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 Opera Comes to Glensheen

Count & Susanna
Count Almaviva (Greg Dokken) and Susanna (Jennifer Graupmann).

Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro at Glensheen, the Beautiful Congdon Estate

This summer, Glensheen mansion will be transformed into one of the most sumptuous opera sets ever imaged when it presents Mozart’s famous comic opera Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro). This is the first fully staged opera to be performed at Glensheen. UMD School of Fine Arts Dean Jack Bowman, who will be conducting the orchestra, describes this event as “truly magical.”

Performances will be held Monday, August 3 – Wednesday, August 5; Sunday, August 9 – Tuesday, August 11. All shows are at 7:00 pm. Tickets are $50. Reservations can be made by calling Glensheen at 218-726-8910 or toll free at 1-888-454-GLEN (4536). Seating is limited so call today. Glensheen, the historic Congdon mansion, is located at 3300 London Road in Duluth. For more information, visit

Remarkable Setting

Living Room
The Congdon living room becomes the Countess's boudoir in Glensheen's The Marriage of Figaro.

Rachel Inselman, UMD School of Fine Art's Department of Music associate professor of voice, is directing the production. She says one of the most unique aspects of this particular production is that it will be a progressive performance. "Each of the four acts will be performed at a different space within Glensheen. In a sense, the audience will get a tour of the house while they are enjoying the performance. It will be a wonderfully unique experience for audience members," Inselman said.

The recreation room, the living room, the carriage house, and the terrace overlooking beautiful Lake Superior will each be used, providing splendid backdrops for the performance. After each act, the singers, musicians, and the audience will move to a new location for the next act.

Another highlight of this production will be the proximity of the audience to the singers and the musicians. “This will be a very intimate performance. The audience will be right there, so they won’t miss a second of the comedy. This is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said assistant director, Emily Hagen, who graduated this past May from UMD with a master’s degree in music in vocal performance.

Remarkable Performers

Hagen, who is in charge of props and working as a liaison to the costumer, is also performing the role of Cherubino in the opera. She says The Marriage of Figaro was a perfect choice of production as “we have so many great singers for the roles. A number of the actors had done pieces from the opera as school projects but never had the chance to actually perform them.”

Figaro cast members
Backrow (left to right): Cherbino (Emily Hagen), Count Almaviva (Greg Dokken), Countess Almaviva (Jennifer Paisecki-Dums)
Front row (left to right): Susanna (Jennifer Graupmann), Figaro (Paul H. Johnson).

Indeed all but two of the cast members are UMD School of Music Department undergraduates, graduate students or alum. “Paul Johnson, who is playing Figaro, is considering UMD for graduate school. We’re hoping this production will clinch his decision,” Hagen laughed. The orchestra is comprised of UMD faculty, students, and area professionals.

The Marriage of Figaro, Mozart's opera buffa, takes place in a beautiful country château. The Glensheen estate provides the Duluth area's most elegant setting for a performance of this classic opera,” said Bowman. The Marriage of Figaro is set in the 1780s and will be sung in Italian. “A dynamic cast of young professionals in gorgeous costumes and accompanied by a full orchestra will provide a memorable evening,” he added.

A sparkling opera on a sparkling Great Lake; what more could any opera lover ask for?



Cast for Le Nozze di Figaro

Count Almaviva: Greg Dokken (UMD Grad Student)/Dan Hoffman, understudy (UWS Alum)
Countess Almaviva: Jennifer Piasecki-Dums (UMD Alum)
Susanna: Jennifer Graupmann (UMD Grad Student)
Figaro: Paul H. Johnson (St. Olaf Alum, prospective UMDGrad Student)
Cherubino: Emily Hagen (UMD Alum, UMD Grad Alum)
Marcellina: Mary Palazzolo (UMD Alum)
Bartolo: Kevin Pilon (UMD Undergrad Student)
Basilio/Don Curzio: Phil Solyntjes and Mike Binkowski (both UMD Undergrad Students)
Barbarina: Sarah Mehle (UMD Undergrad Student)
Antonio: Brian Herrig (UMD Undergrad Student)

Written by Kathleen McQuillan-Hofmann,

UMD home page editor, Cheryl Reitan,
NEW RELEASES, UMD media contact, Susan Latto,, 218-726-8830

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