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Mill City Summer Opera plans its first non-Mill City season in St. Paul

Audrey Babcock performed the title role of "Carmen" in Mill City Summer Opera's 2018 outdoor staging in the courtyard of Mill City Museum (photo by Dan Norman)

Mill City Summer Opera announced plans for its 2020 season — its first since losing its lease at the historic Mill City Museum ruins, and the departure of artistic director Crystal Manich after just one season.

"Rigoletto," Verdi’s 1851 opera about a court jester seeking vengeance on the nobleman who seduced his daughter, will be staged for six performances July 17-23 at Paikka, a boutique events venue in St. Paul's Vandalia Tower, where both indoor and outdoor performing spaces will be used.

Last year’s experiment of staging a smaller, chamber opera at the Icehouse bar and restaurant in Minneapolis will also be repeated, with Mozart’s one-act comedy "The Impresario" running for four performances across two evenings (July 27 and 29).

Announcing MCSO’s ninth season, executive director Cory Johnson — one of two new appointments made in the wake of Manich’s departure in August — predicted it would be “our most imaginative yet.”

Stage director Katherine M. Carter has been hired to stage the new "Rigoletto" on the recommendation of MCSO’s artistic adviser Eric Einhorn, the other post-Manich appointment.

Carter has worked extensively in both theater and opera, for companies including Santa Fe Opera, Houston Grand Opera and Boston Lyric Opera.

Her "Rigoletto" will, the company says, be radical — updated to the present, and set at “a celebrity fashion product launch event” that frames the story “in the context of modern-day issues of consent and power.”

Conductor Emily Senturia will lead a scaled-down orchestra of 12 players.

The Vandalia Tower venue is “not the new permanent home” of Mill City Summer Opera, the company commented in its announcement, raising the prospect of another change of location for the 2021 season.

Jeff Foxworthy will headline second year of Minneapolis Comedy Festival

Organizers of the Minneapolis Comedy Festival are making good on their promise to return for a second year. And they're doing it with at least one of the biggest names in stand-up.

Jeff Foxworthy will be among the headliners when the event takes place June 15-21 in various downtown venues. He's scheduled to perform June 21 at the Orpheum Theatre.

OutBack Presents, which also puts on the Nashville Comedy Festival, has not announced any other big-name acts yet, but it appears Whitney Cummings will also be part of the mix, since her schedule has her performing at the Pantages Theatre June 19.

Her addition may help temper criticism the festival faced last year for not including enough high-profile female comics. The 2019 edition featured Seth Meyers, Bob Newhart and John Crist.

Jeanne Robertson and Bert Kreischer also have Minneapolis stops scheduled that week, with Robertson at the Pantages June 18 and Kreischer performing the same night at the Orpheum.

Tickets for the Kreischer show are already on sale at The other three shows go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday.