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FEATURE: The Opera Lover’s Guide to Opera in Minnesota

Baritone Jeehoon Kim in Really Spicy Opera’s 2016 production of Rigoletto.

New to the Twin Cities? Want to know where to go for opera? Well, you’re in the right place: the Arts Reader‘s guide to opera in Minnesota.

Where To See Opera

Fargo-Moorhead

The main producer of operas in the Fargo-Moorhead region is the aptly named Fargo Moorhead Opera, which produces three classic operas per year. Minnesota State University Moorhead also hosts an opera workshop ensemble.

Central Minnesota

The Paramount Theater in St. Cloud, MN occasionally hosts touring operas such as collaborations between the St. Cloud Symphony and Minnesota Opera.

Southern Minnesota

In Mankato, MN, two options are available:

  • The Mankato Symphony presents occasional concert performances of operas, musicals, and themed opera excerpts.
  • Minnesota State University-Mankato is home to an opera workshop and presents periodic staged operas.

Residents of southeast Minnesota can also duck across the border to La Crosse, WI for productions and concerts at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and Viterbo University.

Twin Cities

Almost two-thirds of Minnesota’s population lives in the Twin Cities Metro Region, so it’s not surprising that the area is also home to the most opera companies and training programs. The main professional opera companies in the metro area are Minnesota Opera (the grand dame), Mill City Summer Opera (1 opera per year), Really Spicy Opera (new operas), and Skylark Opera Theatre (small-scale, intimate operas):

  • Minnesota Opera operates September-May and typically produces five operas (four classic, one new) per year at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul. MN Opera occasionally tours productions within the state.
  • Mill City Summer Opera produces one large-scale opera or musical production each July. Its normal home is the Mill City Museum’s ruined courtyard in Minneapolis, on the banks of the Mississippi.
  • Really Spicy Opera produces several new operas and/or musicals per year for its mainstage productions; it occasionally produces classic operas for its education and outreach programs. RSO tours domestically and internationally.
  • Skylark Opera Theatre currently presents small-scale, intimate operas (some written as chamber operas, others stripped-down versions of classic operas). It currently produces two operas per year.
A promotional photo from Nautilus Music Theater’s 2017 production of Twisted Apples.

The Minnesota Orchestra and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra sometimes present concert or semi-staged operas or musicals as part of their summer programming. Garden of Song Opera, an all-female performing arts company, presents one opera-related program per year. Nautilus Music-Theater also sometimes develops and stages new operas.

Many of the colleges and universities in the Twin Cities present operas during the academic year, noticeably the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Comic operas (e.g., Gilibert & Sullivan, Offenbach) are staged by the semi-professional Gilbert and Sullivan Very Light Opera Company, area schools, and area theatres.

Two opera-producing organizations in the area have ceased operations in recent years: Metamorphosis Opera Theater (inactive since 2015) and Minnesota Concert Opera (inactive since 2015 and formally shutdown in October 2017).

Up North

A photo of LOON Opera’s 2017 semi-staged performance of J.S. Bach’s St. John Passion. Photo by Michelle Sangster.

Northeastern Minnesota is home to one professional opera company: the Lyric Opera of the North (also known as LOON Opera). LOON Opera typically presents 1-2 fully staged operas per year, plus additional concert programs.

The University of Minnesota–Duluth Opera Studio and Opera Theatre also present opera scenes and one fully staged opera per year; just across the border, the University of Wisconsin–Superior Opera Workshop program also presents public performances.

Have an addition to our list? Email us at twincitiesarts@gmail.com.

Amy Donahue

Amy Donahue is a guest contributor to the Twin Cities Arts Reader. She is studying abroad in the Fall of 2017 and reporting on arts in Europe.

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