December 31 – Pirates of Penzance, Cockettes


Gilbert and Sullivan‘s fifth collaboration, the comic opera The Pirates of Penzance, premieres at the Fifth Avenue Theatre in NYC.

The superlative comic opera, full of witty prickles & catching tunage, is loosed on the Victorian world it sends up. By opening it in America, the boys clinch a considerably superior remunerance … compared to Pinafore, which had been widely pirated in the US.

Hail, Poetry, thou heaven-born maid!
Thou gildest e’en the pirate’s trade:
Hail, flowing fount of sentiment!
All hail, Divine Emollient!

Modernized productions include a musical version which opens on Broadway Jan. 10, 1981 for 787 performances (& a Tony Award), its film version, The Pirates of Penzance (Feb. 18, 1983) (*), and Australia’s The Pirate Movie (Aug. 6, 1982)(*), ‘a clever romp in its own right.’ (Kristy MicNichol, Christopher Atkins)

The 1968 recording by the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company is highly regarded.
▷@ GaS discography ▹ ▷GaS archive ▹
1929 D’Oyly Carte recording


First performance of the Cockettes at the Palace Theatre (*) (*) (*) in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood.

The group is the subject of a 2002 documentary film.

A disagreement in 1971 spawns The Angels of Light, ‘a “family” of dedicated artists who sang, danced, painted and sewed for the Free Theater’. (*)

The Angels in turn spawn experimental, punk never-disbanded Tuxedomoon in 1977. Their 1979 single No Tears ‘remains a post-punk cult classic’. Their first album Half-Mute appears in 1980 on Residents label Ralph Records. (*) In 2004 they resume recording, creating Cabin in the Sky (released on the Crammed label); a 2014 album is titled Pink Narcissus.

( Cockettes site ) ( Tuxedomoon site )