Out & About – Mill City Summer Opera in Minneapolis

Michael Yeshion Photography

Would you believe me if I told you that I haven’t cooked a thing (other than oatmeal) since June 28? Even though I’ve been able to post a few recipes I had in reserve, I’ve been away from the kitchen for almost a month!

I’ve been traveling “up north” and in Minneapolis playing with the Mill City Summer Opera. It’s so fun, I barely miss cooking. (Which for someone who cooks everyday, is saying a lot.)

mill city opera orchestra

So I thought I’d share some images with you of my summer opera adventures…

The REALLY good photos here come from the camera of Michael Yeshion who comes from New York each summer to work with the opera company. He very graciously allowed me to share some of his photos (otherwise you’d be getting lots of dog photos and views from my orchestra chair…both of which are still coming your way) so please visit his website and facebook page and show him a little blog loving.

As you can see in these photos, we play in a very unusual setting outdoors in the ruins of an old, historic flour mill on the banks of the Mississippi River.

Mill City Museum
The Mill City Museum seen here at street level (by my iPhone) is located in the old warehouse district in downtown Minneapolis. In its heyday, this was the world’s largest flour mill and it processed the flour for 1/3 of the world’s population.

photo 1 (1)

The original mill was built in 1847, destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1880, shut down in 1965, and almost destroyed by fire again in 1991. In 2003 it was reopened as an interactive museum and historic space.

I’m pretty sure that no one had music in mind when they rebuilt it but then my friend Karen Brooks got this crazy idea to start an opera company!


The view from the flute section. You can see how they have merged the old mill structure with a new building that houses the museum.

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Each year the production is built in the ruins of the courtyard and a stage is erected for the opera. The opera this year is Puccini’s Tosca, one of my absolute favorites.

Tosca - Michael Yeshion Photography

Tosca has everything you could want in an opera (or any music for that matter)…love, lust, great characters, amazing lush music, and drama. Lots of drama.

Every night our incredible cast of Jill Gardner (Tosca), Adam Diegel (Cavaradossi), and Jake Gardner (Scarpia) bring the goods in a big way. Spend a little time on youtube and you’ll quickly see why it is easy to gush about these singers.

I don’t want to ruin it for you if you’ve never seen the opera, but it’s no big surprise that in the end, with pretty much everything having gone wrong that could, Tosca leaps to her death. That means that our Tosca, the very brave Jill, actually falls backwards out of one of the windows of the old mill.



No one kills them quite like Puccini. (Except maybe Verdi…but that’s another opera for hopefully another year.)

When she lands safely on the mats below, she gets a congratulatory martini from the crew. That’s when I knew we should be friends.

While I’m in Minneapolis for the opera, I am very graciously being hosted by my friends Nancy & Brian and their awesome dog Hugo.


How could anyone resist this face? I’m pretty sure they are going to be checking my luggage before I leave to prevent dognapping.

So here’s a big shout to the city of Minneapolis. Yes, for a good part of the year it looks like this…


but in the summer you get THIS!

boats on lake harriet

If you plan ahead for next season, you can come to opera at the mill! (Hurry when tickets go on sale though because it has sold out quickly for all 3 seasons.)

I haven’t even talked about the restaurants! That’s a whole other post of gushing…

Many thanks to my friends and colleagues at the opera for a wonderful summer, to Nancy & Brian for putting up with a flute player in the house, and especially to this fuzzy faced guy.


Now, back to the kitchen!

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5 Responses

  1. What a fantastic AND unusual venue; love it!!!! You lead such an interesting life….going back and forth during the different seasons. Nice that you have friends who will host you; surely the dog loves all the extra attention too!

    1. Yes, I have VERY accommodating and understanding friends. Anyone who will put up with my nonsense for weeks on end (who is not legally required to by marriage) gets a big gold star!

  2. I confess I’ve never been to an opera. (I find that odd considering that my BFF is an opera singer, although I guess it’s allowable since she is in Germany and I am not.) I am going to remedy this lack by seeing Carmen in a couple weeks.

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