CONTACT: PETER ALEXANDER
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0072; fax (319) 384-0024
(NOTE TO EDITORS: It is typical for the Madrigal Dinners performances to
sell out. We suggest that you check with the box office just before publication
of this story, so that you can give your readers the most up-to-date information
on ticket availability.)
19th annual edition of Elizabethan Madrigal Dinners at UI Dec. 11-14
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Audiences will have the opportunity to enter a world
of "olden-times" fantasy at the University of Iowa's 19th annual
Elizabethan Madrigal Dinners, with generous servings of music, dance and
food served in a Renaisssance courtly setting.
The dinners, a joint presentation of the UI School of Music and the
Iowa Memorial Union (IMU), will be at 6:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Dec.
11 and 12, and at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 13 and
14, in the IMU Main Lounge.
Actors, musicians, dancers, designers and technicians transform the
Main Lounge of the IMU into the great hall of a make-believe Elizabethan
court, where honored guests are welcomed by the King and Queen, served
a candle-lit feast and entertained by songs, instrumental music, pageantry
The feast, prepared "to the Queen's taste," will feature wassail;
apple and watercress sallet with toasted walnuts and apple cider vinaigrette;
roste beefe en croute de sel et poivre aux herbes (roast beef in a crust
of salt, pepper and herbs); gratin of winter squash with peas and tiny
whole onions; rosemary lemon cream custard with candied violets; and country
bread with herb butter. A non-beef entree of spinach, cheese, and squash
roulade. is also available if ordered in advance.
Serving as host at the court will be Gerald Roe and Myrene Hoover as
the King and Queen of Revels, and their Lord Chamberlain, played by theatre
arts faculty member Eric Forsythe. The streets of the kingdom, outside
the Main Lounge, will be alive with beggars played by Luis Sierra, Evelyn
Stanske, and Rex VanDorp, and street peddler Rosemary Clark. Rachael Lindhart
will tell fortunes.
Inside the great hall, strolling minstrels in re-creations of Renaissance
costumes will charm and delight with their performances. Jester Rob Frisch
will entertain, and Tom Bliese, for the 17th year, will amaze audiences
with feats of magic before and during dinner.
The UI Madrigal Singers will perform traditional Christmas carols and
compositions by European composers of the 16th and 17th centuries. UI School
of Music graduate student Dirk Garner will conduct the group. Fourteen
madrigal singers and four quartets will entertain guests with a new selection
of songs programmed especially for this year's royal feast.
Renaissance courtly dances reconstructed by theatre arts faculty member
Rachelle Tsachor, and country dances reconstructed by Mark McCusker and
Judith Keefe will be performed to the accompaniment of the "Queen's
Consort" instrumental ensemble directed by Ruth Williams. The nobility,
always formal and proper, will perform courtly dances, but the servants,
giving way to the joyful emotions of the season, will dance with greater
Ceremonial fanfares performed by a trumpet ensemble directed by Anna
Yoder will add to the festive atmosphere.
Madrigal singing began as an entertainment among noble amateurs in Renaissance
Italy. It quickly spread throughout Europe, reaching the height of its
popularity in Elizabethan England, where several collections of madrigals
were printed in Queen Elizabeth's honor.
Throughout upper-class England -- from homes of nobility and wealthy
merchants to the royal court -- the singing and dancing of madrigals became
a customary part of refined social life.
In private homes, printed music was distributed after the meal and the
guests, in a gamelike atmosphere, would challenge one another to sing the
latest or most popular madrigals. At the royal court the singing of madrigals
became part of elaborate entertainments staged for the queen.
Re-creations of the Elizabethan madrigal evenings, with an emphasis
on Christmas carols, have become increasingly popular as part of the holiday
celebrations on college campuses and in communities around the United States
since the 1960s. Madrigal dinners were first staged at the UI in 1979.
The UI Madrigal Dinners production combines the talents of faculty and
students from the UI School of Music and department of theater arts, along
with members of the Iowa City community. The original concept and script
were created by Marcia Thayer, and the production design is by theatre
arts emeritus faculty member David Thayer.
Costumes were designed by Gertrude Storm, Eleanor Bowers, Cindy Kubu
and Margaret Wenk of the Performing Arts Production Unit. Stage director
is Rachael Lindhart; production manager is David Holcomb. The feast will
be prepared under the supervision of Greg Black and chefs Tracy Tonning
and Barry Greenberg of the IMU.
Tickets for the 17th annual Elizabethan Madrigal Dinners are $30 and
are available from the University Box Office in the IMU. Box Office hours
are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday.
Tickets may be reserved by calling (319) 335-3041, or toll-free in Iowa,
1-800-346-4401. VISA, MasterCard, Discover cards and American Express cards
are accepted. Proceeds go to scholarship funds in the School of Music and
the department of theatre arts.
Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI-sponsored
events. Persons with a disability who require an accommodation in order
to attend the Madrigal Dinners should inform box office personnel of their
needs at the time they purchase tickets.