December 31 – Pirates of Penzance, Cockettes

1879

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

1969

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 )

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December 30 – Prokofiev and Porter

1938


Mahen Theatre, built in 1882, lit by Edison

Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev‘s ballet Romeo and Juliet gets a censored premiere in the Provincial Theater in Brno, Czechoslovakia.


Prokofiev

 
Prokofiev does not attend; by then designated a ‘degenerate modernist’ (too darn hot), he’s not allowed to travel outside the Soviet Union. Six more performances follow. Another version censored over Prokofiev’s objections is presented at the Kirov Theatre in Leningrad on January 11, 1940.
 
The first full production is staged in London in 1955 … two years after Prokofiev’s death. (*) His many great works are heard around the world today — who remembers the petty bureaucrats who tortured him?
 
 ( Fansite No. 13 Dance (LSO, Gergiev)  Fight (Tbilisi) 

1948

With music and lyrics by Cole Porter(*), musical Kiss Me, Kate opens on Broadway in the New Century Theatre for 1,077 performances.


Porter

 
Based in Shakespeare’s comedy play The Taming of the Shrew, Porter’s biggest hit is the first to win the Tony Award — full name, Antoinette Perry Awards for Excellence in Theatre, founded in 1947 — for Best Musical.
 
A 3D1953 film version stars Kathryn Grayson and ever-present film musical stalwart Howard Keel.
 
In four years Senator McCarthy will begin proving that the US has always been tough on degenerate modernists.
 
 ( Porter fansite
So In Love (Ella)  Too Darn Hot  This Moment On (Judy) 

Anniversaries from music history, links to quality articles.

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