Love Songs and Arias and BSO “History Meets Music” and “Ajax in Iraq” at the Wild Rose Theater.

Loon Opera Company fundraiser extended the deadline to 10 a.m. today, Wednesday, Feb. 8. Social hour will begin at 6 p.m. on Saturday, February 11 at the Hampton Inn and Suites. Tickets are $50 each and checks should be made out to Loon Opera Company and sent to 1007 Bemidji Ave., Bemidji, MN 56601. Any questions can be directed to Abe at 218-368-8805 or check here for website.

The list of singers for Love Songs and Arias includes Betsy Downs, Julia Lamon, Michael Lamon, Sara Wabrowetz, Linda Wagner and Special Guest Allison La Pointe, a mezzo-soprano who will be singing one of the lead roles in the upcoming “Madama Butterfly” by Puccini. Abe Hunter, the musical director will be playing piano. If you cannot make the evening, please consider making a contribution toward the upcoming production.

If singing is not your interest, there will be a free lecture by Clay Jenkinson at 7 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 11 in Thompson Recital Hall. Jenkinson will speak about the American physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer who is considered to be the father of the atomic bomb. Upon detonation of the first bomb (Manhattan Project) in the New Mexico desert, Oppenheimer was said to have quoted, “”Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”(Bhagavad Gita) for he apparently realized the uncounted consequences of his discovery. Jenkinson will speak about Oppenheimer and how he spent the rest of his days making sure that no other country would detonate another such bomb.

On Sunday at 3 p.m., Beverly Everett will lower the baton to begin the fourth concert of the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra’s 2011-12 season, “History meets music: Up close and Unplugged.” Historical re-enactor Clay Jenkinson will introduce the audience to J. Robert Oppenheimer, his times and his music with guest soloist tenor Brad Bradshaw, BSU student Matt Seiberg on the piano, and slides relating to work on the atomic bomb.

Bradshaw returns to the BSO to sing the Holy Sonnets of John Donne by Benjamin Britten which were a favorite of Oppenheimer. It is said that “Batter My Heart, Three Person’d God” is a source of the naming of the Los Alamos site, “Trinity.” Bradshaw will also sing some pop songs that Jenkinson will thread through the fabric of his talk.

One of Oppenheimer’s colleagues on the Manhattan Project was Tom Lehrer who was a mathematician and musician. Matt Seiberg, as Lehrer, will play some piano solos much as Lehrer frequently did to entertain the group.

All of the chamber music on the program relates in some way to Oppenheimer. His favorite composer was Stravinsky; the legend that Oppenheimer was the American Prometheus is presented by Beethoven’s “Prometheus Overture and other surprise pieces to complement and supplement Jenkinson’s interpretation of Oppenheimer, the man.

A post-concert talk back with Beverly Everett and Clay Jenkinson will be a chance for the audience to ask questions. Click here for the BSO website and goggle Clay Jenkinson “historian” for many sites regarding his work.

Tickets for the concert are $20 for adults, $15 senior citizens and $10 for college students with a valid ID. Children in grades K through 12 will be admitted free. Ticket outlets are Lueken’s North and Brigid’s Cross Irish Pub and Restaurant.

Bemidji audiences will see the opening of a new play by the Mask and Rose Women’s Theater Collective next week that will bring a pressing issue to the forefront; the returning veterans from the recent wars who have had a hard time making the transition back into civilian life. “Ajax in Iraq” is a complicated play because the audience bounces back into Greek mythology with the warrior Ajax of the Trojan War as written by Sophocles and modern day Iraq and the female soldier A.J. at the center of the modern story.

We meet Gertrude Bell at the beginning of the play to talk about how the modern day Iraq was formed during the breakup of the Ottoman Empire after WWI. Athena, the goddess of war, oversees the action in the play and she is played by Taous Khazem. TrekNorth student Ivan Smith is Ajax and Odysseus (Jesse Whiting) is his commanding officer. Ajax is not treated like a hero and is driven to madness and then death. His counterpart in the modern Iraq War is A.J. (Kat Lavelle), a hero in her own right, and she is also betrayed by her commanding officer. The play explores the timeless struggle soldiers face in trying to make sense of war. Much of the play is double and triple cast for Cate Belleveau plays Bell and then a medic named Deborah. Chuck Deeter is an American captain, therapist, character and minister. Andor Loftus is A.J.’s sergeant which he plays to a biting edge and Mike Harden is busy with five different characters ranging from Teucer to the Chorus–a fixture of Greek tragedies. Local musican turned actor Aaron Tank, Cody Reilly, Meghan Doughterty and Jadie Hunt round out the cast of characters.

