March 15, 1892 - (Day Nine)


Click the Play button below to listen.

Sorry, flash is not available.

Dear Martha,

I wish you could have been with me for the performance of The Pirates of Penzance. The Grand Opera House was a sight. It had carved balconies, artistic silhouettes painted on the ceiling, gold-covered drama and comedy masks, velvet curtains, and plush, upholstered seats. It looked like something out of a picture postcard. I now know that the reason they call it “The Grand Opera House” is because it is very grand, indeed.

Miss Melman told us that the operetta would be funny, and she was not kidding.

We spent the afternoon laughing. I never knew what I’ve been missing.

The story is about a man, Frederick, who has grown up as an apprentice to a group of pirates. The pirates like to think that they are fierce, but they are really a bunch of marshmallows.

Frederick has to work for the pirates until he turns 21 years of age, which he has. He tries to leave their company, but at the last minute, just before he is to marry the beautiful Mabel, the pirates inform him that he was born on leap year, February 29th, and that he has only had five birthdays. That means that in their eyes, he is only five years old, not 21. But in the end, it all turns out well, and Frederick gets to marry Mabel.

We laughed at so many things during the performance, my sides hurt. The pirates acted crazy and swung out over the audience on ropes. One pirate winked at me and dropped a beautiful pink rose in my lap.

He was very handsome. I winked back, and Mama pinched me.

She whispered, “Don’t be fresh.”

Oh! Mama just doesn’t understand me sometimes. I was just getting into the spirit of the play.

The women’s costumes were made of the finest silks and satins in bright yellow, red, blue, coral, turquoise, and purple. They were exquisite and stylish. During the intermission, I heard Miss Melman and Mama discussing the styles and fabrics. I never knew Mama was interested in those kinds of things. Great day in the morning!

Another feature that was incredible was the orchestra. There were at least 25 musicians, all dressed in fine black evening clothes. I’ve heard Pap play the fiddle before, but this was nothing like that. During the second intermission, Miss Melman took me forward to look in the orchestra pit. She pointed out the cello, viola, oboe, clarinet, trumpet, French horn, flute, piccolo, and the kettle drums. There were others, but I forget what all they were. I’ve never seen so many instruments in one place.

The man who is the piano player came over to speak to Miss Melman.

He said, “I see you used your tickets. I’m glad to see you here.”

Miss Melman introduced me as her student. The piano player said, “Well, Theodosia, what do you think of our production of The Pirates of Penzance?”

I said, “I think it’s spectacular.”

He said, “Then, please come backstage after the performance and meet the cast.”

Mama was impressed that we were allowed to go backstage when the musical was over. I met the pirate who gave me the pink rose, the pirate who had winked at me. Mama was standing beside me.

He said, “I’m glad you brought your sister with you to meet the cast.”

Mama blushed! I bet she secretly likes handsome pirates, too.

I want to be a singer when I grow up and star in a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. I will never forget this day for as long as I live. The only thing that would have made it better is if you had been there, too.