Madrigal dinner offers Renaissance entertainment


Photo: Chenyan Shan/Iowa State Daily

James Rodde, professor of music and theatre, conducts the rehearsal for Iowa State’s Madrigal Dinner on Jan. 17.

Cj Eilers

On Jan. 18 and 19, the Great Hall of the Memorial Union will come alive with the sounds and festivities of the 48th Annual Madrigal Dinner. But before the show even begins, much preparation is in order.

The dinner, presented by the Iowa State Department of Music, features a variety of ensembles performing madrigal acts. The ensembles include Iowa State SingersThe Music MenOrchesis II dancers, and Music Antiqua, a campus ensemble that plays authentic early instruments.

Performers will be garbed in 16th century attire, including a king and queen, beggars, a court jester, squires, lords and ladies and the two criers. Costumes for the madrigal come from a variety of sources, some being older than others. Some costumes come from the theater department and others were tailored for the music department over the years.

Nick Prenger, senior in music, will be playing one of the two beggars, a role he has previously played.

“I go around begging for food and I always leave with a full stomach,” said Prenger. “There are two of us beggars and we fight over the food and money.”

A madrigal dinner is not complete without a Renaissance feast to go with it. Guests will be treated to roast sirloin of porkpease porridgewassail punch, salad with raspberry vinaigrette and other 16th century dishes. And if the dinner, costumes and singing were not enough, the students also put on two plays. Randy Compton, who helps organize the event, said the plays and music change over the years.

“It varies each year,” Compton said. “We do two plays, one which also requires audience participation. It’s not just you sitting down at a concert, you are part of it.”

Audience members are encouraged to come with their own madrigal costumes, and prizes will be handed out to the best- dressed. According to Prenger, the show will never get old and always draws a crowd, including regulars.

“It’s a lot fun, lots of food and lot of entertainment,”  Prenger said. “People come back years after their sons and daughters graduate, so we always have a crowd.”

Tickets for the Friday show will be cut off on Thursday at noon, but students may still have the opportunity to get tickets for the Saturday show. Tickets for students are available at the Music Hall for $5 and online for public at Midwest Tix and the Memorial Union.