The opera scene in the Twin Cities has a unique presentation. With much emphasis on opera education and making opera music accessible, the Minneapolis and St. Paul communities have come together to provide atypical and intriguing venues in addition to standard formal opera house extravaganzas.
Most prominent is the institution of the Minnesota Opera – among the largest opera companies in the nation – offering a variety of traditional and newer productions at St. Paul’s Ordway Center for the Performing Arts as well as hosting a Resident Artist Program that draws budding singers from around the country. For those desiring an all-English experience, the Skylark Opera presents opera, operetta, and musical theater around the cities. The Twin Cities Opera Guild, a national pioneer in opera education for children, collaborates with schools to present works designed and performed by young students. The University of Minnesota School of Music also puts on some excellent productions.
An exciting new company, Mill City Summer Opera, will present its first production Pagliacci in July 2012 in the open courtyard ruins of Minneapolis’ Mill City Museum, site of the 1874 flour mill. The Minneapolis based Gilbert and Sullivan Very Light Opera Company strives to introduce G&S works to modern audiences. For those who just cannot bring themselves to attend an entire opera, feel free to grab a drink at Honey, a bar in Minneapolis that hosts local opera performers one evening a month as part of the national Opera on Tap organization.
Perhaps Minnesota’s strong vocal music heritage has played a role in cultivating a region very welcoming of vocal study, exploration, and cutting edge performances. Whatever the reason, there is always something scheduled that will meet the needs of even the most avid opera seeker. (Naomi Bird)