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Last modified: Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Joshua Bell and Leonard Slatkin help open IU Jacobs School of Music 2008-09 season in September

August 28, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Indiana University Jacobs School of Music continues to nurture and present the world's greatest musicians. With four new IU Opera and Ballet Theater productions, in addition to the usual hundreds of other performances, the Jacobs School offers another ambitious season in 2008-09.

Joshua Bell and Leonard Slatkin

Joshua Bell (left) and Leonard Slatkin

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Two internationally distinguished Jacobs faculty talents join forces to kick off the orchestral season on Sept. 17 as Leonard Slatkin conducts the IU Philharmonic Orchestra and violinist Joshua Bell at 8 p.m. in the IU Auditorium. The program will include John Corigliano's Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (The Red Violin), which Bell will perform in his first concert as an IU faculty member.

It's rare that movies spawn concertos, but such is the case with The Red Violin Concerto, which premiered in September 2003, following Bell and Corigliano's collaboration on Francois Girard's 1998 movie The Red Violin. In anticipation of the concert and in partnership with the Ryder Film Series and the Buskirk-Chumley Theater, a free screening of the film will be offered Sunday, Sept. 14, at 7 p.m. at the Buskirk-Chumley in downtown Bloomington. A special guest is expected to welcome moviegoers and give background information on the film.

The Sept. 17 program will also include Beethoven's Overture to Egmont, Op. 84, and Hindemith's Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes by Carl Maria von Weber. Free reserved seating tickets will be available from both the IU Auditorium and Musical Arts Center (MAC) box offices, as well as through beginning Sept. 8.

Slatkin will return to the IU Philharmonic podium on Feb. 18.

La Traviata

A scene from the 2003 IU Opera Theater production of "La Traviata."

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IU Opera Theater will introduce its 60th anniversary season with the opening night performance, Sept. 26, of Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata. Impressively, this will be the 400th production for IU Opera. Fabulous sets and costumes from Professor C. David Higgins will be featured in this all-new manifestation, conceived and staged by returning guest director Tito Capobianco, with resident conductor David Effron.

"The production will be stunningly beautiful," Higgins said. "It is going to be very elegant and firmly rooted in the traditional operatic style, but rather than using costumes from the period, we have costumes that echo the silhouette of the period, with more of a haute couture look. There will be lots of reflective surfaces, and I can't tell you how many chandeliers."

Additional performances of La Traviata, one of the most popular works in all of opera and Verdi's favorite among his operas, are scheduled for Sept. 27, and Oct. 3 and 4.

Other fall productions include guest maestro Klauspeter Seibel and resident stage director Vincent Liotta collaborating on Otto Nicolai's The Merry Wives of Windsor, a brilliant comic romp faithful to William Shakespeare's story about the fictitious knight Sir John Falstaff.

Sergei Prokofiev's The Love for Three Oranges will round out IU Opera Theater's fall semester. A gloomy prince, a sorceress, a wicked prime minister and an even more wicked princess star in this fantastical farce with guests Robert Wood, conductor, and Nicholas Muni, stage director.

During its third season under the direction of acclaimed choreographer and pedagogue Michael Vernon, IU Ballet Theater will present its fall ballet, "Ballets of Our Time," Oct. 10-11. The innovative program will feature Sweet Fields, with choreography by dance icon Twyla Tharp and early American music from the Shape Note and Shaker traditions, in collaboration with the IU Choral Department. Vernon will premiere his new ballet Endless Night -- inspired by a William Blake poem -- with music by Philip Glass played by the Kuttner Quartet. The evening will close with the perfect example of George Balanchine's neo-classic choreography, The Four Temperaments, with music by Paul Hindemith, featuring pianist Susan Chou.

In December, Bloomington holiday tradition The Nutcracker will feature Vernon's all-new choreography, which debuted last year.

IU Opera Theater opens its spring season in February with another new production, Jules Massenet's Cendrillon, conducted by guest Ronald Zollman, debuting set and costume designs by C. David Higgins. Guest director Chuck Hudson will stage this production, based on the fairy tale Cinderella.

The last two productions of the 2008-2009 opera season, while presented in late February and early April, are in settings almost 2,000 years apart. Taking place in 48 B.C., George Frideric Handel's Giulio Cesare will be conducted by guest and IU alumnus Gary Thor Wedow and stage directed by Canadian guest Tom Diamond, making his IU Opera debut. Frank Loesser's The Most Happy Fella, set in 1927, has guest conductor Constantine Kitsopoulos and Jacobs stage director Vincent Liotta at the helm. Jacobs faculty member and internationally renowned baritone Timothy Noble will star in this closing production.

March brings this season's spring ballet, "Variations on a Russian Theme." A new and updated version of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake will feature staging by Vernon and Cynthia Gregory, the most celebrated American ballerina of her time, whose portrayal of the Swan Queen is still recognized as definitive. "Variations" will also include a world-premiere ballet by choreographer Matthew Neenan.

April 4 marks the return of IU's Singing Hoosiers for the popular music group's annual concert at the IU Auditorium, while the annual Big Band Extravaganza will swing the MAC on April 25 with IU jazzmen David N. Baker and Brent Wallarab.

Some of the many recitals to look forward to are IU Distinguished Professor Menahem Pressler and Friends (Oct. 2), Jacobs Dean Emeritus Charles Webb, piano, with Jacobs Professor Alexander Kerr, violin (Oct. 7) and the return of the Orion String Quartet (Nov. 3 and April 13).

Other highlights of the season include a host of classical, jazz, band and choral concerts by students, faculty and guests.

The breadth and number of performance opportunities at the IU Jacobs School of Music are unparalleled in college music study, with the school offering more than 1,100 performances a year, including seven fully staged operas on a stage comparable in size to that of the Metropolitan Opera House.

For a complete listing of the season's events, go to

For more information about IU Opera and Ballet Theater performances, visit

To learn more about the IU Jacobs School of Music, go to