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‘Cosi’ to be last opera in Mill City Museum’s Ruin Courtyard; Haunted Basement heading to Rosedale

Mill City Museum’s Ruins Courtyard
Photo by Dan Norman
Mezzo soprano Audrey Babcock, center on table, in a presentation of "Carmen" in the Mill City Museum’s Ruin Courtyard in 2017.

Mill City Summer Opera will be looking for another venue. The Minnesota Historical Society won’t be extending MCSO’s contract beyond this season, so this summer’s offering, Mozart’s “Cosi fan tutte,” will be your last chance to see an opera in the Mill City Museum’s dramatic Ruin Courtyard. Tickets are on sale now for that production, which will be directed by MCSO’s artistic director Crystal Manich and run for seven performances in July. Two reasons to go: the setting, and to see how Manich handles an opera with gorgeous music but a problematic story.

The James J. Hill Center will close to the public starting July 3 to figure out its future. A gift from the estate of James J. Hill, the historic building opened in 1921 as a free general-purpose reference library. When that became unrealistic in the 1970s, it switched to business reference services. More recently, the Hill has focused on small-business owners, startups and entrepreneurs. It has also been an event center, wedding venue and performance venue. The Hill has been home to the Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society and has hosted several concerts. It’s a beautiful space, one of a kind, just around the corner from the Ordway and facing the newly spiffed up Rice Park.

The Pioneer Press reported that “the center recently completed a historic structure report that gave board members pause. Without releasing actual numbers, [Executive Director Tamara Prato] called the projected cost of maintenance and repairs ‘significant for the building for the long term.’” All contracted rental events will be honored through 2019. So Schubert Club Mix fans can still plan to see David Grielshammer play there on Oct. 3.

The Haunted Basement has found another basement – in the Rosedale Shopping Center in Roseville. More precisely, “the southeast corner of the mall’s lower level, in the space formerly occupied by the now deceased Herbergers.” It will have more than 20,000 square feet of usable interactive space in which to scare the bejesus out of people. Rosedale approached the Haunted Basement with the idea. Construction and design work is currently in progress for this year’s creep-a-thon, which runs from the end of September through early November. Tickets will go on sale Aug. 1.


The Haunted Basement spent the first several years of its life at the Soap Factory. In 2017, it moved from there to a former General Mills research facility. Now it’s off to the ’burbs. Props to Rosedale for throwing down the welcome mat. For a time, the mall was known for its Sunday-morning dog-walking program, a winter venture that drew hundreds of people and pups. That ended permanently in early February.

HUGE Improv Theater will leave its current rented home at 3037 Lyndale Ave. S. and relocate to its own, purchased building at 2728 Lyndale Ave. S., now Art Materials. The closing is planned for September 2019, and HUGE anticipates moving in 2020. The theater has launched a $3.2 million capital campaign and hopes to meet a preliminary fundraising goal of $640,000 by September, which will allow it to secure an affordable loan.

A preliminary rendering of the HUGE Theater.
Shelter Architects
A preliminary rendering of the HUGE Theater.
The move will give HUGE the space it needs for performances, classes, and diversity and inclusion initiatives. It will bring another artist-owned property to the LynLake neighborhood, which recently lost Intermedia Arts and ComedySportz TC. And it will get HUGE out of renting from Julius DeRoma, owner of Club Jager, who has donated money to David Duke. From the HUGE website: “Our current landlord supports white supremacist causes, and that’s antithetical to our values. We are eager to cease our business relationship with him as quickly as feasibly possible.”

The picks

Tonight (Thursday, July 13) at 900 Hennepin: “It’s the People” Opening Celebration. A new public art project by Hennepin Theatre Trust honors the people whose experiences and stories make Hennepin Avenue what it is. Nine large-scale portraits by Minnesota artists have been made into banners that will hang on City Center, the Pantages, the Saloon, 900 Hennepin (the Hennepin Theatre Trust building) and FAIR School. All have themes: workforce, transportation, LGBT+, theatergoers, youth. Hear from the artists; grab a map; enjoy live music, performances, snacks, and an arts activity. 5-8 p.m.

Behind the scenes of "It's the People" with photographer Nancy Musinguzi.
Hennepin Theater Trust
Behind the scenes of "It's the People" with photographer Nancy Musinguzi.
Saturday at Bethune Park: Juneteenth. This all-day celebration of Freedom Day starts with a parade (10 a.m.) and continues with live music, dance, DJs, stories, poetry and youth activities. More than 50 vendors will include local food stands. Hosted by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and the Juneteenth Legacy Committee, this event takes place at the site of the first Freedom Day celebration in Minneapolis. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. FMI. Free.

Sunday on your teevee: Minnesota Original. TPT’s award-winning series returns post-pledge with new stories about Minnesota arts and artists. Profiled this week are the artistic partnership Free Black Dirt, which voices narratives often erased or ignored; Larsen Husby, who walked every street in Minneapolis; Ricardo Levins Morales, an artist with a message and a mission; and “1855,” a show created by two Faribault high schoolers that explores the history of their town. Next week’s program (Sunday, June 23) spotlights Bodega Ltd., aerospace engineer-turned-artist Mary Jo Hoffman, architect-turned-artist Daphne Lee, writer and designer Kate Arends and minimalist photographer Wing Ho. MNO airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on TPT 2.

Monday, Wednesday and Saturday (June 22) at the Film Society’s St. Anthony Main Theatre: National Theatre Live: “The Audience.” Each week for 60 years, Queen Elizabeth II has held private meetings called audiences with her prime ministers. Helen Mirren is Her Majesty in the Tony Award-winning production of Peter Morgan’s play. The original 2013 broadcast from London’s West End returns for National Theatre Live’s 10th birthday. FMI including trailer, times and tickets ($20-10).

Tuesday at the Ted Mann: Dominick Argento Memorial Concert. The beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, University of Minnesota professor emeritus and longtime Minneapolis resident died in late February. It was cold then, and wintery, and the streets and sidewalks were icy and everyone was in a bad mood. Now it’s warm and green and the air is full of lilac perfume, so you’ll want to leave work early for an afternoon of music by and reminiscences about Argento. Philip Brunelle, who curated this event, will lead the VocalEssence Ensemble Singers, the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra will play, Maria Jette, Vern Sutton and boy soprano Sam Nelson will sing, and others who knew and admired Argento will share their memories of this great man. 3 p.m. FMI. Free.

Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Sarah Nagle on 06/14/2019 - 08:35 pm.

    Bummer. The Mill City Museum courtyard is a fantastic space for a summer opera; I loved seeing the sky turn from sun to dusk to night and watch the pedestrians and bikers on the river path just beyond (their reactions were priceless). Here’s hoping that a suitable space can be found.

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