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February 2009

Putting on a ‘Picnic’

Enjoy a spring “Picnic” … without the ants.

UNCG Opera Theatre has commissioned well-known composer Libby Larsen to translate William Inge's 1953 Pulitzer Prize-winning play into a modern jazz opera. Take in the world premiere of Libby Larsen's “Picnic” April 2-5 in Aycock Auditorium.

And if you'd like to have a picnic before “Picnic,” buy your tickets for the Sunday, April 5, show. Then, from noon to 1:30 p.m., join us for an Alumni Picnic in Foust Park. Bring your own picnic and date — we'll provide the live jazz, tables, chairs and tent. Prizes will be awarded to the most elegant and creative picnics.

The “Picnic” opera is a UNCG affair on several levels. David Holley, director of the opera theatre, wrote the libretto, or text, and directs the opera. Students and alumni from the School of Music make up the cast.

Holley secured a $150,000 gift from the late philanthropist Charles A. Babcock in 2004 as part of the Students First Campaign. Holley knew he wanted to commission a new American opera for the School of Music. And he knew he wanted Larsen, a big name in opera, to compose it.

In selecting the base text for their opera, Larsen and Holley weighed both “Picnic” and Jane Austen's “Pride and Prejudice.” Holley was unfamiliar with “Picnic,” which revolves around a bad-boy drifter named Hal, who shakes things up in a small Midwestern town when he gets involved with the female lead, Madge.

Then Holley saw a production of “Picnic” at Greensboro College and was blown away by the possibilities for transforming it into an opera. “We've got to do this,” he thought.

Show times are: Thursday and Friday, April 2 and 3, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, April 5, 2 p.m. Cost is $15 adults; $12 children under 12, non-UNCG students, senior citizens; $9 UNCG alumni.

Contact University Box Office at (336) 334-4849 for tickets.



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