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University of Iowa News Release


February 22, 2007

Lecture Takes A Fresh Look At 'The World's Most Popular Opera' March 1

"Reinventing 'La Boheme': Taking a Fresh Look at the World's Most Popular Opera" will be the focus of a lecture at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, March 1, in Harper Hall in the Voxman Music Building on the University of Iowa campus. Guest stage director William Theisen will give the lecture, which is part of an ongoing UI Opera Studies Group lecture series. The event is free and open to the public.

Theisen, who has worked in theatre and opera, will direct his first production of "La Boheme" March 28 and 30 and April 1 at Hancher Auditorium in connection with the 100th anniversary of the University of Iowa School of Music. With this production, Theisen will create a theatrical experience that will be mostly true to the composer, but he will also realize a long-held vision to make the Giacomo Puccini masterpiece accessible to younger audiences and theatergoers who prefer the naturalistic style of musical theatre to the more melodramatic style of opera.

"I will also discuss how the success of 'La Boheme' has changed the world of opera as well as the musical theatre over the last 110 years and try to understand the evolution that made it possible for both 'La Boheme' and 'Rent' to be running on Broadway simultaneously more than a century after Puccini's original masterpiece premiered," Theisen says.

Originally from Milwaukee, Theisen made his professional theatre debut in "The Mikado" in 1981. Since then he has worked as a freelance performer and director for theatre and opera companies throughout the United States and Canada. He served as a guest director of opera at the UI where he staged a production of Mozart's "The Magic Flute." Other university work took place at Carnegie Mellon University, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, Portland State University, St. Ambrose University, Manhattan School of Music, Utah State University, Northwestern University and the University of Louisville. Theisen was the artistic director of the Capitol Center for the Performing Arts in upstate New York, and he serves as an arts and entertainment adjudicator for PBS.

The University of Iowa Opera Studies Group, part of UI International Programs, was established in 1999 as a forum to foster the study of opera and related genres from interdisciplinary perspectives. The group's purpose is to bring together scholars who have a special expertise or interest in opera to share their views on various issues associated with research and performance of operatic works. For more information, visit:

For more information on the series or special accommodations to attend any of the lectures, contact Roberta Marvin, Opera Studies Group co-director, at 319-335-4034 or

International Programs enables UI students, faculty, staff and the public to learn from and about the world. Its offices, degree programs and events provide life-changing opportunities on campus and abroad, heighten intellectual and cultural diversity, and give all University constituents access to vital international knowledge. For more information, visit or call 319-353-2700. International Programs is part of the Office of the Provost.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Joe Nugent, 319-335-2026,; Program: Katherine Eberle, 319-335-1675,; Writer: Erin Vaughn