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Posts about Behind the scenes

Minnesota Opera gets new support from Mellon Foundation

Posted by: Graydon Royce Updated: July 17, 2014 - 10:03 AM

 

Minnesota Opera’s reputation for developing new work has drawn interest and encouragement from many sources nationally and internationally. The company announced Thursday that it will receive a $750,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support upcoming commissions of “The Manchurian Candidate,” “The Shining” and “Dinner at Eight.”

 

The gift, which stretches over three years, completes fundraising for the Opera’s $7 million New Works Initiative and launches a new phase.

The gift “sets the stage for the Initiative’s continuation and underscores the national importance of this landmark program for the development of new opera,” Opera President and General Director Kevin Ramach said in a statement.

The initiative was launched in 2008 with the intention of supporting new commissions and revivals of newer work (which in opera can mean anything from the last century) or work seldom performed. Among the world premieres developed through the program are “Silent Night” (Photo above by Tom Wallace) by Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell and “Doubt” by John Patrick Shanley and Douglas Cuomo (below, photo by Tom Wallace).

 

Puts won the Pulitzer Prize for music for his “Silent Night” score. He and Campbell are working on an adaptation of “The Manchurian Candidate,” which is in development and targeted for a premiere next March.

Campbell will also serve as librettist for “The Shining” with composer Paul Moravec (slated for May 2016) and he will write “Dinner at Eight” with composer William Bolcom (headed for 2017). Both those productions are part of the second phase of the initiative. Additionally, the New Works Initiative incorporates a co-commission of “Cold Mountain” (based on Charles Frazier's Civil War novel) with Santa Fe and Opera Philadelphia, with a score by composer Jennifer Higdon.

Southern Theater announces membership model for 2015

Posted by: Graydon Royce Updated: July 15, 2014 - 3:26 PM

Photo by David Joles

For many years, there has been idle chatter about how smaller performance groups and venues could somehow leverage their disparate values into something greater.

The Southern Theater has put that concept to work in ARTshare, a new program that uses the subscription model to let audiences sample work from 15 resident theater and dance troupes. Patrons buy an $18 monthly membership and then are all set to pick and choose. Memberships go on sale July 22 for calendar year 2015. The Southern hopes to sell 1,500 memberships and will stop at 2,100.

At the same time, the Southern will change how it schedules performances and allow several companies to run in repertory.

“When multiple resident companies perform in the same week, audiences have more opportunities to see new work,” said Damon Runnals, the Southern’s executive director, in a statement.

The program provides stability for the companies involved, variety for audiences and a much stronger sense of purpose for the Southern, which has in recent years had financial and programmatic issues. The 200-seat theater on Washington Av. now has something that loosely resembles an eclectic season that relies on the strengths of the producing companies.

“The end result is hopefully a better fulfillment of The Southern’s mission: to foster a community of exceptional artists,” Runnals stated.  

There will be 15 productions, according to the press release, with 144 performances through 2015. A partial list of the companies includes: Black Label Movement, Four Humors Theater, Live Action Set, Mathew Janczeski’s ARENA DANCES, Sandbox Theatre, Savage Umbrella, Swandive, Sossy Mechanics, TigerLion Arts, Workhaus Collective.

Memberships and information will be available at the Southern’s website, starting at 2 p.m. on July 22.

Night owls win big after All-Star Game

Posted by: Claude Peck Updated: July 15, 2014 - 3:54 PM

POSTED BY KAREN ZAMORA

The night doesn’t have to end after Tuesday’s All-Star Game at the Twins Stadium. The usual 2 a.m. last call will not apply to many Minneapolis bars celebrating the main event.

All-Star Gamers have plenty of options to continue their fun.

Thirty-one downtown bars will remain open until 4 a.m. on game night. Many of which will host DJs and really late-night happy hours. Click here for an interactive map with street addresses.

Bars in Kansas City where the 2012 MLB All-Star game took place did not have extended bar hours.

Fringe Festival kicks off with first preview

Posted by: Graydon Royce Updated: July 15, 2014 - 12:36 PM

Jeff Larson, the new executive director, threw out the first pitches of the 2014 Minnesota Fringe Festival on Monday night at Rarig Center. “Fringe Previews #1” gave about 120 people a taste of what’s coming up in the July 31-Aug. 10 festival of theater, dance and performance art.

Larson jockeyed 30 shows into three-minute previews (and how disciplined 98 percent of them were – staying within the time limit!). There will be another preview 7 p.m. next Monday (the 21st) at Rarig. Again, 30 shows will get three minutes to tempt you into spending an hour with them at the festival. If you need even more information, the out-of-town Fringers will do a preview at 7 p.m. July 30 at Mixed Blood. Admission is $4, which gets you a Fringe button and you’ll need that button to get into the festival.

It's always chancy to choose shows from three-minute previews but as with a book, sometimes you really can judge it by the cover. It would be unfair to torpedo any of the vignettes I saw Monday night and scrawled in my program these variations: “No, not worth the trouble; No, absolutely not; No-No, ignore.”

However, if you want some positive feedback, these shows hit the top of my list: “Failure: A Love Story;” “Tatterhood;” “The Tourist Trap;” “Cursed;” “Indefinite Articles;” “Marie-Jeanne Valet;” “Sex and Sensibility,” and “Hour Town.” The last two were my favorites but the others were solidly on the nice list.

Again, caveat emptor. Just because you can put together three good minutes, is no guarantee. This is not a prospectus, nor a solicitation to buy. But I liked what I saw.

As Larson noted, at least on Monday night, what’s with all the Southern accents this year? There were three or four shows in a row with a possum-pie feel. Has “Dukes of Hazzard” made a comeback somewhere?

Larson also announced that the Fringe was one of 69 finalists chosen by the Knight Foundation for a program that funds arts and cultural programs in St. Paul (the Knight family once owned the newspaper there). About 75 percent of the finalists made the cut so it’s a good bet there will be a second Fringe during the Winter Carnival – which was the festival’s proposal for fund dollars.

I don’t know whether it’s a sign of the quality this year, but the previews Monday were generally so much better than previous years. Make no mistake, there are stinkers. But I remember past occasions where a three-minute preview felt like an hour with a splitting headache.

See you next Monday.

Minneapolis Institute of Arts hires new curator of Native American art

Posted by: Mary Abbe Updated: June 30, 2014 - 5:04 PM

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts has hired Jill Ahlberg Yohe to be Assistant Curator of Native American Art in the department of Africa and the Americas. Ahlberg Yohe, who will start work in Minneapolis on August 4, comes from the Saint Louis Art Museum where she has been an assistant curator of Native American Art since 2013 and a Mellon Fellow since 2011. She replaces Joe Horse-Capture, former associate curator of Native American Art, who moved to Washington, D. C. in May 2013 for a post at the National Museum of the American Indian.

Ahlberg Yohe earned a doctorate in cultural anthropology at the University of New Mexico with a dissertation on "The Social Life of Weaving in Contemporary Navaho Life." Previously she was a visiting assistant professor of anthropology at Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, PA. She co-curated the exhibition "Mother Earth, Father Sky: Textiles from the Navajo World," which is currently on view at the St. Louis Art Museum.

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