April 14, 1998

Ira Siff to Perform as Legendary Diva Madame Vera Galupe-Borszkh at Middlebury College Center for the Arts

Parodying the tradition of the grand opera diva, Ira Siff will appear on Monday, April 27 at 8 p.m. in the Middlebury College Center for the Arts Concert Hall as the legendary Madame Vera Galupe-Borszkh, performing her "annual farewell recital." Accompanying Siff will be Maestro Folinari-Soave-Coglioni (Ross Barentyne) on piano.

In a review of Siff's performance, The Village Voice commented, "If you think opera is just a lot of screaming,'s time to learn that you were right all along. The beloved transvestite diva's "annual farewell recital" will confirm all your worst suspicions about the art of the coloratura, with her wigs piled as high and as wildly off kilter as her top notes. The other good news is that Madame Vera (in reality Mr. Ira Siff) does her burlesquing of opera knowingly and sympathetically, from deep inside the form. Musicologists, peasants, and real-life Met divas laugh at her together."

"Time" also offered an affectionate description of Madame Vera, "Wearing a colossal red fright wig and more lipstick than Lucille Ball, she commands the stage like Bette Midler on Benzedrine, casting her stratospheric soprano to the bleachers as it veers between ear-splitting fortissimos and never-ending pianissimos."

Siff is the artistic director of La Gran Scena Opera Company, with whom he usually performs. He launched the company in 1981 and, since then, they have performed extensively in theatres and cities around the world, from New York and Belfast to Rio de Janeiro. The Company has appeared at the Teatro Municipal in Caracas, the Munich Theater Festival, London's Bloomsbury Theatre, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and many other locations.

Siff's Middlebury performance is taking place in conjunction with a course titled Humor in Art currently being offered jointly by the College's history and history of art departments. Prices for tickets to Siff's performances often range from $15-$35. Tickets for his appearance at the Center for the Arts are free but are required. Tickets are available in advance at the Center for the Arts box office at 802-443-6433.