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‘Nabucco’ at Minnesota Opera; Festa Italiana at Harriet Island

ALSO: Nanci Griffith brings her “folkabilly” to the Dakota; ‘A Hole’ at Open Eye; and more.

Weekend Best Bets from Minnesota Monthly
Friday, September 21

That’s Amore

WHAT: Festa Italiana
WHERE: Harriet Island, St. Paul
WHEN: 3 to 10 p.m.

In only its second year, this cultural festival is a crowd-pleaser for the same reason that Buca’s does bang-up business: Italians, at least in the Moonstruck way we enjoy thinking of them, know how to party. Along with a display of classic Lamborghinis and Ferraris, red-sauce-and-meatballs food, and more strolling accordionists than you’ve seen outside a Sophia Loren movie, there’s some great music by Dan Newton and the Café Accordion Trio, Arne Fogel and the Wolverine Trio, and a Dean Martin impersonator. Learn more at

Friday, September 21

Red-hot Folk

WHAT: Red House Live presents Tracy Grammer
WHERE: Landmark Center, St. Paul
WHEN: 8 p.m.

Red House Records begins its second season of live shows by its fabled stable of artists with the guitarist and fiddler Tracy Grammer, a personal favorite of Joan Baez, touring behind her acclaimed new album, Little Blue Egg. The $15 show is preceded by a cocktail hour at 7 p.m. Learn more at

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Saturday, September 22

Taking to the Street

WHAT: Uniquinox: A Street Festival of the Imagination
WHERE: Third Avenue north, between Washington Avenue and Second Street, Minneapolis
WHEN: 1 to 4 p.m.

The Interact Center, which supports artists with disabilities, stages its second annual street festival near its headquarters in the North Loop. Food trucks, a performance by spoken-word guru Desdamona, and music by Venus DeMars, among others, are merely icing on the cake that is the pageant, a performance at 2 p.m. featuring 75 puppets, 10 tricked-out umbrellas, and, of course, the Interact artists. Learn more at

Saturday, September 22

Conquered by Music

WHAT: Nabucco
WHERE: Ordway Center, St. Paul
WHEN: 8 p.m.

Verdi’s biblical epic about King Nebuchadnezzar’s conquering of the Jews is exactly what most people think of — and want from — opera: big choruses, big set-pieces, big spectacle. This is opera turned up to 11, which is saying something. Learn more at

Sunday, September 23

Lost in Wonderland

WHAT: A Hole
WHERE: Open Eye Figure Theatre, Minneapolis
WHEN: 8 p.m.

Let’s assume that Michael Sommers, puppeteer extraordinaire, meant the title of his take on Alice in Wonderland in the literal sense — a rabbit hole — though that’s probably a mistake. Nothing in Sommers’ world is as it seems, which is the delight of this show, one that includes projections, a choir, shared delectable, and some moving about the premises (including outside). Note: there’s no late seating; Sommers asks that you arrive by 7:50 p.m. Learn more at

Sunday, September 23

Rebel Rouser

WHAT: Nanci Griffith
WHERE: Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant, Minneapolis
WHEN: 7 p.m.

Nanci Griffith calls her blend of country and folk “folkabilly.” But it’s in the lyrics that her real grit is revealed, particularly in this year’s Intersection, an album about anger, loss, and open wounds that includes an ode to the Occupy movement — “Hell No (I’m Not Alright)” — and five cover songs from Loretta Lynn, Blaze Foley, and other outspoken artists. Learn more at