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UT’s Opera Theatre is set to perform Allen Shearer’s Middlemarch in Spring April 13–15 at the Bijou Theatre on Gay Street.

George Eliot’s literary work comes to life with powerful imagery and compelling music in this stirring yet often lighthearted opera. The opera is set in the spring in the town of Middlemarch, where passionate love and political upheaval are brewing. Dorothea Brooke, an idealistic woman who hopes to improve the world, naively marries the scholar Casaubon for his great mind and is devastated when he turns out to be cold, shallow, and not very bright. But in spring, anything can happen. Could Dorothea have a second chance at happiness with the dashing, eminently unsuitable Will Ladislaw? The odds are stacked against her.

Performance times are 8 p.m. Friday, April 13; 2:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, April 14; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 15.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors (60 and older), and $5 for youth (under 18) and students with any valid school ID. Tickets are available for purchase online, by phone at 865-684-1200, in advance at the Tennessee Theatre box office, or at the door the day of the show. All tickets are for general admission seating. Doors open an hour before the show begins. For more information, see the School of Music website.

The idea for the performance was born last year when Nancy Henry, Distinguished Professor in the Humanities and English professor, attended a conference on Eliot’s works and suggested that a production of the piece at UT would be a great idea. Cast members have been rehearsing since January under the direction of James Marvel, associate professor and director of opera.

“My direction has sought to underscore the deeper and darker themes inherent within the piece,” said Marvel. “If I were to have directed this piece in England, I might have chosen a more restrained style, but this treatment is intentionally more demonstrably emotive, specifically for an American audience.”

This recently composed opera premiered in San Francisco in 2015. The composer, Allen Shearer, and the librettist, Claudia Stevens, will attend UT’s production on Saturday evening. They will participate in a discussion and question-and-answer session beginning at 7 p.m., prior to the 8 p.m. performance.

“I am very pleased that the UT Opera Theatre program has chosen our work for their spring production. It is gratifying to have provided a vehicle for young operatic talent,” Shearer said.


Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,

Landin Fleres (865-974-8935,