When South Pacific opened at the Majestic Theater in New York City on April 7, 1949, it became part of the American Musical Heritage. Emile de Becque was sung by the great Metropolitan Opera lyric bass, Ezio Pinza. He sang with the Metropolitan Opera for twenty-two years. The other lead was the renowned Broadway musical star, Mary Martin. It was the first time that an older man was the lead in a Broadway musical. Today, South Pacific is part of the opera repertoire.
At a time of segregation and intolerance in our country, Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II wrote the poignant “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught.” It is a song that resonates today in countries around the world where hate and fear exist. Although it did not become a rallying cry for our Civil Rights Movement, it was an early call for a better more tolerant country.
Let us now think of Verdi’s Nabucco, a grand opera with its great chorus ‘Va pensiero.’ It became the rallying cry for Italian patriots who wanted a unified and free Italy.
Grand operas and American musicals often have a message of tolerance, freedom and love. South Pacific, like Verdi’s operas, carry this message. At this time in our country, how wonderful it is that the Annapolis Opera is producing South Pacific.
The show is set in a beautiful South Pacific island during World War II against a background of intercultural romance and magnificent music. Come to the Annapolis Opera on November 5th or 6th for an enchanted experience.