The University of Iowa


Presented by
Performing Arts Production Unit
, and
UI School of Music
Adults $20
Youth & Non-UI Students $10
UI Students $5
Friday, April 26, 2024, 7:30 pm
Saturday, April 27, 2024, 7:30 pm

Co-produced by the University of Iowa School of Music, Performing Arts Production Unit, and Hancher Auditorium

Part of Hancher's 51st season

Music by William Menefield
Libretto by Sheila Williams
Directed by William Menefield

Fierce marks a major moment in our Hancher season. This new opera—making its Iowa premiere—reflects the collaborative spirit of Performing Arts at Iowa and will be co-produced by the School of Music, the Performing Arts Production Unit, and Hancher Auditorium.

The Cincinnati Opera commissioned composer, musician, and UI assistant professor of Jazz Studies William Menefield to write the music for an opera in collaboration with librettist Sheila Williams. The resulting work, Fierce, debuted at the Cincinnati Opera in July 2022 to packed houses and enthusiastic audiences.

An opera for the 21st Century, Fierce follows four teenage girls finding identity and purpose in the world as they write their college essays in a high school writers’ workshop. The young women face striking internal challenges—the difficulties of high school popularity and social media, the weight of parental expectations, personal loss, and unstable lives at home—but come together to find community, self-empowerment, and the confidence to embrace new chapters.

In a production led by Professor Menefield, Fierce will feature an ensemble of University of Iowa singers, musicians, and dancers with production support from the Performing Arts Production Unit and Hancher Auditorium. The Fierce creative team will engage our campus and community with several outreach events in the lead-up to the Iowa debut of this timely, remarkable work.

There will be a post-show reception in the Stanley Café following the performance.

Fierce Website

Preorder food from the Stanley Café!

Avoid the lines by making your food selections before you come to Hancher Auditorium. Cheese boards are only available through preorder and cannot be purchased on-site at the performance. Snacks and beverages will be available on-site.

Orders must be placed by noon the day before the performance.

Preorder food

Mark & Fran Lundy
Ryan & Amanda West
Stephen & Victoria West
West Music

Residency Events

Open to the Public
Wednesday, April 24, 2024, 3:30 pm


Some sites may require subscription
Performing Arts at Iowa - Thursday, April 18, 2024
The Iowa premiere of Fierce marks a major moment in Hancher’s current season. Students from the School of Music, the Department of Dance and Department of Theatre Arts are coming together to produce this empowering new opera that celebrates young women. Fierce is a 21st-century opera that follows four teenage girls—Vesta, Nyomi, Morgan, and Rumer—on their journey toward identity and purpose as they write their college essays in a high school writers’ workshop. The young women face an array of concerns including popularity, social media, parental expectations, self-determination, and personal loss. But these girls are fierce! They are determined, tenacious, and strong. Together they find community, self-empowerment, and the confidence to embrace the next chapter of their life. “I love the story,” says Meenakshi Chinmai, a second-year Theatre Arts MFA candidate in stage management and international student from India who is the assistant stage manager for Fierce. “It’s great to work so closely with four young women who are close to my age, on a story that is so relatable and fun.”
William Menefield headshot
University of Iowa - Tuesday, April 16, 2024
Growing up as a child of musicians, William Menefield was exposed to a wide range of music, from Beethoven and Mozart to John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald, and Stevie Wonder. He started formal music training at 5, wrote his first song at 8, became a professional jazz pianist at 12, and released his first album just after high school graduation.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Paris Young in advance at (319) 467-4849 or at