2017 Northern Lights Music Festival to feature Tchaikovsky’s ‘Eugene Onegin’

Gelena Gaskarova

The Northern Lights Music Festival will take place in Aurora and other Iron Range towns this July 2-23. The organization recently announced its lineup, including its featured opera production, Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin.”

I wrote about the Northern Lights Music Festival in a 2014 column, exploring our region’s history as it relates to classical music:

Every Iron Range immigrant, no matter their nationality, shared the desire that life might be better for their sons and daughters.

And for a better life, these children would need exposure to the best of the humanities. That’s why schools were so important to early Iron Range communities, and why you would find opera houses and theaters in all the major towns of the region, along with a rich tapestry of musical experiences.

This tradition might have faded with our population losses, but the spirit is not forgotten. That’s why for three weeks every summer, northern Minnesota’s Iron Range becomes home to some of the world’s best classical music talent.

Veda Zuponcic, an Aurora native who went on to become an accomplished music director in New York, founded the Northern Lights Music Festival as a way of honoring that tradition. This will be the 14th season.

Here’s the press release, with more details:

With Tchaikovsky’s opera, Eugene Onegin as its centerpiece, the Northern Lights Music Festival announces its fourteenth season, with classical music and opera presented through the month of July in six Range Cities, including Aurora, Chisholm, Virginia, Ely, Gilbert, Hibbing, plus, for the first time, Bemidji and Grand Marais. The NLMF Opening Concert in Aurora is scheduled for Sunday, July 2, and will feature performances by the NLMF artists and members of the Eugene Onegin cast, including a performance of the Schumann Piano Quintet performed by pianist Veda Zuponcic, violinist Mikhail Kopelman, cellist Yosef Feigelson, and colleagues Natalia Moiseeva and Matt Williams. The Festive Fourth Concert, has become an Aurora tradition: the NLMF Orchestra, conducted by Gavriel Heine will perform Copland’s Appalachian Spring, accompany the opera cast in opera and Broadway hits; and conclude with everyone’s favorite Tchaikovsky work—the 1812 Overture.

NLMF Opera will present three performances of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, starring Gelena Gaskarova, from Russia’s Mariinsky Theatre as Tatiana, and Anton Belov as the title character, Eugene Onegin. NLMF Music Director, Gavriel Heine, of Russia’s Mariinsky Theatre will conduct; and Maxim Mikhailov will return to direct.. The opera will be performed in Aurora, Chisholm and Ely on July 14, 16 and 17.

Sung in Russian, with subtitles in English, Tchaikovsky’s passionate score brings to life Pushkin’s immortal novel. Love, rejection, despair and a tragic duel unfold in this operatic masterpiece. The new production is designed by Bart Healy and built by local Master Carpenters Arthur Cherro and Alvin Rintala of Aurora. With beautiful costumes and a full orchestra in the pit, this wonderfully lyric work, filled with high emotion, great chorus scenes and operatic challenges, will enthrall audiences.

The NLMF Orchestra will present a pair of concerts this year in Chisholm and in Aurora, featuring the winner of the Osaka Japan Music Competition: cellist Ryot Kubota; plus the winners of the NLMF Concerto Competition.

An Evening of Opera Scenes, performed by the NLMF Opera Apprentice Program will be sung in Grand Marais, Ely and Bemidji in July 15, 19 and 23. A full schedule of chamber music concerts, symphony concerts, and Kids for Kids performances at area Public Libraries will fill out the exciting and diverse schedule of events.

Returning this year is a series of Pre-concert lectures before selected events, including Eugene Onegin. In a partnership with Minnesota Public Radio, Steve Seel will share his insights about the operas with the public, together with musicologist May Pritsker. For more information, go to the NLMF website: www.northernlightsmusic.org and click on Schedule. This event is sponsored by the Hilligoss Family Foundation.

An art exhibit, featuring Iron Country, photographs by Vance Gellert, will open in the
Lobby of Mesabi East’s Veda Zuponcic Auditorium on July 2, at 3:00 pm. The artist will
be available to sign his books during the Meet the Artist reception.
Local libraries, including Aurora, Gilbert, Chisholm, Virginia, Ely and Hibbing will host “Kids for Kids” concerts, featuring performances by high school participants from across the United States.

Northern Lights Music Festival has received support from Explore MN Tourism; the Minnesota State Arts Board; Iron Range Resource and Rehabilitation Board; the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council and corporations and private donors, including the Jeno Paulucci Foundation, The Donald Gardner Trust for the Humanities; Minnesota Power Foundation, Minnesota Energy, Lake Country Power, Gilbert Bank, Polymet, Wells Fargo, and many other generous contributors. Tickets go on sale after May 15. For more information, call 218 780 2292 or check the website www.northernlightsmusic.org. Tickets are also at the door; at Bradach Lumber in Aurora; at Kess Gallery in Ely; and at Valentini’s Restaurant in Chisholm.

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