The Ordway may be one of the most perfectly sited performing arts centers ever. Facing St. Paul’s lovely trapezoidal Rice Park, it nods to Landmark Center on the left, the Central Library and James J. Hill Center on the right, and the grand old Saint Paul Hotel across the way.
On event nights, when the lights from the lobby and two-story foyer shine out through the glass curtain wall, it draws you in. You want to be one of the people you can see moving around indoors, greeting friends, having drinks, waiting for the show to start. That desire will double when the new Ordway Concert Hall opens March 1, less than a week from today.
Three arts organizations that call the Ordway home – the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, the Minnesota Opera and the Schubert Club – have just announced their 2015-16 seasons. The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra will announce its new season in mid-April.
The Ordway Center’s 30th anniversary season is an exciting, eclectic blend of fresh new Ordway creations, Broadway tours, world music, dance and song. On the heels of last year’s hit “A Christmas Story: The Musical,” the Ordway will present its new production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance” (Aug. 4-16), followed by Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music,” directed by Theater Latté Da’s Peter Rothstein (Dec. 10-Jan. 2, 2016). In February, James Rocco helms the Ordway production of “A Chorus Line” (Feb. 16-28, 2016). Next spring brings the Twin Cities premieres of two new Broadway tours, “A Night with Janis Joplin” (March 29-April 3, 2015) and “Bullets Over Broadway” (April 12-17). The Broadway Songbook series returns Oct. 9-11 with “The 70s Songbook” and June 10-12 with “The Songbook of Kander & Ebb.” (And who, you might ask, are Kander & Ebb? They wrote “Cabaret,” “Chicago” and, among other songs, “New York, New York.”)
The Ordway’s World Music & Dance season begins with contemporary dance ensemble Lula Washington Dance Theater (Oct. 30) and continues with Cambodian pop/psychedelic rock group Dengue Fever (Jan. 9, 2016). Afro-Brazilian dance-plus-martial-arts group DanceBrazil follows (Jan. 14), then Korean dance troupe SEOP (March 5), Hanggai (April 7) and TAIKOPROJECT (April 23). Hanggai, a Chinese crossover band, combines Asian folk/punk music with Mongolian throat singing, which sounds like something you don’t want to try at home. (This is the only Ordway show so far scheduled for the Concert Hall.) Two special events are also on the calendar: “Hip Hop Nutcracker” (Nov. 24-25) and the always astonishing American modern dance company Pilobolus (May 20-21). Subscription packages are on sale now. Single tickets go on sale June 8.
If you missed last year’s eye-popping “The Magic Flute” at the Minnesota Opera – the best-attended show in the Opera’s history – you’ll have a second chance to see it this fall. A production of Komische Oper Berlin and the British theater group 1927, presented in coproduction with LA Opera, it returns for six days in November. Before “Flute,” the season begins with Richard Strauss’s “Ariadne Auf Naxos,” conducted by Michael Christie, in September and October. After “Flute” comes Dvorák’s “Rusalka” in January 2016, with soprano Kelly Kaduce reprising the title role. “Tosca,” last seen here in 2006, returns for eight nights in March. May brings the world premiere of a Minnesota Opera production of “The Shining,” based on Stephen King’s novel, with music by Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Moravec and libretto by Mark Campbell (“Silent Night,” “The Manchurian Candidate”). Baritone Brian Mulligan (“Hamlet”) creates the role of Jack Torrance, with Kelly Kaduce as his wife, Wendy. Season tickets are on sale now. Single tickets go on sale in July.
