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November 05, 2012 — Minnesota Opera announces world premiere of 'The Manchurian Candidate'
February 02, 2013 — Entering the next half century: Minnesota Opera announces its 2013-2014 season
October 26, 2012 — Minnesota Opera announces premiere of a revised 'The Dream of Valentino'
May 14, 2013 — Minnesota Opera concludes residency in St. Cloud
April 26, 2013 — "Opera under the Stars" La bohème June 14-16
April 18, 2013 — Minnesota Opera Orchestra contract negotiations completed
March 26, 2013 — Minnesota Opera's Turandot opens on April 13
March 7, 2013 — Tempo presents "The Rogue Song" on March 23
February 7, 2013 — Minnesota Opera's Hamlet opens on March 2
January 11, 2013 — "The Certainty of Rhetoric" on January 16
December 5, 2012 — Minnesota Opera presents the world premiere of Doubt on January 26
November 04, 2012 — Minnesota Opera presents the world premier of 'Doubt' on January 26
October 22, 2012 — 'Anna Bolena' Online Press Room
October 22, 2012 — Donizetti's 'Anna Bolena' opens November 10
September 22, 2012 — 'Nabucco' Online Press Room
September 12, 2012 — Verdi's 'Nabucco' opens on September 22
July 13, 2012 — Minnesota Opera 50th anniversary season update
January 28, 2012 — Minnesota Opera announces its 50th anniversary season
June 21, 2012 — Minnesota Opera anticipates finishing in the black
April 16, 2012 — Kevin Puts wins Pulitzer Prize in Music for 'Silent Night'
April 4, 2012 — Minnesota premiere of Susan Kander's 'The Giver' opens April 27
March 26, 2012 — 'Madame Butterfly', Puccini's beloved classic, opens April 14
March 21, 2012 — Minnesota Opera announces executive change
March 16, 2012 — Minnesota Opera achieves a 10-year subscription high
February 14, 2012 — Minnesota Opera's 'Lucia di Lammermoor' opens March 3
January 19, 2012 — Minnesota Opera appoints Michael Christie as Music Director
January 18, 2012 — Minnesota Opera presents premiere webcast of Werther on February 5
January 17, 2012 — Project Opera Announces Upcoming Concert and Commission
January 12, 2012 — Minnesota Opera's 'Werther' opens January 28
December 8, 2011 — Plans for Transformation of Ordway Center for the Performing Arts Unveiled
October 12, 2011 — Minnesota Opera announces world premiere of Doubt
October 5, 2011 — Minnesota Opera presents the world premiere of Silent Night
September 6, 2011 — Minnesota Opera's 49th season opens September 24 Mozart's Così fan tutte
August 16, 2011 — Tempo's Opera Tasting 2011 is September 17
July 11, 2011 — Minnesota Opera's 2011-2012 Season Update
April 19, 2011 — Minnesota Opera's Iron Range Residency
April 15, 2011 — Minnesota Opera to capture Wuthering Heights in HD
March 22, 2011 — Wuthering Heights casting update
February 15, 2011 — La traviata, Verdi’s signature tragic love story, opens March 5
January 31, 2011 — Minnesota Opera announces its 2011–2012 season
January 11, 2011 — Project Opera Performs a Winter Concert January 16
January 11, 2011 — Minnesota Opera in Alexandria January 30
January 5, 2011 — New Production of Mary Stuart Opens January 29
November 11, 2010 — Allan Naplan has been named President and General Director of Minnesota Opera
August 25, 2010 — Minnesota Opera updates its 2010-2011 season
August 19, 2010 — Minnesota Opera finishes in the black for the eight year in a row
May 12, 2010 — Minnesota Opera President and CEO Kevin Smith to retire
April 28, 2010 — coOPERAtion! Chisholm Residency
April 5, 2010 — Project Opera to perform Spring Concert
March 18, 2010 — New production of Salome opens April 10
February 10, 2010 — Minnesota Opera’s production of Puccini’s La bohème opens March 6
January 6, 2010 — New Production of Roberto Devereux by Donizetti opens January 30
December 8, 2009 — Project Opera to perform Winter Concert
August 31, 2009 — Bizet's The Pearl Fishers Opens 2009-2010 Season
July 27, 2009 — Minnesota Opera Announces Season
July 8, 2009 — The Minnesota Opera finishes FY 2009 in the black
January 2, 2009 — Gounod's Faust opens on January 24
November 13, 2008 — Minnesota Opera receives Wallace Excellence Award
October 9, 2008 — Rossini's The Barber of Seville: Three extra shows added
October 6, 2008 — Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio opens on November 1st
August 22, 2008 — Verdi's Il trovatore opens 46th season on September 20
August 22, 2008 — Grapes of Wrath: World-Premiere Recording Released August 26
January 26, 2008 — 2008-2009 Season Announced
William Fietzer, Examiner.com
The early 20th century exposed the need of curbing the unbridled excesses of Western expansionism that marked the Victorian Age. Emulating such naturalistic writers as Emile Zola and Upton Sinclair, John Luther Long delineated the social fallout that resulted from the confluence of different cultures in a short story that playwright David Belasco dramatized for the stage and from which verismo composer Giacomo Puccini adapted into his operatic masterpiece, Madame Butterfly.
