Mixed Precipitation announces “The Clemency of Tito’s Tennis Club: A Picnic Operetta,” a new adaptation of Mozart’s opera, La Clemenza di Tito, with high stakes sports drama, natural disasters and 80s new wave music.

Created by Producing Artistic Director Scotty Reynolds, Artistic Associate Jacob Miller, Music Director Gary Ruschman, and the Mixed Precipitation team, this late summer harvest celebration offers local flavors with picnic bites shared with the audience. It’s fun for everyone.

An edible opera adventure for the whole family, A Picnic Operetta marks its 11-year tradition of celebrating the harvest with a unique blend of music, food and storytelling. The Clemency of Tito’s Tennis Club: A Picnic Operetta will be at the Women’s Environmental Institute in North Branch at 2 p.m. on Aug. 11. The Women’s Environmental Institute is located at 15715 River Rd., North Branch.

Call 1-800-838-3006 or visit mixedprecipitation.org for reservations. Seating is limited and reservations are strongly encouraged. The suggested donation is $10 to $20 per person. Donations are a critical source of funding for The Picnic Operetta and can be made with your reservation or collected at the performance. No one will be turned away for lack of funds. They provide blankets, bug spray, and sunscreen for the audience, but patrons are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs and water.

In this adaptation of Mozart’s opera, a rag-tag group of players is resurrecting a defunct tennis club. But backstabbing, bitterness, and a murderous revenge plot threaten their rise to the top of Rome’s championship match. Will they find redemption before Mount Vesuvius covers them in ash? When can cheaters be forgiven? All is presented with the Picnic Operetta’s trademark style of playfulness, satire, and hope. Classic arias and duets from Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito soar across the garden alongside New Wave and synth-pop hits by Devo, Berlin, Yaz, and Pat Benatar. Their operatic athletes will serve the audience some fresh edible bites as well.

Mozart wrote La Clemenza in 1791. It premiered two months before his death at age 35. It was commissioned for the coronation of Leopold II, King of Bohemia, and upholds a clear political agenda — reinforcing the wisdom and benevolence of the aristocracy.

This year’s production is co-directed by Scotty Reynolds and Jacob Miller, with music director Gary Ruschman. Reynolds states, “Using athletic events as the site of corruption, call-outs, and cheating is a metaphor for events that test the strength of empathy and forgiveness. In our version, we want to wrestle with forgiveness and clemency, not as something that is handed down by those in power, but something that can come from community healing.”

Cast and Artistic Team

Mezzo-Soprano Anna Hashizume returns to take on the role of Sesto. Tenor Jim Ahrens plays the title role, having appeared in five Mixed Precipitation productions since 2012, including title roles in The Return of King Idomeneo, and King Arthur. Singer, actress and multi-instrumentalist Lauren Asheim sings the role of Vitellia. A four-year veteran of the Picnic Operetta Joni Griffith sings the role of Servilia.

Ensemble members this year include Jennifer LeDoux, KT Magnolia, Chris Nolan, Mario Perez, Gabe Salmon, Will Dierenfield. The youth ensemble includes Julia Chelimsky, Harper Hawley Kosse, Jessica Luna, Sophie Negrete, Audrey Niemi, Andrew Niemi, and Ani Peichel. Gary Ruschman leads the pit band, including Picnic Operetta veterans Ginna Watson and Luke Pickman.

The Picnic Operetta menu is created by chef Tracy Yue who operates the catering company One Dish at a Time and creates community meals at the First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis.

This activity is made possible in part by a grant provided by the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

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