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Mill City Summer Opera plans ‘Rigoletto’; ‘Beyond the Rainbow’ at History Theatre

“Così Fan Tutte”
Photo by Dan Norman
The cast of “Così Fan Tutte” at the Mill City Museum’s Ruin Courtyard, front row from left: Sidney Outlaw, Karin Wolverton, Sarah Larsen, Javier Abreu. Back row from left: Andrew Wilkowske, Heather Johnson, and Brian Ingalsbe.

Is it too soon to think about summer and opera outdoors? Not with temperatures hovering around zero. It’s something to live for as snowplows bump and bang down our streets and people waddle past like penguins.

Mill City Summer Opera has announced that Verdi’s “Rigoletto” will be its mainstage production for July 2020. Regularly listed among the 10 most popular operas in the world, it’s a story of love, death and vengeance with glorious music.

Stage director Katherine M. Carter, whose work has been seen at Santa Fe Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Boston Lyric Opera and Canadian Opera Company, among others, will set the action in a contemporary celebrity fashion product launch. Her production will be faithful to the original text and music while addressing issues of consent and power.

Six performances will take place in MCSO’s new home, Paikka in St. Paul’s Vandalia Tower complex, the old King Koil mattress factory that also houses Film North and the Gremlin Theater. A 200-seat performance and event space, Paikka has both a roomy interior and an outdoor courtyard.


Conductor Emily Senturia (Opera Philadelphia, Boston Lyric Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Washington National Opera) will lead an orchestra of 12. The cast will include baritone Eric McKeever, soprano Amy Owens and Metropolitan Opera star Renée Tatum.

Earlier this year, MCSO tried something new: a performance of Pergolesi’s one-act opera buffa “La serva padrona.” It will return to Icehouse in July with two performances of Mozart’s “The Impresario.”

“Rigoletto” will open July 17 for six performances, closing July 23. “The Impresario” will follow on July 27 and 29. Tickets go on sale to the general public on Monday, May 11.

MCSO spent its first eight seasons in the Mill City Museum’s Ruin Courtyard. Mill City is a museum of the Minnesota Historical Society, which chose not to extend MCSO’s contract beyond 2019.

The picks

Ivey Award winner Jody Briskey as Judy Garland.
Photo by Rick Spaulding
Ivey Award winner Jody Briskey as Judy Garland.
Now at the History Theatre: “Beyond the Rainbow: Garland at Carnegie Hall.” Audiences are loving and critics are praising the reprise of a History Theatre classic, refreshed with a few new twists. Commissioned by the History Theatre, written by William Randall Beard, it explores Judy Garland’s music and memories through her 1961 Carnegie Hall concert. This year’s production features two “young Judys,” more of Garland’s greatest hits, and more choreography from some of her most famous movies. Ivey Award winner Jody Briskey returns as Garland. Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. FMI and tickets $30-60, $30 under 30, students up to 18 and children $15). Closes Dec. 22.

Now at the Minnesota History Center: “Our Home: Native Minnesota.” We live on Dakota homeland. In a new permanent exhibit that opened last Saturday (Dec. 7), the History Center spotlights the stories of Dakota, Ojibwe and people from other tribal nations who have been in the Minnesota region for thousands of years. The exhibit is told in first person to demonstrate that native people are connected to their past and are still here in Minnesota today. Admission to “Our Home” is included with regular History Center admission ($12-6; MNHS members free).

Madison McFerrin
Courtesy of the artist
Madison McFerrin has an amazing voice and knows how to use it.
Thursday at Icehouse: Madison McFerrin. She’s not billing herself as Bobby McFerrin’s daughter, but that’s who she is. And her grandfather was Robert McFerrin Sr., the first black man to sing with the Metropolitan Opera. It’s no surprise she has an amazing voice and knows how to use it – with or without instrumental backing. Pitchfork gave her a Rising Artist profile in 2018, proclaiming “Madison McFerrin is making a cappella cool again.” (Questlove calls it “soul-cappella.”) In her one-woman show, she loops harmonies live. She recently released a new project, ‘You + I.” 21+. 9 p.m. FMI and tickets ($15 advance, $18 door).

Tuesday at the Lagoon Cinema: Royal Opera House: “Don Pasquale.” The great Welsh baritone Bryn Terfel, who has graced the Schubert Club’s International Artist’s Series twice and left miles of goose bumps in his wake, leads the cast in this new production of Donizetti’s comic masterpiece, recorded live in 2019. 7 p.m. FMI, trailer and tickets ($15). 


Holiday picks: Bach’s “Brandenburgs” and a re-imagined “Nutcracker”

It’s not really holiday music, but the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra has turned Bach’s lively “Brandenburgs” into a holiday tradition. They’ll play the first five concertos, but in their own order, with Jody Vinikour on harpsichord for No. 5. 7:30 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday, Dec. 12) at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Apple Valley, 8 p.m. Friday at Wayzata Community Church in Wayzata, and 8 p.m. Saturday at the Ordway Concert Hall. FMI and tickets (start at $11 for adults, $5 for kids).

This weekend at Huss Center for the Performing Arts, “The Nutcracker” meets “Alice in Wonderland” in Ballet Co.Laboratory’s original ballet “Nutcracker in Wonderland.” It’s the music you love, with characters from both stories including Clara, the Cheshire Cat, Uncle Drosselmeyer, the White Rabbit, the Rat King and Queen and the Queen of Hearts. Two female dancers will perform the famous pas de deux. The production also includes collaborations with the Twin Cities Unicycle Club and Circus Juventas. Friday (Dec. 13) and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. The Huss Center is at St. Paul Academy and Summit School. FMI and tickets ($22-35).

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