On July 20, 2017 the Lake Superior Chamber Orchestra (LSCO) premiered It Rained on Shakopee, a groundbreaking new chamber opera created through ACF’s McKnight Visiting Composer program. During their residency at the Women’s Correctional Facility in Shakopee, MN, composer Wang Jie and playwright Zhu Yi gathered stories and experiences from the inmates, creating a compelling narrative that takes place on Mother’s Day, as a mother anxiously hopes her young daughter will come to visit the prison. Offstage, a children’s chorus chanted about a girl who has no mother, and a recorded chorus of inmates from Shakopee Prison sang a refrain of love and longing.
Soprano Vicki Fingalson portrayed the mother; Baritone Jeffrey Madison portrayed the prison guard; Warren Friesen directed the ensemble, and he shared these thoughts: “Serving as midwife at the birth of this brilliant and powerful chamber opera by composer Wang Jie and librettist Zhu Yi is one of the most profound artistic experiences of my professional life. The LSCO, which just completed its 31st season, has performed over fifty premieres in the past three decades--including three in the past three weeks. I honestly feel that It Rained on Shakopee stands first among all of them. Nor is this my opinion alone. The two soloists and the orchestral musicians--many of whom had performed all or many of those 50+ premieres--agreed that this was a gem of rare and staggering beauty. And the audience clearly felt the same as they rose to an extended standing ovation at the close of the work.” See the video and learn more about the full project plans here.