Dr. Falstaff and the Working Wives of Lake County: A Picnic Operetta

A new adaptation of Otto Nicolai’s German opera, The Merry Wives of Windsor, with a bit of Minnesota history and the music of Bruce Springsteen!

Celebrating its 10th season, the company brings an edible opera adventure to parks, farms, and gardens throughout MN in August and September

On the shores of Lake Superior, the company town is in trouble. The taconite plant has gone bust and jobs are leaving town fast. Meanwhile, the sleazy Doctor Falstaff has washed up on shore. He’s looking to sell a boat, eat some herring, and seduce some married women. Luckily, a trio of tough working gals has teamed up to chase the rat out of town. These working wives (a nurse, a park ranger, and a librarian) show the men in town who’s the Boss.

Scotty Reynolds, a native of Silver Bay, Minnesota, adapted this story following his research on Minnesota’s ecological and economic history and the landmark legal battle, United States vs. Reserve Mining.

“Our show places the silly characters of Shakespeare’s comedy alongside contemporary questions about industry, job creation, and the environmental impact of capitalism,” Reynolds says. “Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor takes place in a hunting village outside of London. Our version takes place on the North Shore of Lake Superior in a historic fishing community and mining town. Contaminated drinking water and a depleted fish population led to a decade of legal battles with fisherman, environmentalists and the mining industry. Bruce Springsteen’s classic anthems of working life and songs of love are perfect for the struggles of the time. We’ll look at the conflict of environmentalism and job creation with humor and dignity. ”


Baritone Nick Miller sings the leading role of Dr. Falstaff, having previously sung the role of Leporello in our production of Donald Giovanni in Cornlandia in 2016. Picnic Operetta alumni Naomi Karstad (Mrs. Ford) Anna Hashizume (Mrs. Page) play the “working wives” pursued by Dr. Falstaff. Baritone Alex Adams-Leytes plays the jealous Mr. Ford, following previous appearances with companies in German, Austria, and Italy. In the United States, he’s performed with St. Petersburg Opera Company, Gulfshore Opera, and the Pacific Opera Project.  Picnic Operetta regulars Maggie Lofboom (King Arthur, Escape from Alcina’s Island) and Isaac Bont (Donald Giovanni and Philemon and Baucis) play the roles of Mrs. Page and Falstaff at alternating performances.

Ensemble members this year include Joni Griffith, Leif Hove, Maya Avila, Jackson Calhoun, Alia Jeraj, Jacob Miller, Akiko Ostlund, Nora Ricky, and Jesse Pollack-Foote. Musicians include Gary Ruschman, Drew Kellum, Avery Wong, and Luke Pickman.


Mixed Precipitation blends sweet and savory bites into the storytelling to celebrate the harvest. Chefs Nora Rickey and Natalie Vandenburgh of the Good Acre will craft a tasting menu adapted to the story, inviting the audience to taste the edible beauty of the Minnesota harvest.

2018 Tour Dates and Locations

Site and accessibility information

August 16, 7pm (Preview)
Fair Oaks Park, presented by the Hennepin History Museum
200 East 24th St, Minneapolis, MN 55404

August 17, 7pm (Opening)
Fair Oaks Park, presented by the Hennepin History Museum
200 East 24th St, Minneapolis, MN 55404

August 19, 2pm
Finland Historical Society
5653 Little Marais Rd, Finland, MN 55603

August 23, 7pm
Dodge Nature Center
1701 Charlton Avenue, West St. Paul MN 55118

August 25, 2pm
Northern Delicious presented by the Northern Lakes Arts Association
3298 Lenont Road, Babbitt MN, 55706

August 26, 2pm
Cook’s Country Connection
1953 Vermilion Drive, Cook, Minnesota, 55723

September 1, 2pm
Alexis Bailly Vineyard
18200 Kirby Ave. Hastings, MN 55033

September 2, 2pm
Alexis Bailly Vineyard
18200 Kirby Ave. Hastings, MN 55033

September 8, 2pm
Bronx Park Community Garden
2500 Georgia Ave. South (Nelson Park Building), St. Louis Park, 55426

September 9, 2pm
JD Rivers’ Children’s Garden
2900 Glenwood Ave N, Minneapolis, MN 55405

September 15, 2pm
Memorial Park, Presented by the Sheldon Theatre
Skyline Drive entrance off 600 Block of E. 7th Street, Red Wing, MN 55066

September 16, 3pm
Unity Park, Presented by the Page Series at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota
860 Parks Avenue, Winona, MN 55987

September 22, 3pm
Dream Acres Farm
17289 County Road 8, Wykoff, MN, 55990  Call 507-352-4255 for reservations 

September 23, 2:30pm
Squash Blossom Farm
7499 60th Avenue NE, Oronoco, MN 55960

September 29, 3pm
Swede Hollow Park
657 East Beaumont St, St. Paul, MN

September 30, 3pm  (American Sign Language interpretation & Audio Description)*
Loring Park Garden of the Seasons
1382 Willow Street, Minneapolis, MN 55408

October 7, 2pm 
Carleton Arboretum
501 Three Oaks Drive, Northfield, MN 55057

*ASL: The performance on September 30 will be interpreted by a team of Deaf and hearing interpreters: Canae Weiss, Rosalinda Estrada-Alvarez, and Sarah Brown.The performance will be audio described by Laura Wiebers. Do you need other accommodations or have questions about accessibility? Email access coordinator Asher Edes at aesc1123@gmail.com.

This one-of-a-kind show is directed by Kym Longhi, written by Scotty Reynolds, with music director Gary Ruschman.


Seating is limited and reservations are strongly encouraged. The suggested donation is $10 – 20 per person. Donations are a critical source of funding for The Picnic Operetta and can be made with your reservation or collected at the performance. No one will be turned away for lack of funds. We provide blankets, bug spray, and sunscreen for our audience, but patrons are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs and water.


We are prepared to provide reasonable accommodation to patrons with physical disabilities and those using access services. Our performance is designed for an outdoor garden venue. A sighted guide is suggested for visually impaired patrons. 

Accessibility information for each site is available here

Please call Audience Services Lead Alia Jeraj (651-485-2283) for access accommodations for each unique venue.

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