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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Kimm Julian collaborates to create 'accessible opera'

'“Dido and Aeneas'

Faculty member Kimm Julian: Making opera relevant for all.

By Adam Pulchinski, Free Press Correspondent [published in The Free Press, Mankato, MN, 4/28/2011]

The performances of the opera “Dido and Aeneas” at Minnesota State Mankato this weekend will mark the unique experi­ence of the music, theater and dance, and art depart­ments collaborating on a proj­ect.

Kimm JulianKimm Julian, a professor in the music department, said he typically does everything himself when it comes to the spring show, but changes in faculty status and program size created a situation in which collaboration with other departments was a necessity, and that it can be a benefit to the production.

One such collaboration is working with Heather Hamilton in theatre. Hamilton has worked on staging for “Dido and Aeneas.”

The third component in the collaboration is the involvement of Curt Germundson, who teaches in the art department. Germundson selected pieces of art that are to be projected throughout the production via PowerPoint.

Julian has made every effort to make the opera as interesting and accessible to members of the audience who might not usually take in such fare. He said the idea was to make the opera, from the 17th century, feel timeless. One way of doing that was to have the performers involved dressed in tuxedos instead of period clothing.

Germundson selected artwork from all periods, not just from the era when the story was written.

Bringing the music to the stage will be a large chorus from the Chamber Singers and student orchestra. Singing parts are played by voice majors and minors as well as students who had an interest in being involved. All the roles are double- cast, meaning that about 20 singers will be changing positions from the Saturday performance to the one on Sunday.

“I wanted to give the audience something to grab onto, to make it as accessible as I could,” Julian said. “ I’m in the business of educating.”

For the complete Free Press story, see the April 28 print edition or the e-edition at For more Free Press news, click on

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