History

In 1963, the commission of a world premiere sparked the creation of a small Twin Cities opera company spotlighting the rare and avant-garde. Fifty five years later, Minnesota Opera is one of the nation’s largest and most distinguished opera companies, known for its world-class artistry and innovative productions.

Minnesota Opera’s roots were planted when the Walker Art Center commissioned Dominick Argento to compose an opera (The Masque of Angels) for its performing arts program, Center Opera. Center Opera focused on the composition and performance of new works by American composers, and, under the influence of the Walker Art Center, emphasized visual design. Known as a progressive, “alternative” opera production company throughout the 1970s, Minnesota Opera merged with the St. Paul Opera in 1976, and through the 1980s, began to shift its focus to include more “traditional” repertoire.

In 1985, Minnesota Opera became a founding tenant of St. Paul’s Ordway Center, still home to its mainstage season, and in 1990, opened the Minnesota Opera Center in Minneapolis, combining scenic and costume shops, rehearsal facilities and administrative offices into three renovated warehouses on the Mississippi riverfront. From that full production facility, Minnesota Opera created large-scale, innovative productions that built the company’s national reputation as a leading producer.

The two decades that followed marked a period of institutional and artistic growth. The company expanded its season, increased the quality of its artistry and launched its Resident Artist Program. At the same time, recognition for Minnesota Opera’s progressive and far-reaching educational programs grew.

In 2000, Minnesota Opera further expanded its season, advanced its production capacity and articulated an artistic vision inspired by early 19th -century Italian Bel Canto (literally “beautiful singing”) values, which emphasize intense emotional expression supported by exquisite technique. Minnesota Opera became a destination for audiences and artists interested in Bel Canto-period operas, and these artistic values now inform every aspect of the company’s programs, from repertoire selection and visual design to casting and artist training.

The 2007 world premiere of The Grapes of Wrath inspired the landmark New Works Initiative, which spawned the commissions of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Silent Night (Kevin Puts/Mark Campbell, 2012), Doubt (Douglas J. Cuomo and John Patrick Shanley, 2013), The Manchurian Candidate (Puts/Campbell, 2015), and The Shining (Moravec/Campbell, 2016). These efforts set the stage for Minnesota Opera to become what it is today – one of America’s largest opera companies, admired as an innovative creator of compelling operas, programs, and new works.

 

 

Past Repertoire 1963-2017

Legend

§ World Premiere/Commission
* American Premiere
▲ Tour production/Education Tour
♠ Concert Version/Semi-Staged
• New Music-Theater Ensemble production

 

2016–2017

Romeo and Juliet (Gounod)

Das Rheingold (Wagner)

Diana’s Garden (Martín y Soler)

§ Dinner at Eight (Bolcom)

La bohème (Puccini)

 

2015–2016

Ariadne auf Naxos (Strauss)

The Magic Flute (Mozart)

Rusalka (Dvořák)

Tosca (Puccini)

§ The Shining (Moravec)

 

2014–2015

La faniculla del West (Puccini)

Hansel and Gretel (Humperdinck)

The Elixir of Love (Donizetti)

§ The Manchurian Candidate (Puts)

Carmen (Bizet)

 

2013–2014

Manon Lescaut (Puccini)

Arabella (Strauss)

Macbeth (Verdi)

The Dream of Valentino (Argento)

The Magic Flute (Mozart)

 

2012–2013

Nabucco (Verdi)

Anna Bolena (Donizetti)

§ Doubt (Cuomo)

Hamlet (Thomas)

Turandot (Puccini)

 

2011–2012

Così fan tutte (Mozart)

§ Silent Night (Puts)

Werther (Massenet)

Lucia di Lammermoor (Donizetti)

Madame Butterfly (Puccini)

 

2010–2011

Orpheus and Eurydice (Gluck)

Cinderella (Rossini)

Mary Stuart (Donizetti)

La traviata (Verdi)

Wuthering Heights (Herrmann)

 

2009–2010

The Pearl Fishers (Bizet)

Casanova’s Homecoming (Argento)

Roberto Devereux (Donizetti)

La bohème (Puccini)

Salome (Strauss)

 

2008–2009

Il trovatore (Verdi)

The Abduction from the Seraglio (Mozart)

Faust (Gounod)

*The Adventures of Pinocchio (Dove)

The Barber of Seville (Rossini)

 

2007–2008

A Masked Ball (Verdi)

The Italian Girl in Algiers (Rossini)

Romeo and Juliet (Gounod)

*The Fortunes of King Croesus (Keiser)

Rusalka (Dvořák)

 

2006–2007

La donna del lago (Rossini)

The Tales of Hoffmann (Offenbach)

§ The Grapes of Wrath (Gordon)

Lakmé (Delibes)

The Marriage of Figaro (Mozart)

 

2005–2006

Tosca (Puccini)

Don Giovanni (Mozart)

*Orazi & Curiazi (Mercadante)

*Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man (Petitgirard)

 

2004–2005

Madame Butterfly (Puccini)

Maria Padilla (Donizetti)

Carmen (Bizet)

Nixon in China (Adams)

 

2003–2004

Rigoletto (Verdi)

