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Laura McCarten Interview

2013 marks the third year that Xcel Energy is a Premier Partner of the Minnesota Historical Society. In anticipation of Mill City Summer Opera’s upcoming performances, we talked to Regional Vice President of NSP Minnesota Laura McCarten, an opera aficionado who has worked in the energy business for over 30 years.

Laura McCarten says that to learn an appreciation for the ancient and graceful artform known as opera, start small. For her, this meant buying a Luciano Pavarotti album in her early 20s. Not long after, she saw an English-language production of The Magic Flute at the State Theatre. That performance of one of Mozart’s most popular operas led to a lifetime passion that has involved attending more than 100 performances, from the Metropolitan Opera in New York to opera houses in Prague and Vienna.

But you don’t have to travel the world to see great opera. McCarten recommends that first-timers check out Mill City Summer Opera’s production of The Barber of Seville at the Mill City Museum Ruin Courtyard in July. She said the bawdy comedy has something for everyone, from rich orchestration to dramatic costuming—all delivered in a one-of-a-kind outdoor venue. Plus, you’re probably more familiar with the music than you think.

Barber is part of our culture,” said McCarten. “Everyone knows that opera, the beautiful music. You hear it in cartoons even. Give it a chance.”

And with supertitles running across the top of the stage, you don’t have to speak Italian to understand the dialogue. McCarten explained that many operas tell universal stories that anyone can relate to, even 200 years after their first performance.

“[Opera] is an expression of something essentially human. It’s so much a part of who we are, and it’s so much fun,” she said. “Operas, plays, movies, book readings, dance—they all provide a chance to experience something elemental about who we are and marvel at what humans can do.”

As a Premier Partner of the Minnesota Historical Society, Xcel Energy provides MHS visitors with information and resources to save energy. To learn more about residential programs, visit xcelenergy.com.