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.
You may contact David Thayer, production designer for all 20 years of
the Elizabethan Madrigal Dinners, at (319) 337-2052, or by e-mail at <email@example.com>.
20th annual edition of Elizabethan Madrigal Dinners at UI Dec. 10-13
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Audiences will have the opportunity to visit the
times of England's legendary Queen Elizabeth I at the University of Iowa's
20th annual Elizabethan Madrigal Dinners with generous servings of music,
dance and food served in a 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.
10 and 11 and at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 12 and
13 in the IMU Main Lounge.
A cherished holiday tradition at the UI, the Elizabethan Madrigal Dinners
offer entrance to a world of make believe. With the help of actors, musicians,
dancers, designers and technicians, the Main Lounge of the IMU becomes
the great hall of an imaginary Elizabethan court, where honored guests
are welcomed by the King and Queen, served a candle-lit feast and entertained
by songs, instrumental music, pageantry and dancing.
The feast, prepared "to the Queen's taste," will feature wassail;
salade of apple, butternut, watercress and cabbage with honey mustard dressing;
three-peppercorn roasted loin of beouf; melange of winter vegetables; country
bread and butter; and minted lemon creme brulee. A non-beef entree 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 John Cameron. The streets of the kingdom, outside the
Main Lounge, will be alive with beggars played by Evelyn Stanske, Jerry
Ortega and Rex VanDorp, and street peddler Rosemary Clark. Rachael Lindhart
will tell fortunes.
Inside the great hall, the royal couples from Poland, Bavaria and other
European lands will enter with all the pomp and dignity of their station.
Strolling minstrels in re-creations of Renaissance costumes will charm
and delight the audience with their performances. Jester Justin Rose will
entertain, and Tom Bliese, for the 18th year, will amaze audiences with
feats of magic before and during dinner.
The UI Madrigal Singers will perform traditional Christmas carols and
compositions from across Europe, including English, French, German, Dutch,
Italian, Spanish and Swedish Christmas songs. UI School of Music graduate
student Rebecca Seeman 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 Rachelle Palnick Tsachor,
and country dances reconstructed by Mark McCusker 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 abandon.
Ceremonial fanfares performed by a trumpet ensemble directed by Adam
Robertson and Brian Unlah 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 Eric Forsythe; production manager is Rick Loula. The feast will be prepared
under the supervision of Greg Black and chefs Tracy Tonning and Barry Greenberg
of the IMU.
Tickets for the 20th annual Elizabethan Madrigal Dinners are $36, $32
and $28 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.