Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Before curtain call for opera "Rockland" Premiere ...

By Michele Bourdieu

HOUGHTON -- Keweenaw Now caught some of the action at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts in Houghton just before the curtain call for the Pine Mountain Music Festival's New World Premiere of the opera Rockland on Friday, July 15, 2011.

As a crowd gathers in the lobby of Michigan Tech's Rozsa Center, a small orchestra provides a musical preview for the Pine Mountain Music Festival production of the opera Rockland on July 15, 2011. Covering the windows are cloth panels of artist Mary Wright's "Story Line" exhibit -- a community art and history project featuring stories of ancestors who, like the striking Finnish miners in the opera, faced adversity. (Video clip by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

Waiting for the opera to begin last Friday, community artist Mary Wright gives her "thumbs up" gesture in celebration of her "Story Line" project. Wright collected more than 7000 submissions of stories from schools and communities in the central and Western Upper Peninsula. The stories and photos are printed on cloth panels covering the windows of the Rozsa lobby and also hung outside on the Michigan Tech campus. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)*

Ann Pace of Hancock, musician and Pine Mountain Festival volunteer usher, offers festival tee-shirts for sale in the Rozsa Lobby before the curtain call for the July 15 New World Premiere of the opera Rockland. (Photo by Allan Baker for Keweenaw Now)

Outside the Rozsa Center, Senator Carl Levin (D-Michigan) offered media a few minutes of interviews before the July 15th Rockland performance. Here he is speaking with a reporter from Marquette's WLUC-TV6 concerning the deficit problem and the beginning of troop reductions in Afghanistan. In addition to attending the opera, Levin explained, he was also in town to meet with National Park Service officials. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

With just minutes to go before the curtain call, Senator Levin tells Keweenaw Now Editor Michele Bourdieu he is familiar with the story of the opera, based on a 1906 miners' strike in Rockland, Michigan; but he contrasts Upper Peninsula mining during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries with the present and potential mines in the UP today. Levin said there should be mining in the UP if it's done properly: "It's a totally different world now than it was 100 or 150 years ago when people didn't care about the environment," Levin noted. "There are now environmental protections, so if there's mining it has to be done in a way which is environmentally approved. So long as it's done environmentally correctly, as far as I'm concerned it's appropriate that it be done. If it's going to disrupt the environment or spoil the environment, obviously it shouldn't be done. But we've got agencies now which protect our environment, and we are properly relying on those agencies." (Photo by Alan Baker)

*Editor's Note: Click here for more about the "Story Line" project.

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