It is often said that life imitates art.

While perhaps unintended, a Minnesota arts company found this to be true last weekend.

As Women’s Marches took place across the country, Minnesota Opera opened “Diana’s Garden” at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts.

While the show’s central theme is love, artistic director Peter Rothstein set in the show in the 1950s, an era were women began to reclaim their bodies and rights.

Leah Patridge, who plays the title character, made her debut with the Minnesota Opera and spoke about how the company, especially through performances like this, helps keep the art form alive.

“Diana’s Garden” tells the story Diana the goddess of chastity. In Vicente Matin y Soler’s opera, Diana becomes the object of Cupid’s affection. In Peter Rothstein’s version, the show is set in the 1950s. This is said to add a big of social commentary to the show. Tell me, what do you think setting the show in the 1950s adds to the storyline?

Partridge: The 1950s were a time when women were realizing they could do much more with their lives and they were coming into their own, leading into the equal rights movement of the 1960s. Setting this opera during the 1950s helps frame the story of how Diana comes to break down her rigidity and move toward freedom of love and expression. It’s fun to see Diana all pent up and sewn into these structured, very tailored suits and then as she falls in love she becomes the 60s flower child.  CLICK HERE FOR MORE


Partridge’s portrayal of Aurelia Havisham was a fascinating and complex interplay of genteel fragility and raging acrimony. Dressed in faded lace, hair in vivid red curls, her eyes wide, her movements lithe, her sanity in shambles and her voice phenomenally affecting, Partridge plied every nuance of Argento’s ingenious, modernist score, playing the room expertly, caressing our sensibilities at one moment as the expectant young bride, her voice delicately evoking the charms and decorum of a bygone era; then, as the scorned, embittered spinster, giving vent to despair that skirted the verges of self-destruction, all of it building to a climax of shattering histrionic and vocal combustion as she flung a clock from the mantelpiece, dashing it to pieces, seemingly in vain hope of stopping time itself. It was a dazzling performance.  CLICK HERE FOR MORE


Cast members for Atlanta Opera productions typically arrive from around the world to perform on the stage of the Cobb Energy Centre for the company’s two-week performance runs.

The upcoming production of “La bohème” is no different. Both the leads, Maria Luigia Borsi, who plays Mimì, and Gianluca Terranova, who plays Rodolfo, hail from Italy, and the rest of the cast is likewise a mix of singers from around the globe.

However, one cast member won’t have far to travel. Soprano Leah Partridge, who plays the supporting role of Musetta, is an Atlanta resident and Georgia native. Partridge has been a professional opera singer for 13 years, most often traveling like her fellow cast members, but occasionally appearing in Atlanta Opera productions.

It’s a life she speaks of with so much passion and enthusiasm it’s surprising to learn that, as a child, she never considered it as a career — or even realized such a life was possible.

Partridge grew up in Lincolnton, about 40 miles from Augusta. Although there was no music program at her school, Partridge developed a love of music early, singing in church along with her family, many of whom were members of the choir at New Hope Baptist Church. She first began to play music on her mother’s old three-octave synthesizer organ, learning through an instructional book that used numbers instead of notes.   CLICK HERE FOR MORE