This preview has been provided by the North Carolina Symphony.

In 2015, the debut collaborative project between the North Carolina Symphony (NCS) and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) — a semi-staged production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream — received high praise, with Classical Voice North America writing that it succeeded “in bringing a new, immersive theatrical experience to concertgoers” and also noting, “you did not want it to be over, yet once it was, you were left with a feeling of joy that you had experienced it firsthand.” NCS is thrilled to continue to build its partnership with the School of the Arts, presenting The Pirates of Penzance on May 4 through 6 in Raleigh and Wilmington.

UNCSA is North Carolina’s premier arts conservatory, training highly gifted emerging artists; the singers and actors that will appear on stage with the Symphony are likely to be the Broadway stars of tomorrow. Conducted by Music Director Grant Llewellyn and directed by Carl Forsman, Dean of UNCSA’s School of Drama, the Symphony and the cast of 23 students and two faculty members will perform a semi-staged production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s greatest work.

The Pirates of Penzance represented a turning point in Gilbert and Sullivan’s creative style, presenting more individualized characters, more thoroughly developed scenes with longer narrative lines, and musical numbers that enhance the drama. The operetta is full of parody and humor as it tells the story of tender-hearted pirates, a hero constantly tripping over his own obsession with duty, and a corps of police who shake in their boots at the thought of danger. The success of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance firmly cemented the duo’s position at the top of England’s musical theater scene in the late-19th century — and their legacy has lived on through the generations.

Grant Llewellyn still remembers, as a child growing up in Wales, sitting at the family piano and working his way through the well-loved Gilbert and Sullivan scores he found in the piano bench. As he grew into a professional music career, he came to fully appreciate the intricacies in the music. “Gilbert and Sullivan were brilliant in the marriage of words and music. Their works are stunningly elegant, tuneful, and very, very funny — Pirates of Penzance is a laugh a minute!” he says. “We’re delighted to collaborate once again with the University of North Carolina School of the Arts for this semi-staged production.”

Carl Forsman adds, “This partnership between North Carolina’s premier performing arts organization and its premier arts conservatory is a gift to audiences, and certainly to the students who will perform with top-caliber musicians.”

A pre-concert talk with NCS Vice President and General Manager Martin Sher will take place at 6:30 pm before the May 7 performance in Wilmington.

A third collaborative production between NCS and UNCSA is planned for next season: a semi-staged production of Romeo and Juliet in April 2018.

The Pirates of Penzance

Friday, May 5, 2017 at 8:00 pm; Saturday, May 6, 2017 at 3:00 and 8:00 pm
Meymandi Concert Hall
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts (Raleigh)

Sunday, May 7, 2017 at 7:30 pm
The Wilson Center for the Performing Arts
Cape Fear Community College (Wilmington)

North Carolina Symphony
Grant Llewellyn, conductor

University of North Carolina School of the Arts
Carl Forsman, director

Gilbert & Sullivan: The Pirates of Penzance

Online: (TicketMaster fees apply)
By phone: 919.733.2750 ($8 processing fee applies)
NCS State Headquarters
3700 Glenwood Ave., Suite 130
Raleigh (No processing fee)

Wilson Center, 701 North Third St., Wilmington (No processing fee)

About the North Carolina Symphony
Founded in 1932, the North Carolina Symphony (NCS) is a vital and honored component of North Carolina’s cultural life. Its 175 concerts and events annually are greeted with enthusiasm by adults and schoolchildren in more than 90 North Carolina counties — in communities large and small, and in concert halls, auditoriums, gymnasiums, restaurants, clubs, and outdoor settings.

NCS’s state headquarters venue is the spectacular Meymandi Concert Hall at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh. The Symphony’s service across the state includes series in Chapel Hill, Fayetteville, New Bern, Southern Pines, and Wilmington, as well as the Summerfest series at its summer home, the outdoor Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary. Collaborating with performers that range from classical artists, to banjo players, to jazz bands, NCS brings some of the world’s greatest talents to North Carolina.

Committed to engaging students of all ages across North Carolina, NCS leads the most extensive education program of any U.S. orchestra. In alignment with the curriculum set by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, the Symphony provides training and resources for teachers, sends small ensembles into classrooms, and presents full-orchestra Education Concerts experienced by more than 55,000 4th and 5th graders each year. Music Discovery for preschoolers combines music with storytelling, and at the middle and high school levels, students have opportunities to work directly with NCS artists and perform for NCS audiences.

NCS is dedicated to giving voice to new art, and has presented 47 U.S. or world premieres in its history. In March 2017, NCS appeared at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., as one of four orchestras chosen for the inaugural year of SHIFT: A Festival of American Orchestras — an honor that recognized the Symphony’s innovative community partnerships and creative programming that inspires increased interest in new music.

The first state-supported symphony in the country, NCS performs under the auspices of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.