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New Martin Luther opera for Reformation festival

Four Lutheran institutions will co-sponsor the event

The world premiere in English of a new Fin-nish opera will crown the annual Luther Seminary Reformation Festival October 25-27. “Luther,” created by noted contemporary Finnish composer Kari Tikka, will be offered three times at Central Lutheran Church, Minneapolis.
A consortium of Lutheran groups has combined to bring the unique presentation to Minnesota. Luther Seminary’s Gracia Grindal translated the text into English. Augsburg College’s Masterworks Chorale and Orchestra will provide music support, along with area Lutheran church choirs. Central Lutheran, downtown Minneapolis, will host the presentations, which are funded significantly by Lutheran Brotherhood.
Members of the Finnish National Opera will stage the two-act musical exploration of the meaning of Martin Luther’s life and ministry. Reminiscent of a Bach cantata, the performance will draw the audience into the experience by inviting them to sing stanzas of five familiar hymns which Luther wrote: “Out of the Depths;” “Christ Jesus Lay in Death’s Strong Bands;” “Dear Christians, One and All;” “From Heaven Above;” and “A Mighty Fortress.”
Tikka, who composed the music and shared in writing the text, said, “Opera is a wonderful way to tell stories. It’s not only music. It’s also theater. At its best, opera can be psychoanalysis or pastoral care.”
Grindal, who previously spearheaded bringing a musical celebration of the life of Hans Nielsen Hauge to the Twin Cities, is also heavily invested in the current “Luther” production. A friend of Tikka’s, she consulted with him before he composed the work. The Luther Seminary professor of rhetoric said “Luther” will raise questions in people’s minds about Luther, adding that “it does an excellent job — an historically accurate job — of showing Luther’s struggles with Satan.”
Tickets for the presentations, $12.50 for adults or $10 for seniors and students, are available from Ticket Works, 612/343-3390 (www.ticketworks.com).