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 Arts and International Exchange

Sieur Du Luth Festival Plans 2007 Offerings

Summer with an International Flavor

This past summer the Sieur Du Luth Summer Arts Festival brought entertainment and an international experience to Duluth. The summer offerings were so successful and attendance was so high, the festival will be offered again in 2007.

In July and August, UMD alumnus, Adam Hummel’s new comedy, Fooling The Beard, had its debut. The musical, Godspell was performed, and chamber music and jazz concerts were held.

The highlights of the festival were the opera experiences. Students from UMD and the U.S. joined twelve Italians to perform the Verdi classic, Rigoletto, and, in celebration of Mozart’s 250th birthday, Cosí fan tutte in concert. Guest soprano Christine Weidinger, noted for her “effortless technique, impeccable musicianship and fine stage presence” conducted master classes.

The twelve guests from Palermo, Sicily, added a new dimension to summertime Duluth. As Tim Roufs, anthropology professor, said, “What a great idea, to learn Italian opera from, and in cooperation with, Italians.” School of Fine Arts Dean Jack Bowman, said that it is important to hold international programs such as the Sieur Du Luth Summer Arts Festival. “We have potential to be a real international center for summer programming,” he said. “Young professionals in Italy and other parts of the world are looking to perform opera, just like UMD students.”

Cosimo Vassallo, the tenor who played Duke Fernando in Rigoletto, agreed. “Italy is different now because kids don’t listen to classical music and the audience for opera is shrinking. Young people now listen to pop music, rap, and especially American music; they try to copy American music. Even in Italy, it is difficult for the opera houses to find young people to perform opera,” he said.

UMD strives to create international experiences. When it does, everybody benefits. “Italian students, Korean singers, and a soprano from China interacted with each other, our students, and community people,” said Bowman. Sergio Cutrera, a violinist from Caltanissetta, Sicily, said, “The UMD summer program had a collegial orchestra. We were all musicians, and because we communicated through music, there wasn’t really a language barrier.” He did notice different styles of the two conductors, UMD’s Rudy Perrault and Maestro Gaetano Colajanni from Orchestra Accademia Musicale Siciliana of Palermo, Italy. “The conductor’s organizational styles differed, but both of them had very high standards for musical performance,” Cutrera said.

Bowman wants to build on the success of the summer program. “We are going to continue to enrich our local offerings,” he said. Next year, UMD will see students from France, Turkey, Russia, and Austria. Building on the success of 2006, and the large audiences for the operas, UMD is planning on two full operas for 2007. “We can also look forward to a Turkish-American cast in the musical, Chicago,” Bowman said. The University of Istanbul will send students to UMD for the 2007 performances and in 2008 UMD students will travel to Turkey to impart some American culture.

Participants in the Sieur Du Luth Summer Arts Festival learned a lot more than performance. “They learned
firsthand about the finest levels of international cooperation and good will,” Roufs said. “They learned about and from beautiful people, as fellow human beings, on stage and off. They learned in a real way, to be just a little more
optimistic about the very future of an increasingly complicated and ever more globalizing world.” And we were all reminded that music is a universal language.

UMD home page editor, Cheryl Reitan, creitan@d.umn.edu
NEW RELEASES, UMD media contact, Susan Latto, slatto@d.umn.edu, 218-726-8830

 

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