All of Puccini's musical, thematic, and emotional facets were on brilliant display at the Minnesota Opera's premiere of his work at the Ordway Theater Saturday night. The orchestra's rendition of the score captured every impressionistic nuance and color of scene and mood that mark Puccini's characters and situations. The minimalist staging with its sliding bamboo doors and imaginary garden reflected the weaknesses of Japanese law and custom at the time. And the acting by all the performers from John Robert Lindsay's mincing depiction of the marriage broker Goro to Levi Hernandez's version of the ineffectual diplomat Sharpless embodied the personal and functional limitations of their respective cultures.
Michael Anthony, Star Tribune
Minnesota Opera is ending its 49th season on a high note: a poignant, sensitively staged, adroitly sung revival of its 2004 production of Puccini's "Madame Butterfly."
The late Colin Graham, the revered English director, staged this "Butterfly" the first time around. This is an opera whose story is so direct and affecting that it doesn't easily lend itself to heavy directorial and ideological concepts. Simple and truthful is better in the case of "Butterfly," and Graham, it would seem, held that view.
Neil Patel's set, made up chiefly of interlocking Japanese screens, forms a back-drop for the characters' uncluttered, flowing movements, some of which show off a touch of Kabuki theater. It's obvious that Graham, a practicing Buddhist, knew a thing or two about Japanese culture, the result of which is that it's almost as if we're seeing the story from a Japanese point of view rather than from the perspective of an Italian -- Puccini himself -- or of an American, that of Lt. Pinkerton, the Naval officer who buys the 15-year-old Butterfly and then leaves her, pregnant and outcast by her family, while he returns home to acquire "a real American wife."
Giacomo Puccini's "Madame Butterfly" is among the world's most popular operas, yet, in many ways, it's a tough opera to love.
While Puccini's music is magnificent, it's used to tell a pretty discomfiting story: An American naval officer marries a 15-year-old Japanese girl in Nagasaki. Part of her family shuns her, while the rest are driven away by the officer, who subsequently abandons her, sails for America and marries again while the girl slowly runs out of food and money while awaiting his return.
Yet the Minnesota Opera's production does so many things right that the work's problematic premise is well worth overlooking. With acting and design ideas that demonstrate both respect and affection for Japanese tradition, it's a staging full of insight. And soprano Kelly Kaduce delivers such a tour de force as the title character that she alone makes this a production well worth experiencing.
Jay Gabler, TC Daily Planet
I've recently become hooked on a poignant blog called Old Loves. The blog is simply a series of photos of past celebrity couples, presented with little or no commentary. It's compelling not only as a time capsule (Jim Carrey dated her?), but as a testament to the eternal spring of hope. These are people leading lives that are not conducive to long-term relationships, and yet they keep trying—dating and marrying again and again and again, hoping that this time, against all odds, those promises will be kept.
Puccini's classic opera Madame Butterfly would make an apt soundtrack to that blog. The eponymous teenager, a Japanese girl preparing to marry an American naval officer, is warned by everyone in her family that the match will end in ruin—but she determinedly chooses to take the risk, to gamble that her fiancé Pinkerton is a good man who will never leave her. Act One is about the budding of that hope, and Act Two is about its tragic end.
Larry Fuchsberg, Star Tribune
Rife with foreboding, studded with the clichés of romanticism (a fatal love, a ferocious storm, a ruined tower, a haunted fountain, a madwoman), Gaetano Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor, " which opened Saturday at the Ordway Center in Minnesota Opera's exceptional, double-cast production, has held the stage since its 1835 premiere -- the only non-comic bel canto opera with a continuous performance history. If not an unequivocal masterpiece -- the music ranges from the sublime (the Act 2 sextet) to the oddly chirpy -- "Lucia" is a repertory mainstay. It helped fuel the bel canto revival of the 1950s and '60s. And its mad scene, a favorite topic of feminist musicology, has made the career of more than one now-legendary soprano.
