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Time to face the music

By Staff | Sep 8, 2013

Kelly Kaduce is coming back to Minnesota.

No, the Winnebago native and professional opera singer is not moving from her home in Houston, Texas, to her home state of Minnesota.

But, she is returning to perform in the Minnesota Opera Company’s production of Puccini’s “Manon Lescaut.”

“I love returning to Minnesota to perform,” Kaduce says. “It does feel like I am coming home.”

Kaduce will be performing the lead role as Manon Lescaut in the opera which will be performed in Minneapolis on Sept. 21, 24, 26, 28 and 29.

Tickets are available by phone from the Minnesota Opera Company Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The number is (612) 333-6669. Prices range from $85 to $810 depending on the day of the performance and the location in the theater.

Puccini’s theme for this opera is “You can’t take it with you.” While it is sung in Italian, there are English translations projected above the stage.

Kaduce’s character of Manon is seduced by the irresistible lure of money, which triggers her downfall. However, true love is her redemption in this soulful opera by the composer of “La boheme,” “Madame Butterfly” and “Turandot.”

This is not Kaduce’s first time as the lead for a Minnesota Opera production.

“I was initially in “La boheme” seven or eight years ago,” Kaduce says. “I had to fly to Minnesota from New York in order to try out, and they hired me.”

These days Kaduce does not have to do tryouts; they simply offer her the part. She has been in seven or eight different operas here in Minnesota, and dozens more around the country and the globe.

The professional singer grew up in Winnebago, the daughter of Bob and Jan Kaduce, and graduated from Blue Earth Area High School in 1992. She also graduated with a degree in music from St. Olaf College in Northfield.

“I guess I had my start in music by singing in church,” she says. “I was singing in the church choir and in community theater.”

The now-famous opera soprano had her first “starring” role as “Annie” in a Winnebago community theater production when she was just in fourth grade.

“I had piano lessons from Delores Schutt and from Jan Spitzack,” she says. “That was my start to my musical career.”

After getting her B.S. degree in music at St. Olaf, she went on to get her masters of music degree at Boston University.

“I studied voice and voice performance,” she says.

In her last year there she was awarded a grant from the Metropolitan Opera Company. As she recalls, that “chunk of money” was what jump-started her opera career.

“I started to perform in different places as an apprenticeship,” she says. “I got a manager and then started getting lead roles in small companies.”

She has performed in many places, from New York to Australia to Sweden.

She met her husband, Lee Gregory, while performing in an opera. The two have a young son, Colin Lee. “Both my mother and Lee’s mother have traveled with us to help take care of Colin,” she says.

The family lives in Houston where Gregory is from. Plus, the city has a wonderful opera company, Kaduce says.

“It is one of the best in the world,” she says. “Of course, Minnesota’s is top-notch as well.”

That could be why she keeps coming back to this state.

Kaduce says she started rehearsals at the end of August. The rehearsals last at least six hours a day, six days a week, which leaves her very little time for getting away and visiting back home in Winnebago.

“But, it is easy for my family to drive up and visit us in Minneapolis while we are here,” she says. “I have some family and friends who will come to the opera, who wouldn’t have come before, but want to come and see it.”

Or at least, come to see Kaduce performance as Puccini’s intensely romantic heroine. However, that could be a big reason for anyone to attend.

Variety magazine describes Kaduce as “Physically captivating and gifted with a soaringly pure soprano; Kaduce walks the elusive line between fragility and passion…”

Some high praise for the girl from Winnebago who started out at age nine by singing “The sun will come out tomorrow” as Little Orphan Annie.