Minnesota Opera Center
620 N. First Street
History of the Opera Center
In 1990, the Minnesota Opera renovated three Minneapolis warehouse buildings in which to consolidate its scenic and costume shops, rehearsal facilities and administrative offices. The Minnesota Opera Center, located at 620 North First Street in the Warehouse District of Minneapolis, is adjacent to the Itasca development and the former home of the Guthrie Lab Theater. The project was developed with the assistance of the Minneapolis Community Development Agency and financed by First Banks, N.A. (now US Bank).
"The consolidation of our operations at The Minnesota Opera Center dramatically enhanced the interaction and capabilities of the Opera," said President and CEO Kevin Smith. "This project strengthened us artistically and institutionally by providing a functional, creative work environment and by stabilizing overhead costs."
The North First Street location was chosen after a two-year search. The three properties, at a total of 50,000 square feet, provide for a clear-span scenic shop, costume shop, a large rehearsal hall the size of the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts stage, a smaller rehearsal hall, coaching rooms, administrative offices and extensive storage facilities for scenery and costumes. The large rehearsal room, called the Bemis Rehearsal Hall, occasionally serves as a performance space for small-scale and workshop productions. The expanded scenic and costume shops have enabled the Opera not only to build the majority of its own productions but also to increase the amount of contract work it can do for other arts organizations. In the past, the Opera has built productions for Santa Fe Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Texas Opera Theater, Ohio Ballet, Opera Omaha, Children’s Theatre and Plymouth Music Series. The Opera also frequently builds the operas that it co-produces with other opera organizations, as it did for the 1998 production of Aida.
"The Minnesota Opera Center is one of the finest and most complete opera facilities in the nation," said Mr. Smith. "It represented a major step in the growth of this company."
The cost of acquisition and renovation of the Minnesota Opera Center was approximately $3 million. Phillips Klein Companies served as the architect and general contractor for the project. David Phillips, President of Phillips Klein, was the design architect. Phillips Klein also served as the architect and general contractor for the Guthrie Lab.
Charles Leer, project developer for the Minnesota Opera Center, is a real-estate developer specializing in the area of adaptive reuse. His work focuses on conception and execution of projects involving older buildings that have outlived their original purposes and require adaptation to meet current needs. Mr. Leer also conceived of and managed the development of the Guthrie Lab.