If cutting edge theater is your wont, don’t miss this production! There will be a dinner theater before two of the shows (5:30 on Feb. 18 and 12:30 on Feb. 19) and the final production will be at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 20 (no dinner that date). If you just want to see the play without dinner, figure on it beginning 1.5 hours after the dinner times and the ticket is $10. The $30 ticket price is consumer friendly for admission to the show and a gourmet dinner by Reed Olson of the Wild Hare Bistro of rice, lamb, traditional flat bread, salad and dessert served family style. There will also be a vegetarian choice. Tickets are on sale now at the Wild Hare,, 523 Minnesota Ave, NW and seating for the two dinner nights is limited. Veterans from the Gulf and Iraq War will be admittted free to the performances.

First Friday art offerings, holiday shows to open, literary news and just some catching up.

If the weather holds out ,or rather if it stops snowing for any length of time, this month’s First Friday activities will be very festive. Do you know that there will be puppies and dogs for adoption at Gallery North this Friday. There will be a fund raiser for Whipstaff Animal Rescue with greeting cards for sale with illustrations from “Twas the Week Before Christmas,” from a dog’s point of view. Author Mary Knox Johnson and artist Caroline Reil will be there to meet and greet on Friday.  I stopped for coffee at the Wild Hare Bistro today and saw the menu for this Friday’s Wine Bar and Dinner-WOW!! A couple of shows open this weekend, “Gasman Recollections, A Christmas Carol” at the Historic Chief Theater and “Ole and Lena’s It’s a Wonderful Life” at Long Lake Theater. Ticket information is listed in the Dec. 1, Wednesday arts column in the print version of the Bemidji Pioneer and under Entertainment, on-line version.  The Bemidji Chorale will hold its annual holiday concert on Sunday, Dec. 5 with some new voices, three youngsters, and some solos with oboe and violin. The full information can be found on feature article in the Friday, Nov. 26 hard copy and on-line edition of the Bemidji Pioneer.

Last week I had the opportunity to interview Prudence Johnson about her upcoming program this Saturday,   “The Golden Age of Radio.” The full information can be found on feature article in Sunday, Nov. 27 hard copy and on-line edition of the Bemidji Pioneer. Remember seating is limited so get your reservation in early.

The Madrigal Dinners will begin this weekend at BSU. Tickets can be had at the box office located on the second floor of Bangsberg Hall;  9 a.m. to noon and 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. There is only one matinee, this Sunday, Dec. 5 at 5 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 25 at the Wild Rose Theater, Steve Saari and DeeJay Arens of Saarens Productions, Fred Thomas of Minnesota Folklore Theater, Ernie Rall of Bemidji Community Theater and I met to talk about the possibility of having a regional community theater group “information sharing organization.” This was just an introductory meeting with the promise of more to come. People like Cheryl Winnett and Mary Knox Johnson have been trying to get local performing arts organization interested in finding a performing arts space here in Bemidji. Perhaps, there is some light at the end of this tunnel, keep your fingers crossed!

A very special thanks to a mentor from Grand Forks—Mike Brue from the GF Herald, a sister publication. Mike has been generous with his advice, wise counsel and support since the beginning—thanks Mike, couldn’t have  done this without you.  That’s all she wrote, folks.

calendar and current events

Thanks to all of you who have sent in messages and dates for your upcoming events.  I am still working on how to set up the calendar as well as put in some video and/or pics of current productions—-so please bear with me.   Patt Rall

Calendar listings so far are:

January 16 and 17, 2010—-"Hanson’s Gill or Minnesota Nice on Ice," conceived by Cate Belleveau and written by Teri Herrington.  The setting of the play is Lake Bemidji, time is during Polar Daze and will feature the mayor, Richard Lehman. 

March 20, 2010—–TrekNorth Art Festival. Artists wishing to participate or to ask questions, contact Kirby Ganske at TrekNorth, 444-1888,ex.2 or

May 20, 2010– from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m., (Thursday)-Stars in the Street, a celebration of the start of the 60th season of the Paul Bunyan Playhouse.  Always a fun event, venues and ticket price will be supplied at a later date. The Paul Bunyan Playhouse is located in the  historic Chief Theater, 315 Beltrami Ave., Bemidji 56601

Here are some stills from today’s opening performance of "Pirates of Penzance" now playing at the Paul Bunyan Playhouse.  Show times are 7:30 p.m., Thurs. Nov. 19 through Saturday, Nov. 21 and 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 22. Tickets are at Iverson’s Corner Drug, K.K. Thompson at the Mall and at the box office one hour before show times.  Tickets for this family friendly show are $12 for adults and $6 for students.