Interview: David Lefkowich of SUOR ANGELICA at Out Of The Box Opera

This production will run June 26 - 29, 2024

By: May. 29, 2024
Interview: David Lefkowich of SUOR ANGELICA at Out Of The Box Opera
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Suor Angelica

Out of The Box and the Basilica of Saint Mary present a co-production of Giacomo Puccini's opera "Suor Angelica." This performance will take audiences on an immersive journey through the breathtaking Basilica of Saint Mary, a historic landmark in Minneapolis.

The production will run from June 26 to June 29, 2024, at the Basilica of Saint Mary in downtown Minneapolis.

We chat with artistic director David Lefkowich about this production. 

How did you go about in selecting the location for Suor Angelica?

I can see the Basilica of St. Mary from my Minneapolis condo. During the long days of the COVID lockdown I started to imagine staging an opera in this magnificent building. I connected with Johan Van Parys at the Basilica, and he shared my excitement. As we discussed the possibilities, the grandeur of Puccini’s Suor Angelica seemed to fit perfectly with the majestic aura of the Basilica — blending two seemingly disparate ideas into one. It took a year of persistence to obtain permission from the archdiocese, followed by another year of meticulous planning to bring everything together. The Basilica had never presented an opera before, and although I’ve held rehearsals in churches, I’ve never actually staged an opera in one before. This collaboration represented a rare opportunity to transform a familiar landmark into an immersive artistic experience— to explore a sacred space that is a familiar, iconic part of the Minneapolis skyscape, and yet many have never set foot inside the Basilica. Above all, I was eager to share this space with the community. It isn’t just about putting on a performance; it is about inviting people to step inside a cherished building and witness something truly unique. Suor Angelica at the Basilica of St. Mary is more than just an opera; it's a testament to the power of bold artistic choices and a willingness to embrace the unknown.

 What is your favorite aria in Suor Angelica?

There’s only one, and it’s absolutely stunning. Senza Mamma is the singular, poignant moment that serves as the emotional core of the opera. It encapsulates the heart-wrenching struggle of a character facing the most challenging circumstance imaginable, and Alexandra Loutsion's rendition is nothing short of extraordinary. With a voice that captivates and resonates, Loutsion brings nuance and a depth of emotion to her performance. Her exceptional talent has been showcased on renowned stages such as the San Francisco Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the Houston Grand Opera, with works by Wagner, Strauss, and many others. Her return to Puccini — where her career began — is a truly special occasion, and hearing her gorgeous voice breathe life into this masterpiece is a rare and exquisite treat.

 

What is your favorite moment in Suor Angelica?

It would have to be the climactic scene in the nave of the Basilica. The simplicity with which the piece begins evolves into a grand spectacle by its conclusion, epitomizing the essence of grand opera. In this final scene, the audience, performers, and orchestra unite with the Basilica chorus, creating an overwhelming and ecstatic theatrical experience.

 Here, amidst the awe-inspiring grandeur of the Basilica, emotion, music, and story converge into a singular artistic vision. It's a moment of transcendence, where the boundaries between reality and performance blur, and the audience is swept away by the sheer beauty and intensity of the experience. This scene stands as a perfect example of the transformative potential of opera, showcasing the capacity of art to uplift, inspire, and unite.

            

 What do you hope audiences take away from seeing Suor Angelica?

Watching opera can feel like a passive experience; you sit back, watch, and let the performance unfold before you. However, this production immerses the audience in our heroine's journey as it travels through three distinct locations within the Basilica. This interactive approach invites viewers to engage with the opera on a deeper, more personal level than traditional stagings typically allow.

 The goal is to make Angelica's journey relatable to the audience while providing them with an unparalleled artistic experience. Suor Angelica is a remarkably accessible opera; its themes are easily understood even by those unfamiliar with Italian, and the music beautifully underscores the emotions portrayed on stage. There's never a sense of detachment; instead, the audience feels intimately connected to the story and its characters.

 Suor Angelica is often presented as part of a trilogy and rarely as a standalone piece. This production offers a rare opportunity to experience it in isolation, allowing audiences to fully appreciate its beauty and significance on its own terms. It's a chance to witness opera in a way that's both familiar and entirely fresh, promising an unforgettable journey of emotion, music, and storytelling.

 Any favorite local spots? (Restaurants, places, etc).

There is an amazing new spot nearby, Ga Noi, which last year made the New York Times “Top 50 Restaurants” list. And of course, there’s also the Loring Park classic, Lurcat. I also love Lions Tap, Spyhouse Coffee, the downtown Mill Ruins area, and really, anywhere with a view of the stunning Minneapolis skyline. 

Thank you David for your time.

For more ticket and show information, please click the ticket link button below.

Photo courtesy of David Lefkowich




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