Category Archives: Opera

Macbeth: Minnesota Opera

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Written by: Chrissi

It’s about that time of year when I doubt that we’ll ever see green again. Sigh.

I’ve been cooped up inside pining for an activity to interrupt my ongoing Project Runway marathon when along came the latest production of the Minnesota Opera season — Verdi’s interpretation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth! Hallelujah, a bit of beauty to get us through the winter.

1145 Minnesota Opera ChorusMinnesota Opera’s production of Macbeth opened this  past Saturday, January 25 and plays through Sunday, February 2 at the Ordway in St. Paul. It stars the incomparable duo of Brenda Harris as Lady Mabeth and Greer Grimsley as Macbeth. Harris and Grimsley offered powerful vocals throughout the performance with little time off stage. Not to be overlooked was the rich bass-baritone, Alfred Walker playing the role of Banquo. In addition to the powerhouse lead roles, the production featured a full orchestra and a massive chorus under the direction of Michael Christie. At varying points in the production it was almost as if you could feel the sound as it made it’s way off the stage.

The story of Macbeth translates well into an opera. My favorite fun note about this opera is that it was essentially written as a game of Shakespearean telephone. In other words, Verdi was relying on an interpreter translating the play from English to Italian when writing the opera. This resulted in the omission of varying elements of Shakespeare’s original work, though you still receive a complete story.

0501 WalkerMacbeth is a great addition to the 2013-2014 season and offers all of the production quality, innovation, and professionalism you’d expect from a MN Opera production.

Order your tickets online or give the box office a call and let me know how you liked it!

 

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Arabella: Minnesota Opera


1332 - Vargas, Wagner, Irvin, Futral

Written by: Chrissi

The second production of Minnesota Opera’s 2013-2014 season is the vibrant comedy, Arabella, by Richard Strauss. Reflective of  Strauss’ writing style, this production focused on the story and the music, as portrayed with the relative simplicity of the stage contrasted with the complexity of the plot and music. If it is any indication of the entertainment level of this opera, while watching it, I found myself reconsidering the relationship between opera and soap operas. The packed orchestra featuring 62 players was beautifully and artistically corralled by Music Director and Conductor, Michael Christie. While the orchestra was full, the set, designed by Tobias Hoheisel, was wonderfully simplistic and elegant. Arabella appeared in gorgeous gowns, plush furs, and show-stopping hats.

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Plenty of MN Opera favorites make up the talented cast. There is a great sample of Resident Artist talent within the cast, including a wonderful performance by Victoria Vargas as Adelaide, Arabella’s mother. The male and female leads were lovely and believable. Jacquelyn Wagner portrayed Arabella with grace and ease, complimenting the frantic and youthful Zdenka played by Elizabeth Futral. Opposite Arabella was Mandryka, played by Craig Irvin. Irvin’s warm, masculine baritone combined with Wagner’s full, feminine soprano resulted in emotional and convincing duets. Certainly not to be overlooked was the portrayal of Matteo by tenor, Brian Jagde.

I highly suggest catching up on the plot before you see the show. It has many marvelous twists, turns, and misunderstandings, but is a highly approachable, and entertaining opera. I would recommend this opera to both seasoned and new opera-fans.

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If you like beards, bears, and a TON of sexual tension, you will LOVE Arabella.

Order you tickets online OR call the friendly folks at the box office today!

Performance dates include:

November 9, 12, 14, 16, 17

Read a review by guest-blogger H.M.S Pen-afore here!

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Manon Lescaut: Minnesota Opera

Dust off your bow-ties and stilettos, the Minnesota Opera Season has officially begun!

Manon Lescaut

Written by: Chrissi

The 2013-2014 season kicked off this past Saturday, September 21st with Puccini’s Manon Lescaut. Minnesota Opera favorite, Kelly Kaduce, starred in the role of Manon. Dinyar Vania played opposite Kaduce in the role of The Chevalier des Grieux. The wealthy antagonist, Geronte de Ravoir was played by Andrew Wilkowske. Also, not to be missed, MN Opera Resident Artist Matthew Opitz played the role of Lescaut, Manon’s brother. As I have come to expect from the MN Opera, the talent of the cast was exceptional. Certainly, not to be overlooked was the massive chorus involved in this production, not to mention the talented orchestra that consistently supports the opera so well.

While I could speak at length to the talent of the musicians, it was the work of the artistic staff that took my breath away. The set, lighting, and costumes were gorgeous. Within the story, the multiple settings were  often starkly contrasting, whether it were the beautiful home of Geronte or the barren desert of  Louisiana. The set design maintained a common theme while beautifully expressing each location. A lovely touch was the subtle use of mirrors in Geronte’s home as a representation of Manon’s vanity. The use of projection was also a notable feature. Text was projected onto, essentially, a giant piece of parchment, allowing for the story to continue between set changes.   Visually, this production was beautiful and engaging, serving as a continuation of the story being told on stage.

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Manon Lescaut was a perfect way to begin the 2013-2014 season. It was a slap in the face reminder of my love for opera. Cheers to a great season to come!

Don’t miss Manon Lescaut!

Dates: September 24, 26, 28, 29

Location: Ordway Center for the Performing Arts

345 Washington Street

St. Paul, MN 55102

Order tickets now!