Lucrezia Borgia (Donizetti)

Passion (Sondheim)

The Magic Flute (Mozart)

 

2002–2003

The Merry Widow (Lehár)

Norma (Bellini)

The Flying Dutchman (Wagner)

La traviata (Verdi)

*The Handmaid’s Tale (Ruders)

 

2001–2002

Lucia di Lammermoor (Donizetti)

La clemenza di Tito (Mozart)

La bohème (Puccini)

Little Women (Adamo)

Don Carlos (Verdi)

 

2000–2001

Turandot (Puccini)

The Capulets and the Montagues (Bellini)

Street Scene (Weill)

The Barber of Seville (Rossini)

Pagliacci/Carmina burana (Leoncavallo/Orff)

▲ The Barber of Seville (Rossini)

§ The Birds, the Beasts, and the Ball Game (Alcorn)

 

1999–2000

Der Rosenkavalier (Strauss)

Macbeth (Verdi)

Semiramide (Rossini)

The Marriage of Figaro (Mozart)

▲ The Marriage of Figaro (Mozart)

§ The Cat That Walked By Himself (Alcorn)

 

1998–1999

Otello (Verdi)

Madame Butterfly (Puccini)

The Turn of the Screw (Britten)

Faust (Gounod)

▲ Madame Butterfly (Puccini)

§ How the Camel Got His Hump (Alcorn)

 

1997–1998

Aida (Verdi)

Cinderella (Rossini)

*Transatlantic (Antheil)

Tosca (Puccini)

▲ Cinderella (Rossini)

 

1996–1997

La traviata (Verdi)

The Magic Flute (Mozart)

The Rake’s Progress (Stravinsky)

Carmen (Bizet)

▲ Carmen (Bizet)

 

1995–1996

La bohème (Puccini)

Don Giovanni (Mozart)

Pelléas and Mélisande (Debussy)

The Tales of Hoffmann (Offenbach)

▲ The Bohemians (Puccini)

 

1994–1995

Turandot (Puccini)

The Barber of Seville (Rossini)

Rigoletto (Verdi)

§ Bok Choy Variations (Chen & Simonson)

▲ Figaro’s Revenge (Rossini, Paisiello)

 

1993–1994

Julius Caesar (Handel)

*Diary of an African American (Peterson)

Il trovatore (Verdi)

§ The Merry Widow & The Hollywood Tycoon (Lehár)

▲ Don Giovanni (Mozart)

 

1992–1993

The Flying Dutchman (Wagner)

Armida (Rossini)

Madame Butterfly (Puccini)

The Pirates of Penzance (Gilbert & Sullivan)

 

1991–1992

Tosca (Puccini)

The Pearl Fishers (Bizet)

The Marriage of Figaro (Mozart)

§ From the Towers of the Moon (Moran & La Chiusa)

▲ The Magic Flute (Mozart)

Carousel (Rodgers & Hammerstein)

 

1990–1991

Norma (Bellini)

The Aspern Papers (Argento)

Carmen (Bizet)

Così fan tutte (Mozart)

▲ Così fan tutte (Mozart)

▲ Swing on a Star (Winkler)

 

1989–1990

La bohème (Puccini)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Britten)

Romeo and Juliet (Gounod)

§ Frankenstein, The Modern Prometheus (Libby Larson)

My Fair Lady (Lerner & Loewe)

§  Snow Leopard (Harper & Nieboer)

▲ Madame Butterfly (Puccini)

Where the Wild Things Are (Sendak & Knussen)

 

1988–1989

Don Giovanni (Mozart)

Salome (R. Strauss)

The Mikado (Gilbert & Sullivan)

The Juniper Tree (Glass & Moran)

Show Boat (Kern & Hammerstein)

§  •Without Colors (Wellman & Shiflett)

§ •Red Tide (Selig & Sherman)

§ •Newest Little Opera in the World (Ensemble)

▲ Cinderella (Rossini)

▲ Tintypes (Kyte, Marvin, Pearle)

 

1987–1988

Die Fledermaus (J. Strauss)

Rigoletto (Verdi)

Rusalka (Dvorak)

•Cowboy Lips (Greene & Madsen)

§ •Fly Away All (Hutchinson & Shank)

•Book of Days (Monk)

Oklahoma! (Rodgers & Hammerstein)

▲ Carmen (Bizet)

▲ Jargonauts, Ahoy! (McKeel)

 

1986–1987

The Pearl Fishers (Bizet)

The Postman Always Rings Twice (Paulus)

Ariadne auf Naxos (R. Strauss)

South Pacific (Rodgers & Hammerstein)

▲ Hansel and Gretel (Humperdinck)

§▲ Jargonauts, Ahoy! (McKeel)

 

1985–1986

*Where the Wild Things Are/Higglety Pigglety Pop! (Knussen & Sendak)

La traviata (Verdi)

The Elixir of Love (Donizetti)

The King and I (Rodgers & Hammerstein)

§Opera Tomorrow

▲ The Fantasticks (Schmidt)

▲ The Magic Flute (Mozart)

§▲ The Music Shop (Wargo)

 

1984–1985

*Animalen (Werle)

