"One of the most opulent and beautiful productionsIndiana University has ever seen." – GARY THOR WEDOW, conductor
Tyrannical Persian king Xerxes is used to getting what he wants—and now, he wants his brother’s girlfriend. But the king’s fiancée is not too excited about the idea. Further complicating matters, the girlfriend’s sister wants her sibling’s boyfriend. What’s a king to do?
Sibling and romantic rivalry provide plenty of entertaining complications in this comic nod to the green-eyed monster—Baroque style.
Featuring one of Handel’s best-known pieces, “Ombra mai fu,” the king’s sublime love aria to a magnificent tree, claimed to be the first piece of music broadcast on radio.
In Italian with English supertitles. This production is made possible in part by the Georgina Joshi Foundation.
Pianist Kevin Murphy is professor of music in collaborative piano and director of coaching and music administration for Indiana University Jacobs School of Music Opera Theater at the IU Jacobs School of Music. A leading figure in the world of classical vocal music, he has served as Jacobs faculty since 2011. He recently joined Professor Anne Epperson at the Jacobs School in creating a new collaborative piano program. In 2011, he was appointed director of the program for singers at Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute, and 2013-14 marked his first season as artistic consultant for the Tucson Desert Song Festival. Previously, he was director of music administration and casting advisor at the New York City Opera (2008-12) and director of musical studies at the Opéra National de Paris (2006-08). Murphy was the first pianist and vocal coach invited by Maestro James Levine to join the prestigious Lindemann Young Artist Program at the Metropolitan Opera, and from 1993 to 2006 Murphy was an assistant conductor at the Met. In addition to his on- and off-stage partnership with his wife, soprano Heidi Grant Murphy, Murphy has collaborated in concert and recital with numerous world-renowned artists. He is sought after and respected for his work as a private vocal coach and teacher and has guest taught at San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program, the International Vocal Arts Institute in Israel and Italy, Glimmerglass Opera, Tanglewood, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, and the Juilliard School. In addition to playing and teaching, Murphy has added conducting to his musical activities and is a frequent adjudicator for competitions, including the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, where he has also served as official accompanist on stage at the Met. A native of Syracuse, New York, Murphy earned a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance degree from Indiana University and a Master of Music in Piano Accompanying degree from the Curtis Institute of Music. He resides in Bloomington, Indiana, with his wife, Heidi, and their four children.
Michael Shell’s “visionary” and “masterful storytelling” (OperaNews) is steadily leading him to be one of the most sought-after directors in the United States. His “thoughtful and detailed score study” (OperaToday) is shown in character development and relationships onstage as well as the complete visual world he creates. Shell has directed productions for Atlanta Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Michigan Opera Theater, Opera Omaha, Opera San José, Opera Tampa, Opera North, Virginia Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Wexford Festival Opera, and Opera Theatre of St. Louis, and recently made his directorial debut at Houston Grand Opera. He made his international directing debut at the Wexford Festival Opera in 2010 with a production of Winners by American composer Richard Wargo and returned the next fall to direct Double Trouble – Trouble in Tahiti & The Telephone. He has written and directed three cabarets, including All About Love and The Glamorous Life – A group therapy session for Opera Singers, both for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Shell earned B.M. and M.M. degrees in Music/Vocal Performance from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. He was a Corbett Scholar at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music as well as studying acting and scene study on a school-awarded scholarship at H. B. Studios in New York City. He has been guest faculty at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Florida State University, and Webster University, St. Louis, teaching Opera Workshop and directing Undergraduate Opera Workshop performances. In addition, he has been guest director at the A. J. Fletcher Opera Institute, Oklahoma University, and was a frequent guest director at Indiana University. Shell joined the faculty of the Summer Opera Program at the Israeli Vocal Arts Institute in 2018. Last fall, he joined the faculty at the Jacobs School of Music, teaching classes in acting. Recent engagements include Silent Night for Arizona Opera and a new production of Candide for Des Moines Metro Opera.
