WINONA, Minn. — The Page Series at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota will present Mixed Precipitation’s picnic operetta, “Philemon and Baucis: Planet in Peril,” Sunday, Sept. 17, at 3 p.m. at Winona’s Unity Park. The free “Off the Page” event is the first of the 2017-2018 Page Series.

An edible opera adventure for the whole family, the Picnic Operetta is a nine-year tradition celebrating the harvest with a unique blend of music, horticulture, food, and storytelling. This year’s production features the music of Haydn, including “The Creation” and one of the composer’s rarely performed works, the marionette opera “Philemon and Baucis.” Re-imagined as a romantic, space-aged adventure, Haydn’s music is interspersed with songs by the glam rock band Queen to create a hybrid theatrical performance.

Returning from space exploration in a far off galaxy, space cadets Jupiter and Mercury return to earth to find humanity decimated by plague. Surviving citizens are cold, suspicious, and hooked on banality. The gods-in-disguise prowl about town looking for someplace to unveil their cabaret extravaganza, and no one will give these gods a chance but the downtrodden tavern of Philemon and Baucis. The family-friendly production explores fear, displacement, and hospitality to strangers from another world in addition to conservation and environmental protection.

With live musical accompaniment and a cast including veterans of Houston Grand Opera, Minnesota Opera, and the Rose Ensemble, Mixed Precipitation’s 70-minute production offers a taste of classical music and opera while also letting loose with the ballads of Freddy Mercury and Queen. During the performance, audiences will be treated to small bites from chef Nick Schneider, who will work with Dream Acres farm to source produce for the menu. Audience members with larger appetites are welcome to bring their own picnics as well.

Members of the creative team will give an artist talk at the Page Theatre on Thursday, Sept. 14, at 12:15 p.m. This free talk will introduce audiences to the production, how the creative team develops the show, and the art forms they employ, such as mime and opera.

The Picnic Operetta is free and suitable for audience members of all ages. In an effort to anticipate crowd size, the Page Series asks those interested in attending to please RSVP online (RSVP link available on Facebook.com/PageTheatre or at pagetheatre.org). Unity Park is located at 860 Parks Ave., behind Winona Health, and is accessible via Mankato Avenue and Highway 61. Additional information about the production, cast, and creative team is available at pagetheatre.org.

About the Performance Center

The goal of the Performance Center at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota is to be Southeastern Minnesota’s premiere performing arts center, bringing artists and community together through imaginative programming, unique collaborations, a welcoming atmosphere, and exceptional service. The Performance Center strives to be the venue through which artists and community connect, where audiences can experience a variety of cultures through quality performances of music, theatre and dance, and discover the relevance of the arts in their daily lives.

Page Series activities are made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

 About Mixed Precipitation

Mixed Precipitation creates unexpected theatrical experiences through unique partnerships and festive events that inspire social engagement. Since 2009, they’ve been bringing Minnesota the Picnic Operetta—an annual harvest celebration that brings new life to old stories through music, movement, gardens, food, and visual extravaganza. Previous productions have included imaginative adaptations of Beethoven, Mozart, Handel and Purcell. The Picnic Operetta has toured the metro and greater Minnesota, performing in community gardens, urban farms, orchards, and vineyards. Additionally, they have presented curated evenings of site-specific theater and dance including Mpls Pinter Studies, and contemporary operas like Tonya and Nancy: The Opera. They have also created work for the Minnesota Orchestra Crescendo Project.

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