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Week 3: Lakes Area Music Festival to offer opera and ballet

The Lakes Area Music Festival will perform "Opera is an Enchanting Dream" this weekend and "Daydreams" next week for its upcoming shows. Lines from the character Bottom in Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream"--"I have had a most rare vision....

Soprano Abigail Dueppen plays the fairy queen in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” which will be performed 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Tornstrom Auditorium in Brainerd. (Submitted)
Soprano Abigail Dueppen plays the fairy queen in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” which will be performed 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Tornstrom Auditorium in Brainerd. (Submitted)

The Lakes Area Music Festival will perform "Opera is an Enchanting Dream" this weekend and "Daydreams" next week for its upcoming shows.

Lines from the character Bottom in Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream"-"I have had a most rare vision. I have had a dream"-will capture the atmosphere of the play in this weekend's concerts. John Taylor Ward, the festival's associate artistic director, plays Bottom in Benjamin Britten's opera based on the play, to be performed 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Tornstrom Auditorium in Brainerd.

Then at 7 p.m. Aug. 17, "Daydreams," will be the Lakes Area Music Festival's first venture into ballet, also to be held on the Tornstrom stage.

The weekend's opera concerts will include technical elements never before seen on the stage of Tornstrom, including original pieces designed by award winning projectionist, Brittany Merenda. It will be sung in English, with helpful English supertitles.

The much larger cast than in previous festival operas is divided into three groups that Ward describes this way in a news release:

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The fairies: "The music of the fairies is truly otherworldly, with pitched percussion and magically mercurial changes in timbre and style."

The rustics: "The rustics are accompanied by low strings and woodwinds, with folk-inspired melodies."

The royalty: "They lie somewhere in between; they sound like what we would expect operatic lovers to be."

The festival's operas have been so popular that there are again two performances. Minnesota Public Radio host John Birge will lead pre-concert interviews a half-hour before each performance with conductor Andrew Altenbach and stage director JJ Hudson.

"The festival's opera productions give the nation's top emerging talents a chance to sink their teeth into the great roles of the operatic repertoire. Our team works to bring the unique magic of opera to the lakes area," Ward said in a news release.

The Aug. 17 concert will consist of ballet dancers from the St. Paul Ballet, who will depict the story of Claude Debussy's "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun." The music is based on a poem by Stephane Mallarmé in which a mythological flute-playing creature, half-human and half-goat, wakes up from an afternoon nap and recounts the morning he has spent in the company of nubile nymphs.

Debussy's impressionistic music illustrates the faun's sleepy longing. Despite the fact that the piece was composed in 1894, it still sounds fresh. Modernist musician Pierre Boulez regarded this piece as the beginning of modern music.

The ballet dancers are Zoe Emilie Henrot, Nicole Brown, Michelle Ludwig and Preston Stockert. St. Paul Ballet's appearance is sponsored by Just for Kix.

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Kevin Pearl will be the oboe soloist in Richard Strauss's "Concerto in D major for Oboe and Small Orchestra." Pearl is the newly appointed assistant principal oboe of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. The concerto is described as one of the most demanding in the oboe repertoire in Emily Hogstad's program notes.

Hogstad states in the release that the concerto retains the character of an elegant pastorale.

The concert will conclude with Franz Schubert's "Unfinished Symphony."

Andrew Altenbach will conduct and will give a pre-concert lecture at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 17.

The Lakes Area Music Festival, an annual summer series attracting some of the country's leading instrumental and vocal performers, takes place July 31 to Aug. 21 at Tornstrom Auditorium and are are free of charge.

Go to www.lakesareamusic.org for more information.

Lakes Area Music Festival Associate Director John Taylor Ward plays Bottom in Benjamin Britten’s opera based on the play, to be performed 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Tornstrom Auditorium in Brainerd. (Submitted)
Lakes Area Music Festival Associate Director John Taylor Ward plays Bottom in Benjamin Britten’s opera based on the play, to be performed 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Tornstrom Auditorium in Brainerd. (Submitted)

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