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Odyssey Opera Stages Gilbert and Sullivan Operetta

Patience; or Bunthorne’s Bride stars CFA alums


Founded just four years ago, Boston-based Odyssey Opera has earned a reputation for presenting adventurous programming. This year’s season has been devoted to an exploration of works inspired by the world and the writings of Oscar Wilde. The company concludes its Wilde Opera Nights series this weekend with a fully staged performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience; or Bunthorne’s Bride. Inspired by the aesthetic movement that swept Victorian England in the late 19th century, the comic opera offers a satirical look at fame, art, and pretention, much as Wilde did in his work. The opera is being performed tonight and tomorrow night at the Boston University Theatre.

This season’s Wilde series included productions of The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Lowell Lieberman, The Importance of Being Earnest, by Mario Castelnuevo-Tedesco, and The Dwarf, by Alexander von Zemlinsky, all adapted from Wilde’s works.

Patience marked Gilbert and Sullivan’s sixth collaboration. While not as well known today as The Pirates of Penzance and H.M.S. Pinafore, the operetta was widely popular when it debuted in London in 1881, running nearly 600 performances. Set against the aesthetic craze, Patience pits the repressed Victorian elite against the passions of the movement, skewering the pretentiousness of the time. The operetta features the composers’ trademark wordplay and humor.

Starring in the title roles are two BU alums: Sara Heaton (CFA’07) as Patience and Aaron Engebreth (CFA’99) as Reginald Bunthorne. Engebreth, a lifelong Gilbert and Sullivan fan, says he is elated to be appearing in the Odyssey Opera production. “Patience is particularly exciting because it’s not as frequently performed as some more popular Gilbert and Sullivan, so there is a lot to discover,” he says.

The operetta is directed by Frank Kelly and conducted by Odyssey founder Gil Rose.

Odyssey Opera’s production of Patience; or Bunthorne’s Bride will be performed tonight, Friday, June 2, and tomorrow, Saturday, June 3, at 7:30 p.m., at the Boston University Theatre, 264 Huntington Ave., Boston. Tickets are $30 to $120 and can be purchased online here or in person at the BU Theatre box office, 617-826-1626. Take an MBTA Green Line E trolley to Symphony. The operetta runs approximately three hours.

Connor Lenahan can be reached at lenahan@bu.edu.

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