Month: May 2014

Sketches of Frank Ballard’s Queen of the Night



scan-2[/one_half][/row]By Bryanna, a student and Ballard Institute volunteer

The figure sketched here is the villainous Queen of the Night from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s famous opera, The Magic Flute. First debuted in 1791, the story was originally written as an opera in the form of a “singspiel,” meaning that the play was performed containing both periods of singing and periods of speaking.Frank Ballard of the University of Connecticut presented this opera using puppets in 1986. These sketches are based upon Ballard’s design of the Queen of the Night character. With her lavish hat and dress and exaggerated facial features, the puppet brilliantly reflects the baroque time period in which the opera was first written.

The design of this puppet was one of the things that stood out most to me upon choosing a puppet on display to interpret and sketch. The Queen of the Night’s dramatically angular face with half-lidded eyes that seemed to constantly say “I am unimpressed” gave the character a unique expressive nature. She seemed so very characteristically proud, posted there on her display pedestal so I knew she’d be fun to characterize into a drawing where I could give her the different facial and body expressions that she could not change as a puppet. The Queen puppet seemed an even more perfect fit when I realized she was from The Magic Flute play that had coincidentally been involved in my life several times before. My father and I saw the opera live at Jorgensen Theater when I was a little girl where my dad bought the soundtrack to the opera and played it over and over for me. Years later, I also found myself performing a piece from the play in my school orchestra. The Queen of the Night seemed like a perfect fit for me to sketch.


“Opera and Giant Puppets: Amy Trompetter’s Barber of Seville,” June 14-October 12, 2014

Our new exhibition, Opera and Giant Puppets: Amy Trompetter’s Barber of Seville, will open on June 14, 2014 at 4pm.  The opening celebration will include a free performance by Amy Trompetter’s Redwing Blackbird Theater at 5pm in the Ballard Institute Performance Space.

This spectacular display of giant, life-size, and miniature figures reveals the stunning potential of puppets and opera.  Puppeteer Amy Trompetter’s giant-puppet version of Rossini’s 19th-century comic opera The Barber of Seville was performed to great acclaim in New York City and Vienna from 1983 into the 21st century.  This exhibition reveals not only Trompetter’s vivid sculptural and performance style, but also her dynamic and unconventional approach to the classic opera, an interpretation that both supports and transgresses the original. Exhibition runs through October 12, 2014.

Experimental Animation Showcase, 5/29 at 6pm

Students from UConn Professor John O’Donnell’s Experimental Animation Art class will present their works at the Ballard Institute Performance Space on May 29 at 6:00pm.

Admission is free.

Featuring the works of

Casey Higgins

Desiree Fredericks

Erica Laucella

Nick Ransom






“Puppets Through the Lens: Photography by Richard Termine,” March 1-June 1, 2014

On exhibit March 1-June 1, 2014

This photographic exhibition features the revelatory work of Richard Termine, performing arts photographer for the New York Times, Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall and alumnus of UConn’s Puppet Arts Program.  In over 60 photographs taken over the past decade, Termine documents the amazing new energy of contemporary puppet performance, from giant spectacles on Broadway and in Las Vegas to avant-garde works of New York’s downtown scene, the set of Sesame Street, and exciting experiments from the Puppet Slam scene, the National Puppetry Conference, and other dynamic venues of the current puppet revival.