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DePauw Opera Stages American Classic Little Women, March 3–6

February 29, 2016

For the penultimate event in the communitywide 2015–16 interdisciplinary festival, “Little Women: The Transformation of Art,” the DePauw University School of Music will bring the classic American work of fiction to musical life as an opera. Based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott, with score and libretto by Mark Adamo, this fully staged, double-cast production of Little Women will be presented in four performances, on March 3–5 at 7:30 p.m. and March 6 at 2 p.m., in the Green Center’s Moore Theatre.

Joachim Schamberger is producing and guest directing the DePauw production, conducted Orcenith Smith, director of university orchestras.

Since its premiere in 1998, Adamo’s adaptation has received over 70 separate productions, making it one of the most popular American operas ever written.  Following the 2003 New York City Opera premiere, John Rockwell of the New York Times declared Little Women a “masterpiece.”

Set in Concord, Massachusetts, a center of literary activity and ideas during the civil-war era, the opera relays the coming-of-age of the four March sisters. The story’s most vivid character, the outspoken Jo, sung by soprano Shannon Barry ’17 and mezzo-soprano Sarah Pistorius ’17, struggles against change in an effort to prevent her sisters and herself from growing up and growing apart.

Singing the role of the eldest daughter Meg, on alternate dates, will be mezzo-soprano Dana Hart ’16 and soprano Angel Riley ’17.  Sopranos Elizabeth Brunell ’18 and Addy Sterrett ’16 have been cast in the part of the introverted, but ultimately bravest of the four sisters, Beth. The role of the aspiring artist Amy, the youngest of the March’s daughters, will be portrayed by sopranos Kristin Daines ’16 and Julie Strauser ’16.

Tenors Blake Beckemeyer ’17 and Dallas Gray ’17 will share the part of the affluent neighbor boy, Laurie, who has always imagined himself a member of the March family -- and eventually wins one of the daughter’s hands in marriage. The lead baritone role of John Brooke, Laurie’s introspective tutor, will be sung by Yazid Pierce-Gray ’16 and Dylan Prentice ’17. (at left: : Composer Mark Adamo [center] with cast member Elizabeth Brunell, pianist Laura Brumbaugh, and sopranos Addy Sterrett and Hannah Gauthier)

Throughout the academic year, DePauw faculty and members of the Greencastle community have led discussions about Alcott’s novel and the history and culture of the Recontruction Era. From February 8–14, Adamo was also on campus as part of the Living Composers Festival, attending rehearsals, coaching each of the leading roles on their parts and offering extensive advice on the dramatic nature of the opera. This was a rare opportunity to work one-on-one with the composer and gain further insight into his work.

“Having Mark Adamo visit campus was such a fantastic opportunity,” said Hannah Gauthier ’17, who has been observing the five week rehearsal period closely as understudy for the role of Beth. “It’s different working on a show like this versus doing something by Mozart or Monteverdi because we can actually consult with the composer and have him working hands-on alongside of us.”

General admission to DePauw Opera performances is $7; tickets for seniors, youth and all students are free. For online purchases, visit www.music.depauw.edu. The venue’s box office will also be open beginning one hour prior to each performance.

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