September 16, 2005

Exhibit to feature Marjorie Lawrence gowns

by Paula Davenport

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The stage personas of one of the 19th Century's best sopranos will spring to life in a coming exhibition of her elegant opera gowns. The University Museum — at Southern Illinois University Carbondale — opens the event Sunday, Sept. 25.

It spotlights a dozen gowns worn by the late Marjorie Lawrence and will feature a full-size stage scene created by set builders in the SIUC theater department. Admission is free.

A free reception celebrating "A Diva Triumphs: Marjorie Lawrence" will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30, at the museum. The exhibit will remain on view through Oct. 30.

"Australian born dramatic soprano, Marjorie Lawrence, studied in Paris and starred at the Paris Opera until 1935 when she debuted at New York's Metropolitan Opera. In 1941 she was struck with polio but her career thrived, and she toured widely and with great success," notes an SIUC Web site "Guide to Theater Resources in the Manuscript Collections" of Morris Library.

"From 1960-1973, Lawrence served as professor of voice at SIUC where she established the Marjorie Lawrence Opera Theatre," the site adds.

Salomé, Aida, Carmen, Tosca and all three Brünnhildes are just a few of the characters she brought to life during her career.

Aurora Struck is the exhibit's guest curator.

The museum, in Faner Hall, is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 1-4 p.m. Saturday through Monday.

Providing cultural outreach is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence through Commitment, the long-range plan the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.