The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



College to host Renaissance-themed Madrigal Dinners

Caitlin Housley | Friday, December 4, 2009

Renaissance music, jugglers and a boar’s head — all of these point to only one thing: It’s Madrigal Dinners time again at Saint Mary’s College.

Madrigal Dinners have been a longstanding tradition for Saint Mary’s students and staff. This is the 37th year of the event, and it will occur on campus tonight, Saturday and Sunday. 

The event is similar to a dinner theatre production. It includes “an evening full of Christmas music, some acting and great food set during the Renaissance period,” Chris Sallak, patron services and marketing manager of Saint Mary’s, said.

The event, Sallak said, consists of sacred and secular Renaissance music performed by the women’s and collegiate choir of Saint Mary’s under the direction of music professor, Dr. Nancy Menk.

Students from the Saint Mary’s theatre department will also be performing, and the Andrews University Early Music Ensemble will provide the instrumental accompaniment. 

The event also consists of jugglers, a master of ceremonies played by Saint Mary’s Communication Studies professor Dr. Michael Kramer and Renaissance-themed food, Richard Baxter, director of special events at Saint Mary’s said.

Included on the menu, he said, are traditional dishes like seasoned prime rib, Waldorf salad, wassail, cheesecake and Cornish game hen. 

Audience members are encouraged to simply enjoy the show and the food, but they may be called upon to participate in some juggling demonstrations, Baxter said.

The dinners, he said, take place on Saint Mary’s campus in Regina North Lounge.

“It’s hard to believe that the Regina North Lounge can be transformed into a medieval hall, but it magically becomes another place and time,” Baxter said.

He also notes that the event is appropriate for this time of year.

“The music, the lighting, the scenery, the costumes, the meal and the manner in which it is served all combine to prepare us for advent,” he said. 

Students are also excited about the event. Angela Wilson, a Saint Mary’s sophomore, will be performing in her second year of Madrigal Dinners. She, along with other performers, will be wearing the traditional Renaissance attire.

“I love wearing the costumes of period dresses and headpieces because all of the little kids in the audience get a kick out of it,” she said. “It is almost like a parade for them.”

She also said this event will be unlike traditional choir concerts.

“It is a very intimate experience and there are very few times in my singing career that I have been able to sing in such close proximity to the people that I am singing to,” she said, “It is a very different environment than a traditional choir concert.”

All shows are sold out, and according to Sallak, an estimated 540 people will attend the event.