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BEST OPERA

The Grapes of Wrath

When at last the Minnesota Opera's Dale Johnson and composer Ricky Ian Gordon secured rights from the Steinbeck estate to compose an opera from The Grapes of Wrath, Gordon must have resolved then and there not to squander the opportunity on the kind of gauzy Americana that similar coups have inspired. He took to heart the meaning of opera: four hours, two intermissions, forty-plus singers, a full orchestra. He and librettist Michael Korie insisted on staying true to both the novel's amplitude and its discomfiting outrage. The co-commission (with Utah Opera) never shies from portraying the harrowing particulars endured by the dislocated Joads as they make their way west. The ditches lining Route 66 are ready graves for their meager heirlooms and beloved dead—the things they believe to be the last shreds of who they are. But the opera continually weaves these sorrows into a broader fabric of social destiny. It's both grand and intimate—and often funny. (There is even a paean to a New Deal latrine.) Through it all, Ma Joad, sung beautifully and with apt darkness by Deanne Meek, strives to keep the "fambily" together. It hardly works out that way, but Gordon and Korie suffuse her desperation with grit and eloquence. Gordon's music and Korie's prosody, even at their most transporting, explore thresholds rather than resolutions. They're illusionless without being hopeless. To a singer, the production's cast got this. Have-nots everywhere struggle terribly, they tell us, but in shameless and myth-drunk America, that need distills from universal miseries a distinct odor of shame.

BEST ACOUSTIC PERFORMER Piper's Crow

BEST ACTOR Ansa Akyea

BEST ACTRESS Tracey Maloney

BEST ALBUM OF THE PAST 12 MONTHS Chooglin'

BEST ALL-AGES VENUE The Garage

BEST AM RADIO PERSONALITY Tom Mischke

BEST ART CINEMA Oak Street Cinema

BEST ART GALLERY Creative Electric Studios

BEST BAND NAME Huge Rat Attacks

BEST BAND TO BREAK UP IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS The Soviettes

BEST BLUES BAND The Butanes

BEST BLUES BAR Famous Dave's

BEST BOOK BY A LOCAL AUTHOR 900 Miles from Nowere

BEST BUDGET MOVIE THEATER Roseville 4

BEST CHOREOGRAPHER Ananya Chatterjea

BEST CLASSICAL PERFORMANCE OF THE PAST 12 MONTHS Minnesota Orchestra performing Beethoven's Fifth Symphony

BEST CLUB DJ E-Tones

BEST CONCERT OF THE PAST 12 MONTHS (LOCAL) The Plastic Constellations and Tapes 'n Tapes at First Avenue

BEST CONCERT OF THE PAST 12 MONTHS (TOURING) Rakim

BEST CONCERT VENUE Varsity Theater

BEST DANCE CLUB Foundation

BEST DANCE PERFORMANCE OF THE PAST 12 MONTHS Anytown: Stories of America

BEST DANCER Karen Sherman

BEST DIRECTOR Wendy Knox

BEST FESTIVAL Grand Old Day

BEST FILM Sweet Land

BEST FM RADIO PERSONALITY Bill DeVille

BEST HIP-HOP ARTIST Brother Ali

BEST HIP-HOP RADIO PROGRAM Redefinition Radio

BEST INDEPENDENT THEATER Emigrant Theater

BEST JAZZ ARTIST Frank Morgan

BEST JAZZ CLUB Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant

BEST KARAOKE James Ballentine VFW Post 246

BEST LITERARY JOURNAL Conduit

BEST LIVE ARTIST Dance Band

BEST LOCAL MUSIC COMPILATION Duluth Does Dylan Revisited

BEST LOCAL RECORD LABEL Afternoon Records

BEST MOVIE THEATER Riverview Theater

BEST MUSEUM Minneapolis Institute of Arts

BEST MUSEUM EXHIBIT Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love

BEST MUSIC STORE (CHAIN) Guitar Center

BEST MUSIC STORE (INDEPENDENT) Twin Town Guitars

BEST NEW BAND Mouthful of Bees

BEST OLD BAND Dan Wilson

BEST OPEN MIC BALLS Cabaret

BEST PLACE TO BUY VINYL Hymie's Vintage Records

BEST PLACE TO RENT FOREIGN FILMS Cinema Revolution

BEST PLACE TO WATCH A MOVIE OUTDOORS Stevens Square Park

BEST PUBLIC ACCESS CABLE TV PROGRAM Black Focus

BEST PUBLIC ARTS PROJECT Art Shanty Projects

BEST R&B ARTIST J. Isaac

BEST RADIO PROGRAM AFTER MIDNIGHT Radio Riot

BEST RADIO STATION KFAI (90.3/106.7 FM)

BEST READING OF THE PAST 12 MONTHS Mark Mallman and Chuck Klosterman Kill Themselves to Live

BEST ROCK BAND Little Man

BEST ROCK CLUB First Avenue

BEST SINGLE ARTIST SHOW Jaron Childs: Ruptures

BEST SONGWRITER Jeremy Messersmith

BEST SPORTS TALK RADIO HOST Paul Allen

BEST STAGE PRODUCTION Last of the Boys

BEST THEATER FOR COMEDY Brave New Workshop

BEST THEATER FOR DRAMA Children's Theatre Company

BEST TV STATION TPT:Channels 2 and 17

BEST VOCALIST (FEMALE) Prudence Johnson

BEST VOCALIST (MALE) Mike Gunther