera opened its season Thursday night with a fabulous production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance” at the Spa Little Theatre.
It sparkled. The voices all soared. The orchestra under conductor Curt Tucker was light, bouyant and subtle. And the acting was slyly convincing, not too boisterous and always charming. The singers obviously had fun, and the capacity crowd had a great time.
Director Nelson Sheeley resisted the temptation to update on any level. Instead, he blocked the more than 20 players in inventive and often geometric shapes and insisted that every word was crystal clear. The singers were allowed to dig into their characters, which made for a more flavorful interpretation. Pacing was light and quick with no down time between moments or scenes.
Everyone sang well. Colin Ainsworth was a handsome Frederic with a tenor voice that pealed with clarity and volume. Khori Dastoor as love interest Mabel had a big coloratura soprano that flew like a bird from phrase to phrase with effortless high notes. Baritone Curt Olds, the Pirate King, was lusty and mellifluous. Robert Orth in the plum role of the Major General pranced and preened, skillfully navigated the hundreds of words in his opening “I Am a Major General” and brought humor whenever possible to his part.
Kathryn Cowdrick as Frederic’s nurse Ruth and the sergeant of police Keith Jurosko both sang robustly, and the male and the female choruses sang with great vigor and clarity.
Garett Wilson created two sets that encapsulated each act’s action. The first act was set on the cliffs and beach of Cornwall, and the second act was at the family cemetery of the nearby estate. David Yergan created warm lighting for most of the scenes, and the dawn light of the second act was especially appealing. Alan Michael Smith used a dainty pastel palette for the ladies and motley garb for the men.
The orchestra was on the top of the cliffs in the back — an effective location that didn’t affect its volume or ability to project.
“The Pirates of Penzance” is a must-see. Other performances are July 6, 9 and 12.