See more of the story

When COVID-19 cast a deep, dark shadow over the Twin Cities arts scene and shut down all live performance, Minnesota Opera stood out as the local performing arts organization that most imaginatively found a way to create productions for an online audience.

But Tuesday's announcement of the company's 2024-25 season serves as a reminder that our arts presenters aren't out of the woods yet. Minnesota Opera will present only three full-scale productions at St. Paul's Ordway Music Theater, a venue at which the company would customarily stage five each season before the pandemic.

There were five operas on the Minnesota Opera calendar as recently as last season, three at the Ordway and two smaller-scale stagings at the Luminary Arts Center in Minneapolis' North Loop neighborhood. But that number shrunk to four for the current season, unless you count as two the upcoming double feature of one-act operas at the Luminary, Leonard Bernstein's "Trouble in Tahiti" and Christopher Weiss' "Service Provider" (March 9-23).

"We did actually come up with a new strategic plan last year," Minnesota Opera president Ryan Taylor said Friday. "Part of what we decided was: We can't go smaller than three big shows at the Ordway. If we do that, we're not the same company we've been. We're not in recovery; we're in some sort of transformation. And so we did put that flag in the ground. And part of our decisionmaking process this year was doing something bigger with our season-opening gala."

That will be the Sept. 28 "Glam Jam" benefit concert featuring flamboyant drag performer Monet X Change, last here for Minnesota Opera's production of "The Daughter of the Regiment."

Then it's off into the season, which mixes a local premiere with one of opera's most popular comedies and a less-often-produced tale of tragic romance, all presented at the Ordway Music Theater. Here's what's planned:

'Romeo and Juliet'

There have been many adaptations of Shakespeare's drama about love between teenagers in rival families, but perhaps no composer better captured the full flower of passion as eloquently as French romantic Charles Gounod. His sumptuous 1867 creation (with a libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré) will feature two emerging stars of the art form in soprano Jasmine Habersham as Juliet and tenor Evan LeRoy Johnson as Romeo. (Nov. 2-10)

'The Snowy Day'

Yes, they've made an opera of Ezra Jack Keats' little children's book about playing in the snow. Composer Joel Thompson and librettist Andrea Davis Pinkney's adaptation received raves when it premiered at Houston Grand Opera in 2021. While we hope that next winter won't be as bereft of the fluffy stuff as this one's been, it sounds like a lovely celebration of childhood joy. Singing the part of little Peter is soprano Flora Hawk. (Feb. 8-16)

'The Barber of Seville'

There are few more sprightly scores in the operatic canon than Gioachino Rossini's feast of sonic delights. Bringing back the vibrant set and costumes Minnesota Opera last used in 2009, it's a rollicking, fast-paced farce of romance and trickery that's so popular that Minnesota Opera will present it for a fortnight, with two casts trading off performances. Baritones Takaoki Onishi and David Wolfe alternate in the title role. (May 3-18, 2025)

On a smaller scale, a "MNOP+" recital series at the Luminary Arts Center will feature young opera singers whose stars are on the ascent. (Dec. 18, 2024-March 8, 2025) And Minnesota Opera will join with the Ordway, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Schubert Club to present a concert version of Terence Blanchard's powerful jazz-infused opera, "Fire Shut Up in My Bones," with Blanchard and his band, the E-Collective, and the Turtle Island String Quartet. (Feb. 23, 2025)

Season ticket packages are available, starting at $66, at or 612-333-6669. Tickets to individual performances will be available in September.

Rob Hubbard is a Twin Cities classical music writer. Reach him at