Madrigal Feaste returns to bring ancient Christmas traditions to life
11/04/2010

“Castles and feasting meet dinner theatre” is one way to describe a madrigal feaste. During the Middle Ages and continuing into the Renaissance, the Christmas season was a time of great celebration.

Modern day madrigal dinners transport the audience to a fabulous medieval or Renaissance ceremonial feast.

Fort Hays State University's Madrigal Feaste will be in the Memorial Union on Friday, Dec. 3, and Saturday, Dec. 4. Tickets went on sale starting Monday, Nov.1, in the FHSU Memorial Union Administrative Office, room 208.

“After Advent, a time of introspection and fasting, elaborate preparations were made for a truly festive event," said Bill Smriga, director of the Memorial Union. "It was a real celebration, with eating, drinking, dancing and even animals parading through the great halls of castles and manor houses."  

The event provided an opportunity to visit and exchange news. After prayers in chapel or at the table, trumpet fanfares signaled the service of specific courses and dishes within the feast. Guests danced, told stories and sang in enthusiastic outbursts of merrymaking.

Madrigal singing began as entertainment in Renaissance Italy. It quickly spread throughout Europe and reached the height of its popularity in Elizabethan England, where several collections of madrigals were printed in Queen Elizabeth's honor.

The fun continues today with the Madrigal Feaste produced by the Memorial Union and presented in partnership with the Fort Hays Singers, led by Choral Director Terry Crull, assistant professor of music.  Fort Hays State's effort began in 1964.

"Thanks to Dr. Crull’s leadership and creativity, we always make it into a pretty rollicking good time," Smriga said. "It's one of the most beloved and popular cultural traditions here."

In recent years, audience members have begun to get into the Madrigal Feaste spirit as it has become less formal. The dinner is a family-friendly event, and visitors are encouraged to "come in their best Elizabethan outfit."

For more information, call Smriga at 785-628-5307 or e-mail him at wsmriga@fhsu.edu, or call Crull at 785-628-4258 or email him at tacrull@fhsu.edu.



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