Dustin Steinhoff, Staff Writer
University of Missouri-St. Louis students were given the chance to see macaws and eagles up-close, participate in treasure hunts and attend a comedic pirate-themed opera during the campus’ first Pirate Week.
UMSL’s Pirate Week consisted of a week-long celebration with pirate-themed events. There was a campus-wide treasure hunt, Pirates Seen Through Art History event, a contribution by the World Bird Sanctuary, a showing of “Muppet Treasure Island,” and “The Pirates of Penzance” opera.
On March 14, the World Bird Sanctuary brough various types of pirate themed birds to the Touhill Main Terrace Lobby. These birds included macaws, the bird typically depicted sitting on pirates’ shoulders, as well as bald eagles who are known as “pirates of the sky” due to their tendency to swoop down and steal people’s food.
“The Pirates of Penzance,” a comedy opera performed by UMSL Opera Theater at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center, ran from March 16 to March 18. Stella Markou, the director of vocal studies and opera theater at UMSL, describes “The Pirates of Penzance” as a “celebration of music and silliness.” The opera revolves around a band of pirates who are not so great at what they do; they are not very good at robbing and plundering. Upon turning 21 years-old, one of the pirates falls in love but cannot be with her due to his commitment to the pirates.
“The Pirates of Penzance” was originally created by Arthur Sullivan and and W.S. Grant in 1873 and debuted at the Fifth Avenue Theatre in New York. While the basic premise has remained the same over the years, it is often adjusted be more contemporary when put into production in modern times. For instance, when Markou adapted her vision for the play, she gave a more prominent role to the mermaids that originally had a lesser role.
Before the opera begins, there was an educational lecture from pirate expert Dr. Mark Hannah. Markou included Hannah’s pre-show lecture as a way to combine the thematic, comedic and theatrical elements of pirate culture.