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Redrum! Minnesota Opera to bring back ‘The Shining’; Theatre Pro Rata stages play in planetarium

Brian Mulligan, center, played Jack Torrance in the original production of "The Shining."
Shining Production Photography/Ken Howard for Minnesota Opera, 2016
Brian Mulligan, center, played Jack Torrance in the original production of "The Shining."

When you make a new opera, no small thing, you hope it will live on beyond its original production. “The Shining” – music by Paul Moravec, libretto by Mark Campbell, based on the novel by Stephen King – premiered here in 2016, a product of Minnesota Opera’s New Works Initiative. It was a sensation, selling out and earning rave reviews.

In 2020, “The Shining” will be presented by the Lyric Opera of Kansas City and Opera Colorado. And it’s coming home as part of Minnesota Opera’s 2020-21 season, announced yesterday afternoon.

But don’t get too impatient. MNOP is making us wait until May 2021 to see it again. And it won’t be the same. Much of the cast will change, including the leads.

Baritone and former Minnesota Opera resident artist Thomas Glass, a grand prize winner of the 2019 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, will step into the role of Jack Torrance. British lyric soprano Nadine Benjamin will make her U.S. debut as Wendy Torrance. And Grammy-nominated bass-baritone Aubrey Allicock will sing Dick Halloran.

It will still be scary. “The Shining” isn’t the only horror opera, but it may be the only one that makes you want to shout “Wait! Don’t go in there!”

The season will begin in September with a revived production of Mozart’s comedy “The Abduction from the Seraglio,” last seen here in 2008 and set aboard the Art Deco railcars of the Orient Express. October will bring MNOP’s first-ever presentation of Tchaikovsky’s epic romance “Eugene Onegin,” set in the palatial estates and grand ballrooms of 19th-century Russia.

February will feature the Minnesota Opera debut of the new opera “Blue,” with music by Jeanine Tesori and libretto by Tazewell Thompson.

Tesori has written five Broadway musicals, including “Fun Home,” for which she won the 2015 Tony for Best Original Score. It toured to the Orpheum in 2018. Her other Tony-nominated scores include “Caroline, or Change,” which was a hit for the Guthrie in 2009 and put Greta Oglesby in the spotlight.

“Blue” is very new; it premiered in 2019 at the Glimmerglass Festival. Its story is sadly timely: the killing of a young unarmed black man by a police officer, and how this tragedy affects his family and community. Thompson will stage direct here, as he did at Glimmerglass.

In March, the opera will premiere its own new production of Rossini’s “Cinderella.” The two leads will be double cast, with Hongni Wu and Taylor Raven alternating as Angelina, Jack Swanson and Carlos Enrique Santelli as Don Ramiro.

Then – at last! – “The Shining,” which opens May 15 for six performances.

All productions will take place at the Ordway Music Theater. Season ticket packages are available now. Individual tickets go on sale in July.

11th Italian Film Festival to open

The Italian Cultural Center of Minneapolis/St. Paul and MSP Film Society have partnered once more on a festival of Italian comedies, dramas and documentaries. From tomorrow (Thursday, Feb. 20) through Sunday (Feb. 23), nine Italian films never before seen in Minnesota will screen at the St. Anthony Main Theatre.

One is an early taste of this year’s Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival, which will start April 9. This is the 100th year of Federico Fellini’s birth, and MSPIFF will honor the master director by presenting four of his films. You won’t have to wait to see “Lo sceicco bianco” (The White Sheik, 1952), Fellini’s debut as a solo director and his first collaboration with composer Nino Rota. You can see it this Sunday afternoon.

The opening night film is Phaim Bhuiyan’s debut feature, “Bangla,” a romantic comedy about the challenges of love caught between different beliefs. Bhuiyan directs and stars in a story based on his own life as a young Italian man in Rome of Bangladeshi origin and Muslim faith. He’ll be a special guest at the opening night party, stay around for a post-screening Q&A and give a master class on Saturday.

Bangla
Fandango
Carlotta Antonelli and Phaim Bhuiyan in "Bangla."
Other festival highlights include Leonardo D’Agostini’s comedy/drama debut “Il Campione” (The Champion), about a rich, spoiled rising soccer star; Agostino Ferrente’s documentary “Selfie,” about the lives of teenagers in a gang-ravaged neighborhood in Naples; Simone Godano’s “Croce e Delizia” (An Almost Ordinary Summer), a love story with gorgeous Mediterranean scenery; and Stefano Mordini’s thriller “Il Testimone Invisibile” (The Invisible Witness).

All films are shown with English subtitles, not dubbed. FMI including trailers, times and tickets.

The picks

Thursday at Mia: Third Thursday: Afrofuturism. An evening of art-making, poetry, music, dance, yoga, and a panel discussion, all celebrating blackness across space and time. Check out the tour of “Vision 2020 Contemporary Photographic Portraits,” featuring three groundbreaking photographers from Africa. 6-9 p.m. FMI. Free.

Friday and Saturday at Augsburg University: Reinaldo Moya and Caitlin Vincent: “Tienda.” First presented in May 2019, when Moya was composer-in-residence for the Schubert Club, “Tienda” is a chamber opera that tells the story of Luis Garzón, a Mexican musician who immigrated to Minneapolis in 1886 and opened a small Mexican grocery store (tienda) in St. Paul in the 1920s. It became a community hub for the newest arrivals from Mexico. With music by Moya and words by Vincent, “Tienda” explores the immigrant experience. As in 2019, it will be presented in a partially staged version. Performers are a cast of five singers, the Augsburg Choir and the Augsburg Orchestra. 7 p.m. both nights at Hoversten Chapel in the Foss Center. Tickets are required and include two options: free balcony seating or $20 “immersive theater seating,” which includes samples of Mexican food and beverage.

Anna Clyne
Photo by Jennifer Taylor
Anna Clyne
Friday and Saturday at Orchestra Hall: Grieg and Rachmaninoff. Making his debut with the Minnesota Orchestra, Norwegian conductor Eivind Gullberg Jensen will lead a program that includes music by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg and features Norwegian trumpeter Tine Thing Helseth. It will also include works by Tomasi (Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra) and Rachmaninoff’s soaring Symphony No. 2. New music fans, pay special attention to the opening piece: Anna Clyne’s “The Midnight Hour.” London-born Clyne is an alum of the 2006 Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute, where Osmo Vänskä conducted one of her works at the first-ever Future Classics concert. 8 p.m. FMI and tickets ($12-125). Concert preview with Phillip Gainsley, Jensen and Helseth at 7.

Opens Saturday at the Bell Museum: Lauren Gunderson’s “Silent Sky.” Add this to the list of must-see site-specific productions: a play about an astronomical researcher, staged in a planetarium. The Bell Museum teamed up with Theatre Pro Rata to produce Lauren Gunderson’s “Silent Sky” in its new Whitney and Elizabeth MacMillan Planetarium. Gunderson is the most-produced playwright in America; she often writes about women in history, science and literature. Her topic this time is Henrietta Leavitt, one of the women “computers” who worked at Harvard College Observatory in the early 1900s. Brilliant. 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($30-$12). Closes March 8.

Monday at Minneapolis Central Library: Talk of the Stacks: Erika Lee. Current hostilities over national borders are nothing new; they trace back to pre-Revolutionary days. In conversation with journalist Tom Weber, Lee, an award-winning immigration historian and U of M regents professor, will talk about her latest book, “America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States,” a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award. Doors at 6:15 p.m., program at 7. Free and open to the public. Overflow space with live feed will be available. Book sales and signing will follow. FMI.

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