Thursday, August 20, 2015

Learning more about how our brain processes our worlds: Indianapolis Opera adds information to production of "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat"

There are notable mad scenes in the operatic repertoire, but little focus on other types of brain dysfunction. A rare exception is on the cultural schedule this weekend.

Indianapolis Opera opens its 2015-16 season presenting GLMMR's production of "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat," Michael Nyman's adaptation (with two librettists) of neurologist Oliver Sacks' book of the same title. One story in particular, of a man suffering from visual agnosia, a condition in which someone can see but not recognize or interpret visual information, forms the basis of the opera.

Distortions of normal perception in loved ones occasion lots of heartbreak in families, and opera is rich in heartbreak. To help those who attend performances this weekend at the Schrott Center for the Arts at Butler University, the company has set up panel discussions two hours before each performance of the opera.

At 6 p.m. Friday, the panelists will be Dr. Brandy Mathews of Indiana University's School of Medicine, Linda Altmeyer of the Alzheimer's Association, and Tina McIntosh of Joy's House. an Indianapolis adult day service.

General director Kevin Patterson
At 5:30 p.m. Saturday, participants will be neurologists Mike Sermersheim and Cynthia McGarvey, Candace Preston of Joy's House, Dr. Tim Brimmer of Butler University, and Altmeyer.

Contributing to the final conversation in the series, "Understanding Brain-Based Diseases: A Catalyst for Community Discussion," will be four representatives with different specialties from Community Health Network: Zonda Stead, Todd  Wagoner, Dr. Syed Hasan, and Suzanne Clifford. The discussion begins at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

Admission is free to the discussions on the Schrott Center's mezzanine. Tickets to the opera performances can be obtained through the opera company's website.

In addition, IO general directdor Kevin Patterson will give a background presentation on Nyman's work an hour before each performance. A talk-back opportunity for audiences will follow all performances, with the performers participating.