Music by Arthur Sullivan. Lyrics and Libretto by W.S. Gilbert
Frederic is celebrating his coming of age and release from his Pirate’s Apprenticeship with the pirates of Penzance, all of whom are orphans, and unable to harm anyone of similar background. He was unfortunately apprenticed to the pirates as a small child when his nursemaid Ruth, mistakenly heard his father’s instructions to apprentice him to a pilot. Since that day, she has been with Frederic, and now harbour a desire to marry him but, Frederic has met and fallen in love with Mabel and her sisters have been claimed by the pirates as their future brides. The sisters’ father, the Major-General, is appalled at this possibility, and tells them he is an orphan, knowing that this will result in his childrens’ immediate release.
Now, as an ex-pirate, Frederic feels that his duty is to society and he immediately arranges for a police force to capture the pirates. When Frederic discovers from Ruth and the Pirate King that as his birthday is on the 29 February which only occurs once every four years, he has only had 5 birthdays, and his Apprenticeship states that he is bound to the pirates until his 21st birthday. Realising that he has not reached 21, he feels that his loyalty is to the pirates and tells them that the General is not really an orphan. The Pirate King is furious to learn he has been tricked and starts plotting to capture the General, his daughters and the policemen, but is stopped in his tracks when the Sergeant demands they surrender in the name of Queen Victoria.
Eventually Ruth explains that they are noblemen who have gone astray and not pirates, and the General orders their release and restores them to their rightful station and offers them his daughters in marriage.
The Pirate King Samuel
Sergeant of Police
Daughters – Mabel, Kate, Isabel and Edith