'Romeo and Juliet' come home

by John Birge, Minnesota Public Radio
January 31, 2008
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St. Paul, Minn. — The Minnesota Opera's production of Charles Gounod's "Romeo and Juliet" is something of a homecoming for its two stars.

Soprano Ellie Dehn, who sings the role of Juliet, is a graduate of Anoka High School. Tenor James Valenti, who sings Romeo, was a member of the Minnesota Opera's Resident Artists Program from 2000 to 2002. He even sang at the Minnesota State Fair.

The two are rising stars in the opera world. Valenti made his debut four years ago with the Rome Opera, and recently finished singing Pinkerton in the San Francisco Opera's production of "Madama Butterfly."

Last season Dehn made her Metropolitan Opera debut in the parks, and this spring she'll make her debut on the Met stage singing Mrs. Naidoo in Philip Glass' "Satyagraha."

Both Valenti and Dehn trained at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadephia, but the Minnesota Opera's production of "Romeo and Juliet" is the first time the two have performed together onstage.

Valenti and Dehn stopped by Minnesota Public Radio's Maud Moon Weyerhaeuser studio, where they sang music from "Romeo and Juliet," and talked with classical host John Birge about their rising careers and their Minnesota Opera publicity photo session.

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