Press release: Simpson Productions presents double-bill opera

Simpson Productions, the theatre, opera, and musical theatre collaboration at Simpson College, presents Trouble in Tahiti with music and libretto by Leonard Bernstein and Gallantry: A Soap Opera with music by Douglas Moore and libretto by Arnold Sundgaard. The double bill opera opens on Friday, Oct. 28.

The double bill opera is in Barnum Studio Theatre in the Blank Performing Arts Center at Simpson College in Indianola, IA on Oct. 28-29 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 30 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $20.00 for adults, $17.50 for seniors and non-Simpson students, $16.00 for group (10 or more) tickets, and free for Simpson students with IDs.

Conducted by Dr. Bernard McDonald and directed by Jennifer Ross Nostrala, with lead roles by Jillian Wells and Dylan McKinley in Trouble in Tahiti and Leah Wilson and Micah Zimmerman in Gallantry: A Soap Opera, the operas will captivate the audience.

“Produced in our intimate Barnum Studio Theatre, these shows will feel up close and personal!” Nostrala said.

Trouble in Tahiti is Leonard Bernstein’s brilliant examination of suburban life. The opera draws upon popular song styles to deliver an uncompromising critique of post-war American materialism. “This opera features a vocal jazz trio that functions as a “Greek” chorus and an entertaining and over-the-top song about a terrible movie! Meanwhile, acerbically argumentative music depicts a warring couple while lyrically beautiful moments underline the bittersweetness of their failed love,” said Dr. McDonald.

Beneath the couple’s marital discord is a profound longing for love and intimacy. Their spiritual emptiness, in contrast to a veneer of happy consumerism, creates the heart of the drama and is emphasized by sudden stylistic shifts in the music.

Gallantry: A Soap Opera is a farce centering on a television soap opera set in a hospital. A surgeon has fallen in love with the anesthetist, who in turn loves the patient on the operating table. Critical moments are, to be sure, interrupted by commercials.

“Gallantry flits between the ‘realities’ of its TV commercials for hand soap and floor polish with the fully sung, intensely dramatic medical soap opera of a lustful surgeon, his nurse, and her fiancé, the patient. It’s brilliantly clever and hilarious!” said Dr. McDonald.

Seating is limited in our intimate Barnum Studio Theatre, so be sure to reserve your tickets early.