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USI to host inaugural opera, Ruth, on campus

December 8, 2023

The University of Southern Indiana's College of Liberal Arts, in collaboration with USI’s Dr. Philip H. Hagemann Performing Arts Department, Hagemann Rosenthal, the Pegasus Opera Company (London), the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus and the USI Foundation, will present an inaugural USI opera, Ruth, on Friday and Saturday, January 26-27, at the USI Performance Center. Performances will begin at 7 p.m. Tickets are now sold out for both nights. 

Dr. Philip Hagemann composed and wrote the libretto for Ruth, a production based on the Biblical Old Testament Historical Book of Ruth. This acclaimed opera has been staged multiple times in New York and London. The narrative revolves around a Moabite woman who, pledging herself to the Israelite people through an oath to her mother-in-law Naomi, later becomes the great-grandmother of David through her marriage to Boaz of Bethlehem. 

“The beauty of the story’s construction, its use of dialogue and the sheer drama of its content, mark it as one of the classic short stories of world literature,” reads a review from the USCCB*. “Based on the recollection of an historical figure, a story is developed which grips its audience with profound insight into divine and human relationships.” 

This production will be semi-staged, with Maestro Roger Kalia and Alison Buchanan working closely in collaboration with the Hagemann Performing Arts Department. The orchestra will feature professional musicians from the Evansville Philharmonic, while the chorus will consist of 12 USI students and four members of the Evansville Philharmonic Chorus. The six principal soloists will wear costumes crafted by faculty and students from the USI Theatre Department. All other roles will be fulfilled by USI students and staff. 

All expenses of the opera are being underwritten by private gifts to the USI Foundation. 

"The inaugural on-campus opera, Ruth, is a testament to the collaborative spirit between USI and our community,” says David Bower, President of the USI Foundation and Vice President for Development. “We are excited our generous donors are making this exceptional performance possible on the USI Performance Center stage.”  

*United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

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