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University of Iowa News Release


April 10, 2008

Museum of Art and School of Music offer opera -- and meatballs? -- April 26

Opera and caviar? Certainly. Opera and shrimp cocktail? Why not? But opera and meatballs?

Though it may sound surprising today, attending opera was once a raucous affair. The UI Museum of Art (UIMA) and the UI School of Music have teamed up to revive some of the less formal operatic traditions from the past with their first joint fundraiser, "Opera & Meatballs," which will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 26, in the museum.

"During the height of opera's popularity in the 19th century, there was a much different atmosphere," UI School of Music opera coach Shari Rhoads said. "People would eat, drink and talk during the first few selections until the soprano came out to showcase her first aria."

The specially arranged evening pairs a robust Italian meal by Chef Mickey's Catering, with Verdi, Puccini, Richard Strauss and Mozart opera favorites performed by Rhoads' students, most of whom recently returned from an intensive spring-break opera production of "Don Giovanni" in Milan, Italy.

"This is a wonderful way for the museum to showcase the talent of these student performers -- and to treat the audience to an out-of-the-ordinary opera experience," said UIMA Director Howard Collinson. "In such an intimate setting, you can really experience the incredible power of the human voice."

In keeping with operatic tradition, Rhoads said the performers will create a relaxed atmosphere for the first portion of the program by singing several selections before the first course. After guests finish dining, it's on to the more formal musical "main course," which they will top off with a surprise, not-to-be-missed "dessert" performance.

"We're going have fun with it," Rhoads said. "This will be an unstuffy affair. We're bringing the origins of opera back to life."

The first joint fundraising venture between the UIMA and the School of Music, "Opera & Meatballs" is an extension of a longstanding relationship between the two organizations. Each semester, the museum hosts a series of "Music at the Museum" concerts, which give UI School of Music students and professors the chance to perform classical works together in the intimate setting for which they were originally written.

"This event is a unique collaboration between the School of Music and the Museum of Art," said Nick Pfeiffer, marketing officer for "Opera & Meatballs" sponsor Iowa State Bank & Trust. "It's a great opportunity for the community, and we like to support such opportunities when they arise."

Tickets for "Opera & Meatballs" are $100. Seating for the event is limited. To make a reservation, call 319-335-1725.

The UI Museum of Art is located on North Riverside Drive in Iowa City. The museum is open noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, and noon to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Admission is free. Public metered parking is available in UI parking lots west and north of the museum.

For more information on the UI Museum of Art visit

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to and click the link "Join or Leave ACR News," then follow the instructions.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Maggie Anderson, Museum of Art, 319-335-1731,; Peter Alexander, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0072 (office), 319-541-2846 (cell),; Writer: Maggie Anderson