The Fredonia School of Music presents the first annual Madrigal Feaste on Friday, Dec. 7, with scrumptious food, costumed performers, rousing music and merriment on a grand scale. The Madrigal Feaste is open to the public. Tickets are $65 per person.
A new holiday tradition at the SUNY Fredonia School of Music will be initiated with the first annual Madrigal Feaste dinner theater performance on Friday, Dec. 7, at the Williams Center. This traditional 15th century royal feast and musical program promises to be a feast for the senses, complete with authentic food, costumed performers, rousing music and merriment on a grand scale.
“We are excited about offering the Feaste this year, and we hope it will become a new Fredonia tradition,” said School of Music Director Karl Boelter. “This is no ordinary dinner. Full of pageantry, lots of sublimely performed music, entertaining personalities, and a large share of fun, the evening will be memorable and will put you in a great holiday mood.”
The feaste is truly a collaborative event, featuring faculty and staff from the School of Music and Department of Theatre and Dance. The Fredonia College Choir is the featured choral ensemble, under the direction of Dr. Gerald Gray, who had the vision to bring this historical dinner theater tradition to Fredonia.
Dr. Gray had the joy and privilege of performing in a Madrigal Feaste as a high school student, and he remembers it as a true highlight of the year. “There was something magical about the festive music, beautiful costumes, and grand banquet dinner… all coming together to create something unforgettable. This is what we would like to bring to Fredonia,” he said. “It is a magnificent way to begin the holiday season, and we hope the community will come out and join us for this unique and memorable event.”
Department of Theatre and Dance Professor James Ivey will lead a troupe of actors for the event, and will also be featured in the all-important role of Master of Revels.
“Gerald (Gray) approached me about collaborating on the Madrigal Feaste when I told him that I had directed such events in the early part of my academic career,” explained Dr. Ivey, who will assist with the dramatic portion of the evening. He teaches a class in the form of commedia dell’arte, early opera and their scenic designs, and five of his students from that class will extend their classroom experience into the Madrigal Feaste.
Dr. Ivey will play the Master of Revels, borrowing from his own bag of tricks as the Capitano character from commedia, which lends itself to the madrigal form quite well.
A special highlight of the evening will be Charles and Shirley Erbsmehl featured in the roles of King and Queen.
"It is a joy to have Chuck and Shirley Erbsmehl as our King and Queen,” said Dr. Boelter. “They are great citizens of Fredonia, and avid supporters of the School of Music. Whether helping us to meet our scholarship goals or playing in the New Horizons Band, these are two people who love to participate. We are honored that they will be our first ever official royalty!"
Mr. and Mrs. Erbsmehl will don period attire and join the rest of the performers at the royal banquet table on a central stage, while audience members dine and enjoy strolling singers and various chamber ensembles throughout the evening. Each course of the feast will be heralded with a traditional song, and audience participation is encouraged.
At the heart of this festive event is a traditional 15th century feast. The royal banquet menu, which includes an open bar that begins at 5:30 p.m. is followed by a seated dinner and musical program at 6 p.m.
The meal begins with Pate Terrine, Winter Sausage, Aged Cheese and Crusty Bread, followed by a fanfare heralding the traditional holiday Wassail beverage. A peasant-style soup made with russet potatoes and deep green kale will be served next. Entree choices include Beef and Stout Pie, featuring slow, beer-simmered beef accented with black currant jam, and slow-roasted Cornish Game Hens with fresh herbs, lemon and butter finished with natural jus. A vegetarian option is also available; the Vegetables Wellington Redux features fresh vegetables and rich goat cheese baked in a puff pastry wrapping and finished with tomato sauce.
The meal is accompanied by wine and beer service, traditional root vegetables and a wild rice blend. A dessert of festive Buche de Noel served with hot coffee and tea is served during the final concert of choral music, bringing the evening to a rousing close.
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