§Casanova’s Homecoming (Argento)

The Magic Flute (Mozart)

▲ La bohème (Puccini)

▲ Meanwhile, Back at Cinderella’s (Arlan)

 

1983–1984

Hansel and Gretel (Humperdinck)

Madame Butterfly (Puccini)

La Cenerentola (Rossini)

§ The Abduction of Figaro (PDQ Bach)

▲ The Boor (Argento)

▲ Chanticleer (Barab)

▲ Don Pasquale (Donizetti)

 

1982–1983

Hansel and Gretel (Humperdinck)

Lucia di Lammermoor (Donizetti)

§ A Death in the Family (Mayer)

Kiss Me, Kate (Porter)

▲ The Barber of Seville (Rossini)

▲ The Frog Who Became a Prince (Barnes)

▲ Zetabet (Barnes)

 

1981–1982

Hansel and Gretel (Humperdinck)

The Village Singer (Paulus)

Gianni Schicchi (Puccini)

The Barber of Seville (Rossini)

§ Feathertop (Barnes)

§ The Mask of Evil (Mollicone)

▲ Hansel and Gretel (Humperdinck)

▲ Rosina (Titus)

 

1980–1981

The Merry Widow (Lehar)

Black River (Susa)

Carmen (Bizet)

A Water Bird Talk (Argento)

§ Miss Havisham’s Wedding Night (Argento)

▲ The Marriage of Figaro (Mozart)

▲ The Threepenny Opera (Weill)

 

1979–1980

The Abduction from the Seraglio (Mozart)

The Pirates of Penzance (Gilbert & Sullivan)

La bohème (Puccini)

§Rosina (Titus)

▲ A Christmas Carol (Sandow)

 

1978–1979

The Love for Three Oranges (Prokofiev)

§The Jealous Cellist (Stokes)

The Passion According to St. Matthew (J.S. Bach)

La traviata (Verdi)

The Consul (Menotti)

▲ Viva la Mamma (Donizetti)

 

1977–1978

*Christopher Columbus (Offenbach)

The Mother of Us All (Thomson)

The Marriage of Figaro (Mozart)

§ Claudia Legare (Ward)

 

1976–1977

The Bartered Bride (Smetana)

The Passion According to St. Matthew (J.S. Bach)

Candide (Bernstein)

Mahagonny (Weill)

 

1975–1976

§ Black River (Susa)

El Capitan (Sousa)

Così fan tutte (Mozart)

§ The Voyage of Edgar Allan Poe (Argento)

 

1974–1975

§ Gallimaufry (Minnesota Opera)

§Gulliver (Blackwood, Kaplan, Lewin)

♠ Eight Songs for A Mad King (Davies)

♠ Music from the Court of George III

The Magic Flute (Mozart)

Albert Herring (Britten)

 

1973–1974

El Capitan (Sousa)

Transformations (Susa)

Don Giovanni (Mozart)

§ The Newest Opera in the World (Minnesota Opera)

 

1972–1973

The Threepenny Opera (Weill)

Postcard from Morocco (Argento)

The Barber of Seville (Rossini)

§Transformations (Susa)

 

AS CENTER OPERA COMPANY

1971–1972

§ Postcard from Morocco (Argento)

The Business of Good Government (Marshall)

♠ The Rake’s Progress (Stravisnky)

♠ Four Saints in Three Acts (Thomson)

The Good Soldier Schweik (Kurka)

The Marriage of Figaro (Mozart)

▲ Postcard from Morocco (Argento)

▲ Faust Counter Faust (Gessner)

 

1970–1971

♠ Sir John with Love (Vaughn–Williams)

§Christmas Mummeries & Good Government (Marshall)

§ Faust Counter Faust (Gessner)

The Coronation of Poppea (Monteverdi)

The Mother of Us All (Thomson)

 

1969–1970

§Oedipus and the Sphinx (Marshall)

*Punch and Judy (Birtwistle)

*17 Days and 4 Minutes (Egk)

§ The Wanderer (Paul & Martha Boesing)

 

1968–1969

Così fan tutte (Mozart)

§ Horspfal (Stokes)

The Wise Woman and the King (Orff)

♠ Bluebeard’s Castle (Bartok)

♠ L’heure espanole (Ravel)

 

1967–1968

♠ The Magic Flute (Mozart)

The Man in the Moon (Haydn)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Britten)

 

1966–1967

§ Opera Without Elephants

The Mother of Us All (Thomson)

To Hellas

            –The Sorrows of Orpheus (Milhaud)

            –The Harpies (Blitzstein)

            –Socrates (Satrie)

Three Minute Operas (Milhaud/Hoppenot)

            –The Rape of Europa

            –The Abandonment of Ariadne

            –The Liberation of Theseus

♠ The Gondoliers (Sullivan)

 

1965–1966

The Abduction from the Seraglio (Mozart)

The Good Soldier Schweik (Kurka)

 

1964–1965

The Rape of Lucretia (Britten)

The Wise Woman and the King (Orff)

 

1963–1964

§The Masque of Angels (Argento)

The Masque of Venus and Adonis (Blow)

Albert Herring (Britten)

 

 

 

 

 

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