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Bienen School stages ‘Don Giovanni’ for the social media age and spotlights a rare Handel opera

Tichio Vocal Master Classes continue with guest artists Patricia Racette and Dwayne Croft

Northwestern Opera presents Mozart's "Don Giovanni" March 1 to 4 at Cahn Auditorium.

EVANSTON - Winter and spring opera offerings at Northwestern University’s Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music explore a saint and a sinner with Northwestern Opera’s first fully-staged production of “Don Giovanni,” Mozart’s infamous seducer of women, followed by Handel’s “Theodora,” a rarely produced dramatic oratorio based on the life of a fourth century martyr.    

The Tichio Vocal Master Class series continues with recital performances by top students from the voice and opera program coached by soprano Patricia Racette and baritone Dwayne Croft.  

Mozart’s "Don Giovanni"

March 1 to 4
Cahn Auditorium
600 Emerson Street, Evanston

As the list of Don Giovanni’s romantic conquests – and revenge-seeking enemies – continues to grow, the rogue laughs off every accusation hurled his way. But will he be able to outrun his fate? Bienen Artist-in-Residence and Director of Opera Joachim Schamberger is renowned for his expertise in vocal and dramatic interpretation and has staged productions around the globe. Schamberger’s modern take on Mozart’s classic sets the tale in present-day New York and uses modern conventions such as social media as vehicles for the notorious libertine’s escapades. The production emphasizes Mozart’s themes of power, abuse and consent in this ever-relevant story by presenting it in the context of the #metoo movement.

“We are incredibly excited to present the very first full production of Mozart’s masterpiece at Northwestern,” Schamberger said.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for our students to work on one of the best operas ever written, during a time when its subject matter is so relevant to current events. Being able to combine entertainment with commentary on social issues through art and music is an invaluable experience for any aspiring young artist.”

Andrew Bisantz conducts the Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra in this production. As artistic director and conductor at Oregon’s Eugene Opera, he has conducted productions of “Don Giovanni,” “Le nozze di Figaro,” “Carmen,” “La bohème,” “The Pirates of Penzance,” “Nixon in China” and “Dead Man Walking.” He also has conducted for Glimmerglass Opera, Florida Grand Opera, the Rochester Philharmonic and the Buffalo Philharmonic.

Performance times are Thursday through Saturday, March 1 to 3, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 4, at 3 p.m. at Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson Street on the Evanston campus.

“Don Giovanni” will be performed in Italian with English supertitles. Tickets are $18 for the general public and $8 for students with a valid ID.

Patricia Racette Vocal Master Class

Tuesday, March 6, 7 p.m.
Galvin Recital Hall
70 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston

Patricia Racette is an acclaimed interpreter of Puccini who consistently receives high praise for her musicality and virtuosity. The Santa Fe Reporter raves that “her top notes soar with warmth and luminosity.” Racette has performed at opera houses worldwide, including the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, La Scala, Paris Opera, Theater an der Wien and the Bayerische Staatsoper. This season’s highlights include co-production and role debuts in “The Consul” with Long Beach Opera and Chicago Opera Theater, house and role debuts in “Street Scene” with Madrid’s Teatro Real and her directorial debut with Opera Theatre of St. Louis’s production of “La Traviata.” Tickets are $10 for the general public and $5 for students with a valid ID.

Dwayne Croft Vocal Master Class

Wednesday, May 2, 7 p.m.
Galvin Recital Hall
70 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston

The Classical Review praises baritone Dwayne Croft’s “booming, lustrous voice” and “exemplary clarity.” The 1996 winner of the Richard Tucker Foundation Award, Croft has established himself as a leading artist with the Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Dallas Opera, Washington National Opera, Finnish National Opera and Glimmerglass Festival, among others. At the Metropolitan Opera, he has appeared in more than 500 performances of 30 roles, including title roles in “Billy Budd,” “Pelléas et Mélisande,” “Don Giovanni” and “Il Barbiere di Siviglia.” This season at the Met, he appears as Sharpless in “Madama Butterfly,” Peter in “Hansel and Gretel,” Orest in “Elektra” and Capulet in “Roméo et Juliette.” Tickets are $10 for the general public and $5 for students with a valid ID. 

Handel’s “Theodora”

May 17 to 20
Ryan Opera Theater
70 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston

Composed in 1749, Handel’s “Theodora” did not meet with critical acclaim when it premiered, but present day audiences and scholars widely recognize the dramatic oratorio as a masterpiece. Thomas Morell’s libretto beautifully conveys a story of love, religious persecution and heroic resolve surrounding the fourth century martyr Theodora. Tickets will go on sale in mid-February.

Performance times are Thursday through Saturday, May 17 to 19, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 20, at 2 p.m. at the Ryan Opera Theater, 70 Arts Circle Drive on the Evanston campus.


The box office is located in the Pick-Staiger Concert Office, located at the south entrance of the hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive.

Tickets are available online at or by phone at 847-467-4000. For more information, call the Bienen School Ticket Office at 847-491-5441.

The Bienen School is a member of the Northwestern Arts Circle, which brings together film, humanities, literary arts, music, theater, dance and visual arts. Watch the Arts Circle winter preview on the Arts Circle website. 

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