Arts Blog

Carleton presents “Dr. Falstaff and the Working Wives of Lake County: A Picnic Operetta”

September 29, 2018

Carleton College invites the public to a performance of “Dr. Falstaff and the Working Wives of Lake County: A Picnic Operetta” on Sunday, Oct. 7 at 2 p.m. A new adaptation of Otto Nicolai’s German opera, “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” this performance will take place outdoors in the Cowling Arboretum and will be presented by the Minneapolis-based theater company Mixed Precipitation.

An edible opera adventure for the whole family, “A Picnic Operetta” marks its tenth year of this theatrical tradition, commemorating the harvest season with a unique blend of music, horticulture, food, and storytelling. Described as “a bit of Minnesota history and the music of Bruce Springsteen,” the production is designed as a late summer harvest celebration and will serve up a variety of local flavors with picnic bites for the audience.

“Dr. Falstaff and the Working Wives of Lake County: A Picnic Operetta” takes place on the shores of Lake Superior, where a small town is in trouble. The taconite plant has gone bust and jobs are leaving town fast. Meanwhile, the sleazy Doctor Falstaff has washed up on shore. He's looking to sell a boat, eat some herring, and seduce some married women. Luckily, a trio of tough working gals has teamed up to chase the rat out of town. These working wives (a nurse, a park ranger, and a librarian) show the men in town who’s The Boss.

Mixed Precipitation artistic director Scotty Reynolds, a native of Silver Bay, Minnesota, adapted the story based on his own research on Minnesota’s ecological and economic history and the landmark legal battle, United States vs. Reserve Mining. “Our show places the silly characters of Shakespeare’s comedy alongside contemporary questions about industry, job creation, and the environmental impact of capitalism,” Reynolds says.

“Shakespeare’s ‘’The Merry Wives of Windsor’ takes place in a hunting village outside of London. Our version takes place on the North Shore of Lake Superior in a historic fishing community and mining town. Contaminated drinking water and a depleted fish population led to a decade of legal battles with fishermen, environmentalists, and the mining industry. Bruce Springsteen’s classic anthems of working life and songs of love are perfect for the struggles of the time. We’ll look at the conflict of environmentalism and job creation with humor and dignity.”

Based in Minneapolis, the Mixed Precipitation theater company is renowned for blending sweet and savory bites with creative storytelling. Renowned for their "Picnic Operetta's," this lively theater experience tours community gardens throughout the Twin Cities metro area, presenting a tasting menu of locally-grown, performance-inspired delicacies that are served during performances. The ensemble hopes to bring classical music, horticulture, food, and storytelling together into a celebration of the urban eco-system.

For their Carleton performance, the menu will be created by Twin Cities chefs Natalie Vandenburgh of The Good Acre and Kyual Cribben of Hai Hai, who will craft a tasting menu adapted to the story, inviting the audience to taste the edible beauty of the Minnesota harvest.

“Dr. Falstaff and the Working Wives of Lake County: A Picnic Operetta” was created by producing artistic director Scotty Reynolds, director Kym Longhi, music director Gary Ruschman, and the Mixed Precipitation theater company. Admission is free and open to the public.

Audience members should meet at the main entrance to the Carleton Recreation Center, where they will be directed to the performance area in the Cowling Arboretum. Blankets, bug spray and sunscreen will be provided for the audience, but patrons are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs and water. For more information, including disability accommodations, call (507) 222-4389. In the event of rain, the performance will take place in the Weitz Center for Creativity Commons. The Weitz Center is located at Third & College Streets in Northfield.