It's too early to bestow legendary status on Alabama-born Susanna Phillips, the Lucia of the opening-night cast, but she is, as pollsters say, headed in the right direction. Possessing an opulent instrument, Phillips has all the agility her role requires. But she is no wind-up nightingale: her coloratura is about communication, not display. Her quiet singing, with its floated, other-worldly high notes, is exquisite; her acting, lit with intelligence, is charismatic enough to hold the audience's gaze throughout her quarter-hour mad scene (which in this case ends in suicide).
Rob Hubbard, Pioneer Press
A man and a woman from rival factions fall passionately in love. A sibling betrayal leads to murderous madness. Throw in vocal lines that soar and boom like fireworks, and you have the makings of a marvelous opera.
And Gaetano Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor" can certainly be one, especially when the soprano singing the title role transcends its daunting demands with a thrilling tour de force, as Susanna Phillips does in the Minnesota Opera's current production. Her Lucia is a charmer whose tragic turn proves deeply touching, thanks to Phillips' rich, realistic characterization and supple, roof-raising voice.
Larry Fuchsberg, Star Tribune
If sentimentality is your thing, Jules Massenet's 1892 "Werther," which opened Saturday at Ordway Center in a new Minnesota Opera production marking the centenary of the composer's death, is an essential evening in the theater -- an unabashed, world-class, multi-hanky tear-jerker, engineered by a meticulous master.
But even if your musical diet is rigorously schmaltz-free, there are other pleasures to be savored in this, the first of Massenet's 30 operas to be mounted by the 49-year-old company, notably the singing of tenor James Valenti and mezzo-soprano Roxana Constantinescu.
Rob Hubbard, Pioneer Press
Down with intellectualism! Up with passion!
You could say that that, in essence, was a Romantic's rallying cry in 19th-century Europe, when the continent was overflowing with art bent upon engaging the heart more than the mind. And if they could build their case upon a novel by a literary legend of the previous century like Johann Goethe, all the better.
French composer Jules Massenet tapped Goethe with "Werther," an 1892 opera currently receiving its first production in the Minnesota Opera's almost-half-century history. If you read the list of ingredients, it seems ideal for opera: A young scholar falls in love at first sight, but she's promised to another, leading him to a life of anguish interspersed with tortured professions of his passion.
But the opera has a host of shortcomings, particularly a clunky libretto that can leave you wondering if important details haven't been omitted. That said, the Minnesota Opera's production is quite impressive, particularly in the invariably powerful arias of tenor James Valenti in the title role, but also in an imaginative industrial-age set design by Allen Moyer. Yes, it's a flawed work, but this is an outstanding interpretation.
Rob Hubbard, Pioneer Press
When last we left tenor James Valenti, it was March 2010 and he was singing the male lead in Giacomo Puccini's "La Boheme" with the Minnesota Opera. The Twin Cities had become something of a second home for the 6-foot-5, ruggedly handsome tenor from New Jersey, as he cut his professional teeth here in his early 20s as a Minnesota Opera resident artist and had returned for lead roles in Giuseppe Verdi's "La Traviata" and Charles Gounod's "Romeo and Juliet."
But his career promptly skyrocketed when he left town that spring. He went straight to New York's Metropolitan Opera to sing the romantic lead in "La Traviata" with star soprano Angela Gheorghiu, a role that he'd already sung at Italy's storied La Scala. Then he joined a couple of superstars (Anna Netrebko and Thomas Hampson) for the same role with London's Royal Opera, where he also sang the male lead in Puccini's "Madame Butterfly" and the title role in Gounod's "Faust."
However, he hasn't forgotten Minnesota, for Valenti returns to the Ordway Center stage tonight in the title role of Jules Massenet's "Werther." We caught up with him between rehearsals to ask about the difference between the Minnesota Opera and those big companies and being Werther.
Graydon Royce, Star Tribune
The camera loves them. James Valenti and Roxana Constantinescu, decked out in glamorous black duds, flashed their pearly whites and traded lines while shooting a commercial last week to promote "Werther," the new Minnesota Opera production that opens Saturday.
"Unrequited love," he begins.
"Passion," she answers.
"Ideals. ... Reality. ... 'Werther' is a love story. ... It's gorgeous music. ... And extraordinary voices. ... Come see us in 'Werther!'"
With tenor Valenti in the title role and Constantinescu as Charlotte, his "unrequited love" interest, the Minnesota Opera has turned up the heat, casting two singers who are gorgeous in voice as well as appearance. This is Valenti's third lead role in Minnesota since 2008. Constantinescu, who laughed off a casual joke in the studio about divas ("I'm just a mezzo"), returns after charming audiences as Cinderella in October 2010.