IU Opera Theater's 'Madama Butterfly' to play at Clowes Memorial Hall in November

October 25, 2016

Indiana University Opera Theater, housed in the Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington, is bringing its new production of Giacomo Puccini's "Madama Butterfly" to Indianapolis.

The event marks the first time IU Opera has presented one of its productions in Indianapolis independently. It partnered with Indianapolis Opera in March 2013 to present Philip Glass' "Akhnaten" at Clowes Memorial Hall at Butler University.

"Madama Butterfly" will premiere in Bloomington's Musical Arts Center, with performances Nov. 4 and 5 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 6 at 2 p.m. (ticket information). Then the production will travel to Clowes Memorial Hall for shows Nov. 11 and 12, at 8 p.m. each day. Purchase tickets for Indianapolis performances at butlerartscenter.org or the Clowes Memorial Hall Box office, through Ticketmaster outlets, or via charge by phone at 800-982-2787.

"Our students are looking forward to the opportunity to perform in the city of Indianapolis, which has such a rich operatic history, and in a professional venue as respected as Clowes Hall," said Gwyn Richards, dean of the Jacobs School and the IU Opera Theater general manager. "What an experience for them to perform before new audiences and in a different operatic home. The adaptive process they will go through will provide enormous growth."

Part of the mission of the school is also to bring cultural performances to different areas of the state, allowing a more diverse audience to enjoy them.

"IU Opera Theater is extremely pleased to bring 'Madama Butterfly' to Indianapolis," said Tim Stebbins, the Ted Jones Executive Director of Production at the Musical Arts Center. "This opportunity allows us to showcase not only incredibly talented young artists from the Jacobs School of Music but also our amazing artistic team. We feel we are not only providing a great experience for our students, but also giving back to the state of Indiana, which helps support everything we do."

Enter to win

Enter to win two tickets to the Nov. 11 or 12 performance of "Madama Butterfly" at Clowes Memorial Hall at Butler University. The contest opens Tuesday, Oct. 25, at 1 a.m. and closes Friday, Oct. 28, at 5 p.m. You must have an IU username to enter.

Artistic team

The opera's artistic team includes guest artists Lesley Koenig, stage director, and Steven Kemp, set designer. Rounding out the group are IU faculty members Arthur Fagen, Jacobs professor of orchestral conducting, and Linda Pisano, head of the design and technology area of the Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance. All of the artistic team members boast impressive credentials, including:

  • Koenig was first engaged by the Metropolitan Opera as a stage director at age 23 and was also its director of production as well as the general director of Opera Boston.
  • Kemp, lauded for his work on and off-Broadway, also has collaborated with numerous renowned opera companies and designed IU Opera Theater's hit "Dead Man Walking" last season.
  • Fagen has been the music director of the Atlanta Opera since 2010 and regularly conducts for the world's leading opera companies, including Lyric Opera of Chicago and Deutsche Oper Berlin.
  • Pisano's designs have been featured in companies throughout the United States, Canada and the U.K. and exhibited around the world, including in Prague, Toronto, Moscow and Beijing. She has designed numerous productions for IU Opera Theater.

To provide valuable performance experience to a greater number of students, IU Opera Theater double-casts all of its productions.

"Madama Butterfly" is a drama about love, loyalty and loss set in Nagasaki, Japan, in the early 1900s. Mathilda Edge from Chandlerville, Illinois, and Marlen Nahhas of Houston will share the title role of the geisha, also called Cio-Cio.

The role of B.F. Pinkerton, the U.S. Navy lieutenant who takes her as a wife, will be played by Trey Smagur from Clarkesville, Georgia, and Justin Stolz of Thunder Bay, Ontario. Jonathan Bryan of Dallas and Eric Smedsrud of Minneapolis will portray his friend Sharpless. Liz Culpepper of Cedar Park, Texas, and Kaitlyn McMonigle of Ocala, Florida, will play Cio-Cio’s maid Suzuki.  

The Nov. 4, 5 and 6 performances in Bloomington will be live-streamed via IUMusic Live.

IU Opera Theater

Since its beginning in 1948, IU Opera has built a reputation for adventurous programming with a careful mix of masterpieces and many world, American and collegiate premieres. In 1981, it became the first -- and thus far, the only -- university opera company to appear on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera.

The Indiana University Jacobs School of Music stages at least six productions a year in the Musical Arts Center, with roles sung by students who have already won international acclaim. While at Indiana University, these young artists are taught by a world-renowned faculty that famed soprano Beverly Sills described as "absolutely mind-boggling."

The Clowes Memorial Hall performances of "Madama Butterfly" have been made possible by the Christel DeHaan Family Foundation, the Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation Inc. and the Central Indiana Community Foundation.

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