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Release: Nov. 5, 1999

UI Opera Theater will present scenes from seven operas in free programs

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Opera Theater will present a program of opera scenes, featuring graduate and undergraduate students, in two free performances, at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20 and 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 21 in the Opera Studio Room of the Voxman Music Building.

To reach the Opera Studio, audience members may enter either through the front entrance of the Voxman Music Building, or in the back next to the Hancher stage entrance.

The program will represent the first outing for Sally Stunkel, the new director of the Opera Theater, who has directed the scenes on the program. Stunkel joined the faculty of the UI School of Music in August, taking the position that was held for 18 years by Beaumont Glass until his retirement in 1998.

The program for the performances Nov. 20 and 21 features scenes from a wide variety of works and styles, ranging from the 18th to the 20th centuries. Works represented on the program will be:
-- "Trouble in Tahiti" by Leonard Bernstein
-- "The Elixir of Love" by Gaetano Donizetti
-- "Werther" by Jules Massenet
-- "The Beggar's Opera" by John Gay
-- "I Pagliacci" by Ruggiero Leoncavallo
-- "The Secret Marriage" by Dominico Cimarosa
-- "The Rakes Progress" by Igor Stravinsky

All scenes will be performed by students in the opera program of the UI School of Music. Piano accompanist will be Matthew Castle, who has also provided musical coaching for the performances.

Stunkel comes to the UI with extensive experience in opera stage direction as well as singing, acting, dancing and teaching. She has directed for many American opera companies, including the Sacramento Opera, the Tulsa Opera, the Opera Theater of St. Louis, the Skylight Opera, the Aspen Music Festival, the Kentucky Opera and the Four Corners Opera. She has more than 70 productions to her credit, including straight theater as well as opera. She headed the opera programs at the former St. Louis Conservatory of Music, the University of Tennessee and the University of the Pacific in California.

Stunkel has performed both as an opera singer, performing with the Colorado Springs Opera, the Skylight Opera and the Baltimore Opera, and as an actor in spoken plays, having recently portrayed Amanda in "The Glass Menagerie" and Eleanor of Aquitaine in "The Lion in Winter." With more than 15 years of dance training, she has also choreographed several productions.

Known for her expertise in teaching acting to opera singers, Stunkel has taught in the apprentice programs at the Des Moines Metro Opera, the Chatauqua Opera, the Banff Center in Alberta, Canada, and the Aspen Music Festival. She was a co-founder/director/writer for The Opera Parade and Kinderopera, two touring educational opera companies for children in Maryland. She is a graduate of the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, where she received the National Opera Association's award for best opera for her productions of Gian Carlo Menotti's "The Consul" and Dominick Argento's "Postcard from Morocco."

An accomplished singer, writer and teacher, Castle is serving as visiting coach-accompanist for the UI Opera Theater. His singing roles in opera and musical comedy have included Henrik Egerman in "A Little Night Music," Nemorino in "The Elixir Of Love," Edvard Grieg in "Song Of Norway," Archibald Craven in "The Secret Garden," Marco Palmieri in "The Gondoliers" and Rooster in "Annie," as well as dozens of cabaret and dinner theater appearances.

As an accompanist, Castle has played in hundreds of recitals and theatrical productions. He also has extensive experience as a musical director, with credits in professional, university, community and school theaters. His compositions represent many genres, ranging from chamber music to musical theater and opera. He holds a bachelor's degree from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., and a master's degree from Northern Illinois University.

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