A Bloomington-based designer and scenic artist, Mark Frederic Smith is also the director of scenic painting and properties for Jacobs School of Music Opera and Ballet Theater, where he has worked on over 100 productions during the past 22 years. Design work for Jacobs School projects includes 2016’s Florencia en el Amazonas, last season’s Don Giovanni and Ariadne auf Naxos, and this season’s upcoming production of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass. His design for Florencia en el Amazonas was featured in San Diego Opera’s 2017-18 season. In addition to work for Indianapolis Civic Theater, Butler Ballet, and Indianapolis Ballet’s company premiere production of TheFirebird, area theatergoers will recognize Mark’s designs for more than a dozen Cardinal Stage Company shows, including Les Miserables, A Streetcar Named Desire, MyFair Lady, Big River, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Smith earned a Master of Fine Art in Scenic Design from the Indiana University Department of Theatre and Drama and was a student of Jacobs professors emeriti C. David Higgins and Robert O’Hearn.
Dana Tzvetkov designs and constructs costumes for opera, ballet, and theater. Her work has recently been featured in Central City Opera’s Tosca (2016) and Carmen (2017), and the National Opera Association’s Hagar (2016). Her designs have appeared on Indiana University’s Musical Arts Center stage in Saudade, Carmen, and Peter Grimes. She has designed rentals for Ball State Opera Theater, Mississippi Opera, DePauw University, and Butler University. She worked alongside Linda Pisano for Opera San Antonio to build costumes for a cast including Patricia Racette and Michelle DeYoung. She has been commissioned to create concert gowns for DeYoung and Sylvia McNair. Tzvetkov served as the costume shop supervisor for IU Opera and Ballet Theater from 2013 until recently, when she was promoted to shop manager. She returned to Central City Opera in summer 2018 to coordinate its production of Il Trovatore.
Ken Phillips has been the lighting designer and supervisor for the IU Jacobs School of Music's Musical Arts Center since 2019. He earned an M.F.A. in Lighting Design from the University of Arizona and previously worked around the country as a freelance designer for musical theatre and opera. Samples of his work may be seen at KGPhillips.com.
Walter Huffis professor of choral conducting and faculty director of opera choruses at the IU Jacobs School of Music. He served as chorus master for the Atlanta Opera for more than two decades, leading the renowned ensemble in more than 125 productions, with critical acclaim in the United States and abroad. He earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the Oberlin Conservatory and a Master of Music degree from Peabody Conservatory (Johns Hopkins). He studied piano with Sarah Martin, Peter Takács, and Lillian Freundlich, and voice with Flore Wend. After serving as a fellow at Tanglewood Music Center, he received Tanglewood’s C. D. Jackson Master Award for Excellence. Huff served as coach with the Peabody Opera Theatre and Washington Opera, and has been musical director for The Atlanta Opera Studio, Georgia State University Opera, and Actor’s Express (Atlanta). He also has worked as chorus master with San Diego Opera. He served on the faculty at Georgia State University for four years as assistant professor, guest lecturer, and conductor for the Georgia State University Choral Society. He has served as chorus master for many IU Jacobs School of Music Opera and Ballet Theater productions, most recently, L’Étoile, It’s a Wonderful Life, Lucia di Lammermoor, West Side Story, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, Dialogues of the Carmelites, The Elixir of Love, Bernstein’s Mass, Le Nozze di Figaro, Parsifal, Suor Angelica, and La Traviata. For four years, Huff has served as choral instructor and conductor for the Jacobs School’s Sacred Music Intensive. He has conducted the Jacobs Summer Music series productions of Arthur Honegger’s King Davidand Stephen Paulus’s The Three Hermits. In 2019, he returned for a second year to Ravinia Festival’s Steans Music Institute and has been appointed chorus master for the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis 2020 season. Huff also maintains a busy vocal coaching studio in Atlanta. Huff and Jacobs faculty choral colleague Chris Albanese have been invited to be presenters at the ACDA National Virtual Convention, in March 2021.
Christian Claessens is lecturer in ballet at the IU Jacobs School of Music. He began his ballet training at the Conservatoire de la Monaie. In 1978, he came to New York on scholarship to the School of American Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre School. After graduating, he performed with the Kansas City Ballet and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. In 1984, he returned to Europe as a member of the Dutch National Ballet. As a soloist, Claessens toured internationally with Stars of the American Ballet, Stars of the New York City Ballet, Stars of the Hong Kong Ballet, and Kozlov and Friends. In 1991, he cofounded the Scarsdale Ballet Studio with Diana White. In 1999, he codirected the International Ballet Project with Valentina Kozlova and White, both of New York City Ballet. In 1998, he took over the directorship of the Purchase Youth Ballet. He was the director of La Leçon: Christian Claessens School of Ballet in Westchester, New York.