Lakes Area Musical Festival hosts upcoming concerts

The Lakes Area Music Festival will feature "La Boheme" opera by Giacomo Puccini in two performances and a classic symphony concert inspired by Franz Joseph Haydn in the coming week.

JJ Hudson
JJ Hudson

The Lakes Area Music Festival will feature "La Boheme" opera by Giacomo Puccini in two performances and a classic symphony concert inspired by Franz Joseph Haydn in the coming week.

"La Boheme" opera, known as one of the most beloved of all operas, will take the stage at 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday; and the Haydn concert will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday. All three concerts will be held at Tornstrom Auditorium in Brainerd. The concerts are free, but donations to support the festival are appreciated.

"La Boheme" is a story of love and loss involving impoverished "bohemian" artists in 19th century Paris.

Director JJ Hudson will be interviewed on stage by Minnesota Public Radio's Steve Staruch one-half hour before each performance.

Mimi is the beautiful young milliner for whom the opera is named. She will be played by Amanda Kingston, who will also sing the role this year at Opera Columbus. She has done opera and concert performances all over the country and was a regional finalist in the Metropolitan Opera Council auditions.


Rudolfo, the young writer who falls in love with Mimi, will be played by Mackenzie Whitney, an Iowa native and resident artist at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia.

John Taylor Ward, the festival's associate artistic director, will sing the role of Marcello, a carefree artist who is one of Rudolfo's best friends. Ward captivated previous festival audiences with his roles as the wicked witch in "Hansel and Gretel," the wicked stepfather in "Cinderella" and the bumbling Papageno in "The Magic Flute."

Musetta, Marcello's vivacious and fickle girlfriend, sings a waltz during the festive Christmas Eve scene that is one of many melodies that will linger in audience members' minds. She will be played by Abigail Dueppen, who was last year's Gretel. Dueppen, who has done a wide array of opera and concert performances, has degrees from the Eastman School of Music and the University of Houston School Of Music. Currently, she studies with world-renowned soprano Ruth Ann Swenson.

Other young Bohemians will be sung by Andrew Lovato, Nicholas Nelson and Lawrence Weller. Members of the Northfield Youth Chorus under director Elizabeth Shipley also will participate. Andrew Altenbach will once again be the conductor.

The public is also invited to an open rehearsal of the opera at 1 p.m. today, Aug. 6, at Tornstrom Auditorium.

Conductor Andrew Altenbach will give a pre-concert lecture at 6:30 p.m., before Wednesday's concert.

Composer Sergei Prokofiev was an iconoclastic composer who had shown no signs of embracing old ways of doing things. However, he chose Haydn as the model for his first major work, the "Classical Symphony" of 1917.

"The result is a work clearly influenced by the wit, style and language of his classical forbearer (Haydn), with a snarky modern twist," according to program annotator Emily Hogstad.


The work will open the program.

Mozart, who was a protégé of Haydn, played both the violin and the viola. The two instruments have major solo roles in his beautiful "Sinfonia Concertante."

The violinist, Chloe Fedor, in her fifth season at the festival, has degrees from the Eastman and Juilliard schools of music. The violist, Samantha Rodriguez, in her seventh season, also holds degrees from the Eastman School. She is a member of the Rochester (NY) Philharmonic Orchestra and an adjunct professor of viola at SUNY Geneseo, where she plays with the Tremont Quartet.

The program will conclude with "Variations on a Theme by Haydn" by Brahms, a piece with "gorgeous orchestration and gripping variations," according to Hogstad. However, recent musical scholars have said that Haydn most likely did not compose the theme after all.

If not Haydn, who did compose it? For the present, no one knows.

Following Wednesday's concert, audience members are welcome to attend an Afterglow gathering at Prairie Bay Restaurant in Baxter.

The public also is invited to an open rehearsal, led by violist Samantha Rodriguez, at 1 p.m. Monday at Tornstrom.

The Lakes Area Music Festival, an annual summer series attracting some of the


country's leading orchestral and vocal performers, started July 26 and will run through Aug. 16. All performances will take place at Tornstrom Auditorium in Brainerd and are free of charge. About 120 musicians and vocalists will again be in the Brainerd lakes area as guest artists.

Go to for more information.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Five Wings Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Andrew Altenbach
Andrew Altenbach

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