March 11th, 2007

Wyeth - Captain Blood

The Slave of Duty

Last night I saw the New York City Opera’s production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance. I’d always assumed that it was a frothy comedy from start to end, so I was caught off guard by the scene in Act Two where Frederic, having learned that his indenture to the pirates is unfinished, bids farewell to Mabel. Although the reason for their separation is undeniably absurd — Frederic is bound until his twenty-first birthday, which, since he was born on February 29th, will not occur until 1940 — for a moment the comedy drops away, and we are left with two people in love who are being forced to say goodbye. When Frederic sang,
Ah, must I leave thee here
In endless night to dream,
Where joy is dark and drear
And sorrow all supreme —
Where nature, day by day,
Will sing in altered tone,
This dreary roundelay,
“He loves thee — he is gone.
Fa-la, la-la,
Fa-la, la-la.
He loves thee — he is gone.”

I choked up.