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Itís like ĎAmerican Idol,í with St. Peter as judge

Goodbye Simon Cowell. You're just not right for this competition. Hello, St. Peter.

Young people who regularly tune in to FOX's hit television show American Idol should "get a hoot" out of observing four operatic divas compete in heaven before St. Peter for a spot in the heavenly choir, says Edwin Penhorwood, a composer at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.

Too Many Sopranos

So you think Simon Cowell is tough? Four divas compete before St. Peter for a spot in the heavenly choir in the IU Opera Theater production of "Too Many Sopranos."

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Penhorwood is referring to his comic opera Too Many Sopranos, part of an IU Opera Theater double bill (along with Arlecchino by Ferruccio Busoni) opening Friday (Feb. 2). The opera offers a little something for everyone, he says, including those who are opera regulars and those who might be intimidated by the art form.

"For season ticket-holders and habitual opera-goers, there are a lot of inside jokes they'll catch on to. But this will also apply to people who know nothing about opera and people who have been involved in competition, whether that's for a position in a church choir or even a school musical," says Penhorwood, the musical director of the Graduate Opera Workshop at the IU Jacobs School.

Edwin Penhorwood

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In the opera, the four sopranos learn, much to their dismay, that only one of them will be allowed into the chorus. (There's not room for all of them because too many basses and tenors wound up in hell!)

"It's sort of like American Idol, with St. Peter as the master of ceremonies and Gabriel, who has the divine powers to accompany him," Penhorwood jokes. "It's a good entry level for young people and even people who think they can't stand opera."

The double bill of Too Many Sopranos and Arlecchino will be performed Friday and Saturday (Feb. 2 and 3) and Feb. 9 and 10.

To learn more about Edwin Penhorwood and the creation of the Too Many Sopranos, go to http://info.music.indiana.edu/web/page/normal/4770.html.

For more on the upcoming IU Opera Theater production, visit http://www.music.indiana.edu/publicity/opera/2006-2007season/internal/arlecchinosopranos.html.