The Schubert Club is splitting its flagship International Artist Series between the new Concert Hall and the larger-capacity Music Theater. The series begins Oct. 1 with cellist David Finckel, pianist Wu Han and Emerson Quartet violinist Philip Setzer. Over two nights in the Concert Hall (Oct. 1 and 2), the trio will perform six Beethoven piano trios. On Nov. 1 in the Music Theater, the celebrated violinist Joshua Bell will give his first recital at the Ordway since 2008. Young Russian-German pianist Igor Levit makes his Twin Cities recital debut in the Concert Hall on Feb. 16 and 17, 2016. The U.K.-based clarinetist Michael Collins and pianist Michael McHale will perform in the Concert Hall on March 18 and 19; the program includes a new work by Schubert Club composer-in-residence Abbie Betinis. The charismatic Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel, a Schubert Club favorite, returns to the Music Theater on April 20. Most programs are TBA, but moving some of the series to the Concert Hall means two chances to see those artists, and perhaps Finckel, Han and Setzer won’t be alone in presenting two different programs.
The Schubert Club also announced its 2015-16 Music in the Park series, held at the Saint Anthony Park United Church of Christ since its founding in 1979 by Julie Himmelstrup, who continues to serve as artistic director. On Sept. 27: the Borromeo String Quartet with guest violist Kim Kashkashian. On Oct. 25: Trio con Brio Copenhagen. On Nov. 22: the young wind quintet WindSync. On Feb. 7, 2016: Julie Albers, the SPCO’s new principal cellist, and pianist Orion Weiss. On March 13, the French string quartet Ebène makes its Minnesota debut. On April 17: quartet-lab, a string quartet formed in 2013 that includes violinist and SPCO artistic partner Patricia Kopatchinskaja. Subscriptions to both series are on sale now. Single tickets go on sale Aug. 3.
Tonight at the Edina Library: “Opera Viva! How an Opera Comes to Life (Part I).” Do you plan to see the Minnesota Opera’s “The Manchurian Candidate” when it opens at the Ordway in March? Get the inside scoop on its creation from the three people who know most about it: Pulitzer Prize winning composer Kevin Puts, librettist Mark Campbell and Minnesota Opera artistic director Dale Johnson, who will be joined by Minnesota Opera artists. This is a rare and special event – and it’s free. 6:30 p.m. Register here. Part II happens Tuesday, March 10, with production director Karen Quisenberry and Minnesota Opera artists. Register here.
Tonight at the movies: “Rembrandt from the National Gallery London & Rijksmuseum Amsterdam.” A large “Late Rembrandt” show spent October-January at the National Gallery before moving to the Rijksmuseum, where it opened Feb. 12. Watch both great museums prepare for the show, learn more about Rembrandt’s life and keep an eye out for our Rembrandt, “Lucretia,” now on loan to the Rijksmuseum. 7 p.m. FMI and tickets (you’ll enter your ZIP code to find the theater nearest you).
Wednesday at Hamline Midway Library in St. Paul: Linda LeGarde Grover. The award-winning Minnesota author discusses and signs her new novel, “The Road Back to Sweetgrass,” which follows three American Indian women from the 1970s to the present. LeGarde Grover is a member of the Bois Forte band of Ojibwe. 7 p.m. by the library’s working fireplace, with coffee, cider and cookies. Free and open to the public.
Wednesday at the O’Shaughnessy in St. Paul: Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn. Fleck (and, closer to home, Paul Metzger) opened our ears to the banjo. Fleck and his wife, Abigail Washburn, are touring behind their first duo release, a voice-and-banjo recording of old and new songs rooted in Appalachian traditions. Co-presented with the Dakota. 7:30 p.m., FMI and tickets ($29-$63).
Thursday at the Whiting Theatre in the U’s Rarig Center: Kevin Kling’s “The 7 Dwarfs” opens. Set in a “post-Snow White” era, Kling’s comic tale invites you to see life from the dwarves’ perspective. 7:30 p.m. Through March 8. This coming Saturday’s performance features a post-show conversation with Kling and director Michael Sommers. FMI and tickets ($11/$16).
Friday and Saturday at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis: Verdi’s Requiem. Roberto Abbado leads the Minnesota Orchestra, Minnesota Chorale and soloists in Verdi’s mighty, spine-tingling funeral mass. FMI and tickets ($34-$96).