Soprano Brett Kroeger of Riverside and tenor Guy Stretton of Old Greenwich will be taking the stage in the Troupers Light Opera production of HMS Pinafore on April 1, 2, 8 and 9, at the refurbished Wall Street Theatre, 71 Wall Street, Norwalk. In addition to HMS Pinafore, Troupers will perform Victor Herbert’s The Magic Knight. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. for Saturdays, April 1 and 8, and 2:30 for Sundays, April 2 and 9.
Tickets available at trouperslightopera.org or by calling 877-987-6487.
Kroeger will be singing the starring role of Josephine, the Captain’s daughter, who falls in love with the humble sailor Ralph Rackstraw. This will be Kroeger’s fifth performance with Troupers Light Opera, as she has soloed in their previous performances of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Sorcerer, (2016), Patience (2015), Pirates of Penzance (2014), and Victor Herbert’s The Red Mill (2013). Elsewhere Kroeger has appeared with the Opera Manhattan Repertory Theater and the Dicapo Opera Theater and has given recitals in New York and Chicago, at La Fenice in Venice and in the summer festivals of Forte dei Marmi, Pietrasanta and Camogli, Italy. More recent performances have been in New York City, Greenwich and East Hampton in her one-woman WW I cabaret, “Over There: Greatest Hits of the Great War,” a featured role with the Brett Williams Quartet performances in New York City, and singing the national anthem for the National Women’s Hockey League’s Connecticut Whales.
Stretton will be one of Ralph’s fellow sailors aboard the Pinafore, and will also sing in the chorus of Magic Knight. Stretton is a chorus veteran of Troupers Light Opera performances, having sung with Troupers since the 1980s in all of the major operas in the Gilbert and Sullivan repertoire.
HMS Pinafore was W.S. Gilbert’s and Arthur Sullivan’s first major opera, and it took the world by storm after its 1879 London premiere. Although the talented pair would follow it with a string of other fine operas, Pinafore remains, to this day, the definitive Gilbert and Sullivan opus. Ostensibly a satire on the Victorian class system and the British navy, it also deals with the timeless themes of love, money, and human folly. For over 130 years people unfamiliar with opera, with classical music, or even with music in general hum and sing airs from this delightful work.
Now included in the National and State Registers of Historic Places, the Wall Street Theatre building went up in 1915, when it opened as the Regent Theatre. Over the ensuing 100 years, as times changed and the economy fluctuated, the theatre repeatedly changed its ownership, its name, and its focus, while remaining a cultural icon for Fairfield County. Recently refurbished by the non-profit Wall Street Theatre organization, it will host a wide variety of cultural activities for the benefit of the greater Norwalk community.
Starting out in 1946 as an informal group that put on Gilbert and Sullivan operas in private homes, Troupers Light Opera had by 1950 become so popular that they recruited members of the Norwalk Symphony for the orchestra and began building sets for the performances. Today Troupers is a large enterprise, performing with a live orchestra, costumes, and complete stage sets. Talented performers from throughout the tri-state area audition for roles, and Troupers welcomes new members each year. This year Troupers is under the professional stage and musical direction of Emily Trudeau and Eric Kramer, with full orchestra, period costumes and professional set design.