Northern Lights Music Festival starts today

A scene from ‘Gianni Schicchi,’
the Northern Lights Opera Production in July 2011

Tonight you can catch a gala opening night concert for the Northern Lights Music Festival, a midsummer celebration of opera and classical music in the heart of northern Minnesota’s Iron Range.

Tonight’s concert is at 7 p.m. in the Mesabi East auditorium in Aurora, Minnesota, hometown of founding artistic director Veda Zuponcic, an accomplished veteran of professional opera whose son is a world-renowned conductor.

The festival continues to grow, with concerts scheduled in Aurora, Chisholm, Virginia, Gilbert, Biwabik and Ely and new events featuring young musicians. A fully staged opera, La Boheme, will run through the event as well, which is a rare opportunity for Iron Range residents to see a form of art that was once a beloved staple of the region’s entertainment fare.

Do check this out, as it looks quite spectacular.

Read the full press release below the jump:

Northern Lights Music Festival Announces 2013 Season

The Northern Lights Music Festival announces its expanded season for July 2013 with classical music and opera presented in six Range Cities , including Chisholm, Virginia, Gilbert, Biwabik, Aurora and Ely. A Gala Opening Night Concert is scheduled for July 1st, and chamber music concerts, symphony concerts and a fully staged production of Puccini’s romantic opera, La Boheme, will fill out the roster of events, which runs through the 20th of July.

An international faculty and student body will present both professional and student performances almost daily throughout the Range. For the first year, the NLMF Orchestra Concert, which features winners of the NLMF Concerto Competition, will perform in both Aurora and Chisholm, on July 18 and 19.

One of the highlights of the season will be the opera production, La Boheme by Puccini.. A stellar cast, starring Scott Quinn as Rodolfo and Meghan Lindsey as Mimi, will be led by Maestro Gavriel Heine of St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre; and by the American stage director, Bill Fabris. With a new production designed by Phillip Graneto, costumes from Seattle Opera, and a full orchestra in the pit, this beloved opera, filled with recognizable arias, will delight audiences. This year, Master Carpenter Jeff Rock of Hoyt Lakes will build the set. Regional singers and children will perform in the memorable second act at the Café Momus. Maestro Heine, who is returning for the fourth season, recently was chosen as one of six participants in the prestigious Bruno Walter Conducting Preview held in Jacksonville, Florida by the League of American Orchestras.
Children or adults interested in singing in the opera chorus should contact Barbara Baldrica at

The Festive Fourth Concert will be held at Mesabi East Auditorium at 4:00 on July 4, and will feature pianist and Artistic Director of the festival, Veda Zuponcic, in a performance of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, with orchestra accompaniment. Also on the program is Dave Brubeck’s Points on Jazz for two pianos, performed by Ana Cristea of Moldova, and Alexei Ivanchenko of Ukraine.

On Sunday, July 7th, the young and young at heart will be treated to a full performance of Saint-Saens popular Carnival of the Animals with orchestra and the two piano team of Cassandra Sollitto and Amanda Liu. Iron Range legend Thomas Rukavina will don his safari clothes to narrate the program, bringing the Ogden Nash poetry to life.

Numerous chamber music concerts will be performed throughout the Range in the three week season, with works by Brahms, Mozart, Prokofiev, Babajanian and Poulenc scheduled to be performed in Aurora, Ely and at B’nai Abraham Synagogue in Virginia.

A special evening celebrating the 200th Birthday of Giuseppe Verdi will be held in Biwabik at St. John’s Catholic Church. The program will include his rarely heard String Quartet, and various opera arias sung by NLMF guest artists.

Pre-concert lectures by musicologist Maya Pritsker will precede many events, and Kids for Kids Concerts in area libraries will fill out the schedule.

For more information, go to the NLMF website: and click on Schedule.

The festival is funded by the generous contributions of numerous governmental agencies, corporations and private donors, including the Minnesota State Arts Board/Legacy Fund, which has provided funding to tour the opera and orchestra; the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council which has provided the funding to build the opera set; and gifts from AT&T Foundation, Deutschebank, Pepsico Foundation, Minnesota Power Foundation, Wells Fargo, MorganStanley, Cliffs Foundation, Gilbert Bank, Northern State Bank, Twin Metals and the Aurora Aluminum Can Fund.

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