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Turandot: Minnesota Opera

Written by: Chrissi

You need to see Minnesota Opera’s production of Turandot. Go order your tickets right now and then come back to read this post.

It’s no secret that I hold a special place in my heart for the Minnesota Opera. The first opera I ever saw was their production of Carmen from the 2004-2005 season when I was visiting the area as a freshman in high school. Now that I am fortunate enough to live in the Twin Cities, I love being able to soak up all the great things this organization has to offer.

Turandot is everything great about opera. I was blown away by the beautiful costuming, scenery, lighting, and overall theatricality of this production. After the opening scene, a man sitting near us said something along the lines of, “Now THAT is the way to start an opera.” While I am not an advocate of fellow audience members speaking loud enough for me to hear, I couldn’t blame him for needing to say something at that point.

With beautiful singing, quality acting, and top-notch, everything, I have only positive things to say about Minnesota Opera’s Turandot. This was the perfect end of the 50th Anniversary Season. It is easy to see why this company has been such a success for these past 50 years and I look forward to many high-quality, innovative years to come.

Need something to hold you over? Check out Nessun Dorma performed by Adam Laurence Herskowitz.

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Performance Dates:
Tuesday, April 16, 7:30pm
Wednesday, April 17, 7:30pm
Thursday, April 18, 7:30pm
Friday, April 19, 7:30pm
Saturday, April 20, 7:30pm
Sunday, April 21, 2pm

Where: Ordway, 345 Washington Street, Saint Paul, MN 55102

Tickets: $20 – $200. Call the Minnesota Opera Ticket Office at 612.333.6669, Monday–Friday, 9am–6pm, or purchase online at mnopera.org.

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Coming up next:

The next few weeks of Twin Cities theatre are just lovely. In the depressing limbo between winter and spring, here are the shows that I’m planning to help carry me through!

Guthrie.OtherDesertCities_bannerNow- March 24

To be honest, I can’t believe I haven’t seen this yet. Karyn & I are planning to make it though. I’m looking forward to a good laugh and another gem in the Guthrie’s 50th Anniversary season. Other Desert Cities is playing now at the Guthrie. Get your tickets here.

Have you already seen it? Comment below or tweet to let us know how you liked it.

Follow us! @chrissijean & @karyneliza

 

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March 14- April 7

If you have heard the music from this show then it will be obvious as to why I am excited about this. The story is set in 1950’s Italy (sigh) and is a wonderful love story between the handsome, young Fabrizzio and an American tourist, Clara. This production is hosted at the Ordway and performed through Theatre Latte Da. Get your tickets, but watch out, you’ll be in the mood for love after this!

twelfth night & taming of the shrew

Now – April 6

Ah, Shakespeare at the Guthrie. I’ve never been disappointed and I don’t anticipate either of these being any different. The Taming of the Shrew & Twelfth Night are playing at the Guthrie, performed by Propeller.

turandot

April 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20

While I am VERY excited for this, I am also a little bummed that this will mark the end of MN Opera’s 50th Anniversary season. Having said that, I trust that this will be MARVELOUS. If you have not made it to the opera this season, or ever for that matter, trust that you will not want to miss this. Turandot will be performed by the Minnesota Opera at the Ordway starting April 13. Check out more information about Turandot or buy tickets here.

Art in Bloom April 25-28 MIA

This is not a performance, but it is an event I that lives on my calendar every year. For me, nothing says spring in the Twin Cities like Art in Bloom at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. If you’ve never been, let me give you some insight. Art in Bloom is a yearly event in which florists recreate or are inspired by pieces of art at the MIA. The best and most unbelievable part- it is free! Mark your calendars and plan a trip to the MIA in April. Want more info? Check out the Art in Bloom page on ArtsMIA.org.

Art in Bloom

My favorite sculpture and the arrangement it inspired.

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Hamlet: Minnesota Opera

MN Opera Hamlet

Karyn

Here we go – our first blog post! We chose an opera to begin “Pumps and Playbills” (go big or go home). A good opera has subtitles, a girl-gone-crazy from love and dramatic deaths. Minnesota Opera’s product of Thomas’ Hamlet had me picking my jaw off the floor and wishing for more.

The opera is sung in French with English captions. I don’t speak French (honestly, I don’t really like singing in French), but this cast makes you feel the music and understand the story without the captions. And any cast that makes your forget you are in a theater for almost three hours is good in my book. Brian Mulligan’s powerful baritone voice commands the stage as he sings the leading role of Hamlet. You feel the love, anger and revenge that Hamlet experiences through his voice.

Now, my favorite part of the show – love-struck girl gone crazy! Marie-Eve Munger sang the part of Ophelia effortlessly stealing the show from Hamlet. She hits every high note known to man as she slowly sinks into madness onstage.  SPOILER ALERT: After Ophelia dies, she appears back onstage suspended in a cloud!!! She sings in the air like it is a natural process. I had to pick my jaw off the floor! Bravo to Munger!

After Ophelia dies, I lost track of the number of deaths in the show. The deaths were disappointing because every person that walked on the stage had a beautiful voice. Rarely do you find a cast of this caliber. Wayne Tigges and Katharine Goelner give stunning performances as Claudis (the new King of Denmark) and Queen Gertrude. Although everyone dies in the end, it was a treat to spend 2 hours and 45 minutes with them and this fantastic show. To go or not to go that is the question….not really, go see this show!

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