LOON Vision, Mission, and History

Our Vision

Opera is a deeply rooted and thriving element of culture, community, and identity in the North.

Our Mission

Provide world-class opera performance and education in the North, for all ages in a diversity of venues and formats.


Ever since the old days, Northlanders have been enthusiastic about opera.  The old Met always made a stop in Duluth on their national tour.  Duluth was home to several bona fide opera house auditoriums of which only one remains intact:  The Denfeld High School Auditorium.  It was here that in 1991, Northland Opera Theatre Experience created its first full scale opera.  Duluth audiences were treated to many of the great opera classics including Carmen, Der Freischutz, Madama Butterfly, Fidelio, La Boheme, Tosca and Il Trovatore.  In 1998, N.O.T.E. closed the curtain on its eighth and final performance, The Tales of Hoffman, starring Bill Bastian, Char Taylor, Rachel Inselman, Ruth Jacobson, Hope Crawford Koehler, Joe Reed, Bill Koehler, John Sippola, Ann Cravero and Bryan Maus and conducted by Maestro Keith Swanson.

During the years that followed, opera lovers in the Arrowhead region asked when they might see a regional opera company return to our community.  Colder by the Lake filled the gap intermittently, first with Les Uncomfortables in 2001 and 2002, and then with The Phantom of the NorShor in 2004.  But still there was no company in the area devoted solely to producing opera.  In response to this need, in October 2004, Ruth Jacobson gathered many of the original founders of N.O.T.E. and reformed the company as a non-profit corporation under a new name:  Lyric Opera of the North.

With the help of an Arrowhead Regional Arts Council grant, beginning in 2005, LOON again presented opera to regional audiences using local resources and talent.  Northern Minnesota is home to a remarkable concentration of cultural wealth:  singers, orchestral, popular and ethnic musicians, artists, dancers, poets, writers, actors, and passionate supporters.  LOON welcomes the opportunity to channel our many diverse local strengths and passions into collaborative efforts for all who love the grandest of the performing arts, opera.

Timeline of LOON’s history

  • 1991 Northern Opera Theatre Experience (NOTE) is founded by Laurie and William Bastian.  First production:  Il Trovatore
  • 1992 La Bohéme
  • 1993 Carmen
  • 1994 Tosca
  • 1995 Der Freischutz
  • 1996 Madama Butterfly
  • 1997 Fidelio
  • 1998 The Tales of Hoffman (NOTE’s final production)
  • 2001 Colder by the Lake produces Tyler Kaiser’s Les Uncomfortables (libretto by Margi Preus & Jean Sramek) with many members of NOTE’s roster.  Ruth Jacobson starts talking about re-forming a local opera company.
  • 2002 Les Uncomfortables is reprised due to popular demand.
  • October 2004 Ruth Jacobson forms a new 501(c)3 named Lyric Opera of the North (LOON).  First production:  A Die Fledermaus Gala Concert
  • 2005 Colder by the Lake produces The Phantom of the NorShor (lyrics by Margi Preus & Jean Sramek) with many of the same personnel.
  • 2006 LOON’s first staged production:  The Magic Flute
  • 2007 A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • 2009 Semele
  • 2010 Gala Benefit Concert; Amahl & The Night Visitors
  • 2011 – 2012 Cavalleria Rusticana & Gianni Schicchi; The Mikado
  • 2012 – 2013  Amahl & The Night Visitors; La Traviata
  • 2013 – 2014 Face on the Barroom Floor and Bon Appétit!; Don Pasquale
  • 2014 – 2015  Carmen
  • 2015 – 2016  The Barber of Seville; Les Uncomfortables
  • 2016 – 2017  Blue Viola; Rigoletto
  • 2017 – 2018  St. John Passion; Don Giovanni
  • 2018 – 2019 Trouble in Tahiti and The Filthy Habit; L’elisir d’amore (The Elixir of Love)
  • 2019 – 2020 Amahl & the Night Visitors; Tosca (postponed)
  • 2020 – 2021 Tales from a Safe Distance: Everything Comes to a Head with Decameron Opera Coalition
  • 2021 – 2022 HEROES: The Place with Decameron Opera Coalition; Hansel and Gretel