55 years of Minnesota Opera: a gala celebrationReview
To kick off their 55th Anniversary season, Minnesota Opera hosted a free concert of highlights from their upcoming season at The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. Artistic director Dale Johnson was the MC for the event. The program started off with a homage to Dominick Argento, who was in the audience celebrating his 90th birthday, with performances of one of his song cycles Miss Manners on Music (a satire of the newspaper column title “Miss Manners”). Mr. Argento’s presence was even more poignant at this event given that he was the co-founder of the Center City Opera (that later merged with The Opera Company of St. Paul to become Minnesota Opera). The surprising highlight of the afternoon was the world premiere of Jack Torrance’s aria for Paul Moravec’s* The Shining*.
Minnesota Opera also featured their Project Opera. participants in a chorus from the children’s opera Odyssey by Ben Moore. A unique initiative by the company, goes by the philosophy of “opera for kids, by kids” educates the opera singers and patrons of tomorrow.
The program was sung by Minnesota Opera’s Resident Artists (having only been in the program for three weeks), as well as two alumni of the program, Karin Wolverton and Andrew Wilkowske. Nadia Fayad and Mary Evelyn Hangley were particularly impressive, singing arias from Dead Man Walking and Thaïs respectively. Andres Acosta sang a very interesting aria from the new opera Fellow Travelers, which will come to Minnesota in June after premiering in Cincinnati last year. Acosta sang this aria in a laid-back manner, matching the tone and style of the song. Works from Don Pasquale and Rigoletto were performed as well. The afternoon ended with a company front in the Act II Finale of Le nozze di Figaro.
A company well-known for their journeys into new music and non-standard repertoire, this concert was a refreshing take on the typical opera company showcase. The spirit of bringing new works to life was certainly felt at this performance, and I hope Minnesota Opera will continue to grow in their mission for years to come!
Tickets and more information for this exciting season filled with old favorites and newbies can be found right here.
Feature image: mike appel via Flickr.