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Jacobs School of Music

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Last modified: Friday, August 28, 2009

IU Opera 2009-2010 series begins with 'L'Italiana in Algeri'

Renowned conductor, IU faculty member Arthur Fagen makes IU Opera Theater debut

WHAT: L'Italiana in Algeri by Gioachino Rossini
WHEN: Sept. 25, 26 and Oct. 2, 3 at 8 p.m.
WHERE: The Musical Arts Center, 101 N. Jordan Ave., just north of the intersection at Third St.
TICKETS: On sale to the general public on Sept. 8. Tickets for the Sept. 25 performance, which is general admission, are $25 ($12 for students). Tickets for all other performances are $15-$35 ($10-$20 for students). The Musical Arts Center box office hours are Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Get ticket information online at, or call the Musical Arts Center at 812-855-7433.

Aug. 28, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- IU Opera and Ballet Theater launches its full 2009-2010 season of six operas and three ballet productions with Rossini's L'Italiana in Algeri, which opens on Sept. 25.

The diverse season includes new productions of Mozart's Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) and Puccini's La Rondine (The Swallow), Bernstein's dynamic West Side Story, a tribute to the 100th anniversary of Sergei Diaghilev's Ballet Russes and much more.

A dramma giocoso ("jocular drama") set in 18th-century Algiers, L'Italiana tells the story of a restless Bey, his discarded wife, a beautiful Italian and her enslaved fiancé. The lovers must do much maneuvering to try to escape the ruler's designing clutches and attempt to sail back to their native Italy.

A scene from "L'Italiana in Algeri"

Print-Quality Photo

This lighthearted comedy will mark the IU Opera debut of renowned conductor Arthur Fagen, a recently appointed Jacobs professor. Jacobs Professor of Music Vincent Liotta will stage direct, with a set designed by Paul Shortt for the Opera Company of Philadelphia.

"This is one of the most successful comedies that Rossini wrote," said Fagen. "It has had lasting and deserved success over several centuries."

Fagen said Rossini's enduring comedy translates well to modern times. "The aspect of the societally repressed Muslim woman vs. the emancipated European woman is a theme which resonates to the present day -- as does the idea of a willful dictator of a banana republic," said Fagen. "We are using cadenzas and ornamentation in Isabella's second act Rondo based on those of Laure Cinti-Damoreau, one of the most celebrated singers of the early 19th-century, who had worked with Rossini. The manuscripts for these cadenzas are in the library of the Jacobs School of Music."

Fagen officially joined the Jacobs faculty in the fall of 2008. He is in demand as a conductor of orchestras and opera in Europe, Asia and the U.S. He is a former assistant conductor to Christoph von Dohnanyi at the Frankfurt Opera and James Levine at the Metropolitan Opera.

Since then, Fagen's opera conducting activities have been marked by a string of notable guest appointments, including the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera, Munich State Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Staatsoper Berlin and New York City Opera. He has an opera repertoire of more than 70 works. On the orchestral podium, he has appeared with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Czech Philharmonic, Munich Radio Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, Orchestra della RAI (Torino, Naples, Milano, Roma) and the Bergen Philharmonic, among many others. He was invited by Daniel Barenboim to conduct The Barber of Seville by Rossini at the Staatsoper in Berlin.

Fagen has recorded for BMG, Naxos, CRI, Bayerischer Rundfunk, SFB and WDR Cologne. Plans are in place for a complete recording of the Martinu piano concerti and the CD release of Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsodies with the Staatskapelle Weimar (both for Naxos). His Rossini CD, recorded for BMG with Juan Diego Flores and Vesselina Kasarova -- two of the world's best-known Rossini singers -- contains excerpts from L'Italiana in Algeri.

Fagen calls the IU Opera program "one of the best anywhere in the world."

At Jacobs, he has the opportunity to work with up-and-coming talent, something that hasn't been a big part of his career over the past decade or more. "We have some very, very talented singers," said Fagen. "I've spent a lot of time preparing for this and worked with the cast even during the summer. It's been a very stimulating experience for me."

L'Italiana in Algeri, with a libretto by Angelo Anelli, will be sung in Italian with English supertitles.

For more information about the Jacobs School of Music and IU Opera and Ballet Theater, see