Light opera fantastic

It’s a feast this week for fans of Gilbert and Sullivan, whose distinctively British comic operettas skewer formal manners and high society. Their work still enjoys a devoted following more than a century after its heyday, and there’s a rare conjunction of two Gilbert and Sullivan shows on the boards during the next few days.

Tonight and Friday night, the Mondavi Center hosts a professional touring production of The Pirates of Penzance by the Carl Rosa Opera Company, which is based in London. Last year, the Carl Rosa Opera visited the Mondavi Center with The Mikado and sold out the show. Next year, they’re coming with H.M.S. Pinafore.

The Carl Rosa production of Pirates of Penzance features costumes and sets designed to evoke the 1879 premiere, and includes some recently restored material. Gilbert and Sullivan staged Penzance in New York and London in rapid sequence, as a means of securing copyright protection on both sides of the Atlantic. Their previous operetta, 1875’s H.M.S. Pinafore, was “pirated” by dozens of American theater companies, who staged unauthorized—and sometimes rewritten—versions of the show without paying royalties.

If you want to see a legitimate version of H.M.S. Pinafore this weekend, you can. This is the final weekend for the local production by Light Opera Theatre of Sacramento. Debbie and Mike Baad direct the show, which features musical direction by Sean Bianco, host of Capital Public Radio’s Friday Night at the Opera.

Pirates of Penzance plays at the Mondavi Center on the UC Davis campus at 8 p.m. on April 26 and 27. Tickets are $19.50 to $59. Visit for more information or call (530) 754-2787.

The Light Opera Theatre of Sacramento’s production of H.M.S. Pinafore plays April 27 and 28 at 8 p.m., and April 29 at 2 p.m. at the 24th Street Theatre, adjacent to the Sierra 2 Community Center. Tickets are $13 to $16. For reservations, call (916) 978-5800 or visit