Step back in time at this year’s Madrigal Dinner


(Photo: Submission/The Simpsonian)

by Clayton Bowers, Staff Reporter

INDIANOLA, Iowa — The biannual Renaissance-themed Christmas dinner at Simpson College will be happening Dec. 2-3.

The Madrigal Dinner has been around since 1962. Originally an annual event, the event was moved to every other year due to the excessive amount of preparation needed.

Robert Larsen has been the director of the event since its birth.

“It’s the enactment during the turn of the 16th Century when Christmas was celebrated in a very lavish way,” Larsen said. “It’s a two-and-a-half-hour concert of music and carols.”

Larsen and the 18 students performing at the event have been rehearsing since the beginning of the semester. Sophomore Rosa Gude is one of the few students who were able to snag a part of the production.

“Basically when you go to the Madrigal Dinner, it’s like stepping back in time to the Renaissance,” Gude said. “We do it exactly like it was back in that era, all the way down to the meal that would’ve been exactly what they would’ve eaten back in the day.”

The dinner is held in the Great Hall, allowing ample space and leeway for heavy decoration.

“The hall is regally decked out with greenery, flags and all things to fascinate,” Larsen said. “It’s very colorful and completely lit by hundreds of candles.”

With only 18 spots open for students, some would consider this event to be the most selective production on campus.

“They have to be very well-disciplined students that learn languages very easily,” Larsen said. “We sing songs in Italian, French, German and Spanish, so they have to be very multilingual.”

Eight of the 18 actors are new this year, requiring more thorough practice in rehearsal.

“We have all of our music memorized at this point,” Gude said. “Currently we are finalizing the script and making sure we know all of our lines.”

With Larsen being a music history teacher, it’s no secret that this event, combining history with hours of music, is the highlight of the year.

“I relish the Renaissance,” Larsen said. “The music is delightful and communicates very well, and it still very much appeals to the present day. We’ll be doing loads of carols, some of which everyone will recognize. In between singing, we will have instrumentalists playing interludes to add even more variety to the show.”

Tickets for the event are $50 and go on sale Thursday.

“Something students may not know is that the dress rehearsal is free to students,” Gude said.

Make sure to get your tickets early if you plan on attending. Previous years have sold out within the first couple weeks.

“I don’t think enough people know about the event, but every student should be aware because it’s a very special thing everyone should get to experience,” Larsen said. “Simply put, it’s an experience to never be forgotten.”