OREANDA-NEWS Indiana University Opera Theater, at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, will present an unprecedented six new productions—including five operas and one musical—during its 2017-18 season, in tandem with three productions by IU Ballet Theater.

“Our new opera and ballet season will feature many firsts in a season filled with a variety of traditional and new productions,” said Timothy Stebbins, Ted Jones Executive Director of Production. “For the first time in the 69-year history of IU Opera Theater, each production will be newly built. We will present ‘L’?toile’ for the first time. And for the first time, IU Opera will present ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ our first co-commission and co-production with Houston Grand Opera and San Francisco Opera.”

The company’s new season will begin in September with Mozart’s masterpiece “Don Giovanni,” featuring Jacobs faculty conductor Arthur Fagen, director David Lefkowich and Jacobs set designer Mark Smith, who designed last fall’s “Florencia en el Amazonas.”

Alexis Emmanuel Chabrier’s French farce “L’?toile,” will make its IU Opera Theater debut in October with director Alain Gauthier and set designer Tim McMath.

Composer Jake Heggie—of “Dead Man Walking” fame—returns to the Musical Arts Center stage with his latest creation, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” based on the iconic film of the same name, in November. Audiences will be treated to the direction of Leonard Foglia and the set design of Robert Brill, both of whom filled these roles in the work’s recent Houston Grand Opera premiere.

Spring semester will commence with Richard Strauss’ comedic “Ariadne auf Naxos,” with Fagen again at the podium and returning guest director James Marvel.

Director of IU Opera Theater’s recent highly successful “Dead Man Walking,” Jose Maria Condemi will team with set designer Philip Witcomb, from this season’s “Rodelinda,” for Gaetano Donizetti’s tragic “Lucia di Lammermoor” in February.

Leonard Bernstein’s sizzling “West Side Story” will bring the season to a close in April. Michael Shell will direct, while Steven Kemp, from IU Opera’s “Dead Man Walking,” will design the sets.

IU Ballet Theater, directed by Ballet Department Chair Michael Vernon, will offer three engaging choreographic programs.

The fall ballet will include “Flower Festival in Genzano,” choreographed by August Bournonville and set to music by Edvard Helsted and Holger Simon Paulii, “Lascia la Spina, Cogli la Rosa,” with choreography by Jacobs’ own Sasha Janes and music by George Frideric Handel, “Sketches from Grace,” set by Janes to music by Leonard Cohen, and “Opus Jazz,” choreographed by Jerome Robbins to music by Robert Prince.

IU Ballet’s immensely popular production of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” will return in November and December with choreography by Vernon and lush set and costume designs by C. David Higgins.

George Balanchine’s choreography and L?o Delibes’ music will pair in “La Source” to begin the spring ballet. The program will also feature Martha Graham’s “Diversion of Angels,” with music by Norman Dello Joio, and “Sandpaper Ballet,” choreographed by Mark Morris to music by Leroy Anderson.

Subscriptions are now on sale at the Musical Arts Center box office, open from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday (812-855-7433).

Single tickets for all productions go on sale to the general public Aug. 21.

In addition to artistic teams led by IU Jacobs School of Music faculty and numerous renowned guest artists, IU Opera and Ballet Theater boasts a history of serving as a springboard for vocalists who go on to perform on the world’s most important opera stages. Last month, master’s student and IU Opera regular Richard Smagur won the Grand Finals of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the most prestigious vocal competition in the country, joining a list of over 30 previous Jacobs School winners—more than any other conservatory or school of music in the country.


All performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. unless noted otherwise, with an informational talk at 6:30 p.m. on the mezzanine level of the Musical Arts Center.


“Don Giovanni” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Sept. 15-16, 22-23

“L’?toile” by Alexis Emmanuel Chabrier
Oct. 13-14, 20-21

“It’s a Wonderful Life” by Jake Heggie
Nov. 10-11, 16-17

“Ariadne auf Naxos” by Richard Strauss
Feb. 2-3, 9-10

“Lucia di Lammermoor” by Gaetano Donizetti
Feb. 23-24, March 2-3


“Fall Ballet”
7:30 p.m. Sept. 29-30; 2 p.m. Sept. 30
“The Nutcracker” by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
7:30 p.m. Nov. 30, Dec. 1, 2; 2 p.m. Dec. 2, 3

“Spring Ballet”
7:30 p.m. March 23, 24; 2 p.m. March 24


“West Side Story” by Leonard Bernstein
7:30 p.m. April 6, 7, 13, 14; 2 p.m. April 8