Pirates of Penzance Sails into Cobb Performing Arts Center

The Atlanta Opera Presents a Colorful, Rollicking Production About The Pirates Who Take Pity on Orphans

Speakeysie News Desk – January 5, 2022

Kevin Burdette, center, as the Pirate King. 

ATLANTA – A colorful production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance sails into The Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre this January as The Atlanta Opera returns to the mainstage, featuring Atlanta favorite tenor Santiago Ballerini as Frederick and Curt Olds as Major General Stanley.

For a link to a short podcast about the show, click here

Created and directed by Seán Curran and performed under the baton of Francesco Milioto, The Pirates of Penzance is a rollicking adventure featuring a band of pirates with a soft spot for orphans who set out to court the daughters of Major General Stanley.  

“Pirates is pure escapist fun. Coming out of this pandemic, we wanted to program a witty comedy that will offer our audience a light, magical evening out. This beloved production and a stellar cast, are guaranteed to provide just that,” Carl W. Knobloch, Jr. General and Artistic Director Tomer Zvulun

The Atlanta Opera presents The Pirates of Penzance on Jan. 22, 25, 28, and 30 at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. Tickets start at $45 and can be purchased at atlantaopera.org or by calling 404-881-8885. The opera will be performed in English with English supertitles. All individual tickets to the 2021-2022 Atlanta Opera season are on sale now. 

Health and safety remain a priority for The Atlanta Opera. To limit the spread of Covid at this production, The Atlanta Opera has a number of protocols in place, including a requirement that all audience members wear masks throughout the performance and proof of negative test or vaccination. In the coming weeks, the opera will consult with their Health & Safety Taskforce in order to update these policies.

Ballerini, an alumnus of the Atlanta Opera Studio program and one of the most recognized tenors in the bel canto repertoire, will sing the role of the Frederic, the pirate apprentice, in his return to The Atlanta Opera stage. Ballerini has previously starred in Atlanta productions of Daughter of the Regiment (2018) and La Cenorentola (2019). 

Hailed by Opera News as “a wonderful singing actor”, baritone Olds returns to Atlanta to sing Major General Stanley in this production.  The versatile Olds has built his career singing roles in both opera and musicals, known not only for his work in Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado, but also Broadway’s Riverdance, Cats and the current international tour of The Phantom of the Opera.  

Known for his “rich, resonant baritone” (Opera News), Craig Irvin will sing the Pirate King. Widely recognized for his portrayal of Lt. Horstmayer in Kevin Puts’ Silent Night, which he has sung across the country including in Atlanta, Irvin is equally at home in dramatic and comic roles, performing with Opera Company of Philadelphia, Minnesota Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Sarasota Opera, Utah Opera and Des Moines Metro Opera. 

British/American soprano Susanne Burgess, described as “a unique combination of precision and wonder”, will sing the role of Frederic’s patient sweetheart Mabel. Susanne spent the 2020-21 season with The Atlanta Opera, performing the role of Lucy Brown in The Threepenny Opera and remains with the company in 2021-22 as a The Atlanta Opera Studio artist in residence. 

With a career that takes her throughout the U.S. and Europe, “powerhouse” mezzo-soprano Katharine Goeldner will sing the role of Ruth, the nursemaid. Recent performances include her Minnesota Orchestra debut as Herodias in Richard Strauss’ Salome, Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 with Orchestra Iowa, Dalila in Samson et Dalila at Virginia Opera and Amneris in Aida at Utah Opera. 

Curran, a sought-after choreographer and director for opera and theatre, his work has appeared on stages across the country, including the Metropolitan Opera, Broadway and Shakespeare in the Park as well as the San Francisco Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and others. The company he founded, Seán Curran Company, tours internationally under Curran’s leadership.    

Following his turn at the podium for The Atlanta Opera’s Big Tent production of Threepenny Opera, Milioto returns to lead this production. A rising star in the younger generation of conductors, he is forging a unique career as a versatile interpreter of both the operatic and orchestral repertoire. He currently serves as Music Director of OPERA San Antonio and Artistic Advisor to the Florentine Opera in Milwaukee.

The production will be filmed by Felipe Barral and will be released on The Atlanta Opera’s Spotlight Media streaming platform later in 2022.  

About The Atlanta Opera

The Atlanta Opera’s mission is to build the major international opera company that Atlanta deserves, while reimagining what opera can be. Founded in 1979, the company works with world-renowned singers, conductors, directors, and designers who seek to enhance the art form. Under the leadership of internationally recognized stage director and Carl W. Knobloch, Jr. General & Artistic Director Tomer Zvulun, The Atlanta Opera expanded from three to four mainstage productions at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre and launched the acclaimed Discoveries series. In recent years, the company has been named among the “Best of 2015” by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, has been nominated for a 2016 International Opera Award, and won ArtsATL’s 2019 Luminary Award for Community Engagement in recognition of its successful Veterans Program in partnership with the Home Depot Foundation. In addition, The Atlanta Opera was featured in a 2018 Harvard Business School case study about successful organizational growth, and Zvulun presented a TEDx Talk at Emory University titled “The Ambidextrous Opera Company, or Opera in the Age of iPhones.” During the COVID-19 pandemic, The Atlanta Opera was one of the only companies in the world to create a full, alternative season, consisting of no less than 40 live performances in two different outdoor venues, including a revolutionary custom-designed circus tent. The fundraising goal was tripled, and four new productions were created, each of which employed 150 cast, crew and staff. The critically acclaimed productions and concerts were streamed in HD in the newly created streaming platform “Spotlight Media,” allowing The Atlanta Opera to reach a global audience. National media coverage of the “pandemic season” included features in the Wall Street Journal and PBS Newshour. For more information, visit atlantaopera.org.

The Pirates of Penzance

By Arthur Sullivan

Libretto by W.S. Gilbert 

Running time is approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes. There will be one intermission. 

Creative Team

Conductor: Francesco Milioto

Director: Seán Curran

Set & costume design: James Schuette


Major General Stanley: Curt Olds

Pirate King: Craig Irvin

Frederic: Santiago Ballerini

Mabel: Susanne Burgess

Ruth: Katherine Goeldner

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