IRON RANGE — The Northern Lights Music Festival announces its 17th season of bringing classical music to the Iron Range, much of it outdoors, from July 4 to July 27.
Topping the roster of events is the NLMF’s production of Puccini’s Tosca, one of the most popular operas in the repertoire. Originally set in Italy’s Bonaparte wars of the 19th century, Ecuadorian director Chia Patino will bring the setting forward to modern day Latin America, with revolutionaries and conservative forces battling as the opera’s detestable villain, Scarpia, sets his sights on the beautiful singer, Floria Tosca. A brilliant cast has been engaged, starring Leah Crocetto as Tosca; Metropolitan Opera’s Daniel Sutin as the repellent Scarpia; and Metropolitan Opera’s Rafael Davila as the hero, Cavaradossi.
The opera will be conducted by the Mariinsky Theatre’s Gavriel Heine.
The health concerns of the public and the artists required a re-thinking of how to deliver this year’s program, and the opera venue has become the amphitheater at the Minnesota Discovery Center in Chisholm. To keep the orchestra safe, patrons will see a distanced orchestra placed to the sides of the orchestra pit, with Plexiglas dividers between wind players and the rest of the orchestra.
Singers have been staged to avoid close contact, and the NLMF Opera Chorus will rehearse in the open air and record at the Miners Memorial Building in Virginia, distanced and separated by Plexiglas. This recorded track will be projected together with the live performance to avoid compromising the health of the singers. NLMF will present two performances of this masterpiece: Friday, July 17, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, July 19, at 7 p.m. Audiences will be limited to 250 patrons per show, and seated in assigned, distanced seats. Patrons must be masked to enter the Minnesota Discovery Center.
Artistic Director Veda Zuponcic stated, “We had hoped that the timing of our festival would coincide with the opening of some venues, and we were lucky that we had the flexibility to move some events further into the summer. We also hoped to provide a service to our free-lance musicians who have been without work since March, and perhaps [continuing] even into the fall. We have had well more than 150 requests to sing, play or provide technical support to our orchestral and operatic productions, and are happy that the grant money we received can help our artistic workers at this time. We feel we can be at the forefront of working with the new realities of healthy artistic performance and can present great art to the Iron Range public this summer.
It must also be said that our artists will treat their presence in the community with respect and care.”
Opening the festival will be two outdoor performances to celebrate the Fourth of July. Festive Fourth will be produced at Virginia’s Olcott Park Bob Baldrica Bandstand, on the 4th at 4 p.m. with the NLMF Orchestra, conducted by Gavriel Heine, presenting Gershwin’s “American in Paris,” Bernstein’s “Overture to Candide,” a set of Sousa marches as a tip of the hat to the day, and Opera Arias by the cast of NLMF Opera’s production of “Tosca.” The concert will be repeated on the 5th of July in Chisholm at the Minnesota Discovery Center amphitheater, also at 4 p.m. The concerts are free to the public, and a limit of 250 patrons are allowed to be admitted to the venues, socially distanced and masked. Donations will be gratefully accepted.
For the festival’s full schedule, updated information and to purchase tickets, visit www.northernlightsmusic.org.