Agent Fidelio: Secret spies amid the fields

Lauren Dresler is on the case.
Lauren Dresler is on the case.
Photo by Sinjun Strom

Taking a break from the relentless drumbeat of the Minnesota Fringe Festival, I actually spent some time outside Saturday afternoon to take in Mixed Precipitation's latest picnic operetta, Agent Fidelio.

Merging Beethoven, Jimmy Cliff, and the sweet and tangy tastes of late summer, the show delighted an overflowing crowd at the Eat Street Garden. It is sure to entertain at the various community gardens and public spaces it plays at over the next month.

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The show draws its framework and much of its music from Fidelio, Beethoven's only opera. The piece is decidedly German in music (there's no question who the composer is here) and in tone, as we have a tragic love story, prisoners treated like slave workers, and environmental collapse all in one package. There is also redemption by the end, but the characters have to work to get there.

In the rethought piece, Fidelio is an agent of R.E.M.O.T.E., a super-secret spy agency that wants to get the goods on a jail, and a sheriff, who are up to no good. Fidelio has a second reason to go: Her husband was imprisoned there and hasn't been seen since.

Inside, she discovers the dastardly plot: the jail was once the home of a popular soda company that was shut down by the corrupt sheriff and transformed into a place where the jailed toil to make chemical weapons. 

Through guile and unexpected allies, Fidelio and the crew are able to save the day. Along the way, there is some gorgeous music, expertly sung by the cast. Leading the group includes Lauren Drasler as the title character, who sports both a tremendous voice and an engaging character that pulls us through all of the silliness.

Even though he is offstage for the first three-quarters of the work, Jim Aherns makes quite an impression as the imprisoned Florestan, Fidelio's husband. Their reunion is touching, and fuels some of the best moments of the show.

There's a delightfully goofy vibe existing throughout, as the agents of R.E.M.O.T.E. use equipment right out Get Smart, including an eggplant phone employed by our agent on the inside. 

Foodwise, chef Nick Schneider has crafted a delightful tasting menu, from curried vegetables to start to baked kale and pesto, all the way to a refreshing watermelon, ginger, and mint dessert, and a few ounces of tasty ginger soda.


Picnic Operetta: Agent Fidelio
Through September 15
Various outdoor locations.
$10-$20 suggested donation
For reservations and information, call 1.800.838.3006 or visit online.

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