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IU Opera Theater to present American classic ‘Little Women’

WHAT: Little Women, music and libretto by Mark Adamo
WHEN: Oct. 22, 23 and Oct. 29, 30 at 8 p.m.
WHERE: Musical Arts Center, 101 N. Jordan Avenue, IU Bloomington campus.
TICKETS: Purchase tickets at the Musical Arts Center box office Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. or phone 812-855-7433. To order tickets through Ticketmaster, phone 1-800-745-3000, or purchase online at http://www.ticketmaster.com/venue/41149/. An added discounted price, though the MAC Box Office, is available for all students who wish to attend.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oct. 15, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Jo, Beth, Meg and Amy March will take to the stage of Indiana University's Musical Arts Center Oct. 22 for the opening of an operatic production inspired by Louisa May Alcott's 1868 novel Little Women.

Little Women
"Little Women" cast members, from left to right above: Jane Rownd (Meg), Laura Thoreson (Jo) and left to right below: Catherine O'Rourke (Beth), Julie Wyma (Amy).
Print-Quality Photo

The second opera of the Jacobs School of Music's 2010-2011 Opera Theater season, Little Women is the first opera ever written by Mark Adamo, whose version of the beloved novel debuted at the Houston Grand Opera in 1998. It later aired in a PBS telecast of "Great Performances" in 2001 and met with acclaim from publications such as The New York Times, which in 2003 wrote "Mark Adamo's Little Women is some sort of masterpiece."

Conducting is Kevin Noe, artistic director and conductor of the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble. Stage direction is by Michael Ehrman, co-artistic director of the Opera Training Institute of Chicago, and set and costume design is by retired Jacobs Professor Robert O'Hearn. The opera is sung in English with English supertitles.

"Adamo's Little Women is the true marriage of expressive music and compelling drama that we crave in opera but so rarely find," Noe said. "Each scene, each moment has been shaped not only by a wonderful composer but by a fine dramaturge who understands how essential it is for the audience to have genuine sympathy for the characters in this classic story. It continues to be an honor each day to work on this wonderful opera with such an extraordinarily open, driven and engaged cast, director and production team."

"It's been a wonderful experience for me because so many people in the cast grew up with this book and love the story and feel close to it," said Ehrman, who is directing this work for the first time. "So there's a very familial, warm, happy feeling in rehearsals, and that translates into what is happening on stage, I think."

Set in Concord, Mass., in the year 1870, this poignant coming-of-age story chronicles the lives of four sisters in 19th-century England. When Jo, 21, returns home to her three sisters, the story unfolds as a flashback into a vivid examination of her life and reaction to change, exploring loyalty, innocence, sacrifice, family bonds and personal fulfillment.

Noe said that the opera is immediately engaging because Adamo has crafted a work that not only fits the subject matter but invites the audience to experience the closeness and unique love the four sisters and the March family share in a way that only music and art can do.

Adamo has said that he read Little Women as a child and loved the book. Using the book's concept of Jo vs. the passage of time, he brought together the classic, mass-culture and perennial aspects of the novel in a lively opera with depth. "Little Women itself solves certain problems for the opera composer," Adamo wrote. "I knew Jo's wild imagination, her haunting memories, would free me musically to range between abstract and tonal, poetic and vernacular, song and symphonic forms."

"Little women -- or big men, for that matter -- anyone of any age who values the richness and complexity of family will find this opera an endearing invitation to understand and celebrate their own," Noe said.

To learn more about the IU Opera Theater, visit http://music.indiana.edu/opera.