‘Rockland’ and ‘Yoopera!’ to screen at Rozsa Center

The Copper Country has a long and varied history and part of that history has been immortalized in the opera “Rockland,” which tells the story of the 1906 miners strike and the two miners who were killed when shots were fired by local policemen.

According to Candace Koski Janners, who serves on the “Rockland” taskforce, which helped promote, market and raise funds for the opera, the story of the miners strike was written by Alfred Laakso, a fellow miner. His grandson, Andy Hill, found the record of the event and proposed it as a story that’s fit for the stage.

“It chronicles history,” Koski Janners said. “The long forgotten period of Finnish American history, which is relevant to all immigrant stories. It’s still relevant.

In conjunction with “Rockland,” local artist Mary Wright developed The Story Line Project, which displayed ancestral stories written primarily by children and concerned their immigrant stories.

“Not everyone can have their immigrant story developed into an opera, but it stands for the immigrant experience,” Koski Janners said.

While the opera itself made its premiere in 2011 at the Rozsa Center, audiences will be able to watch a recording of the opera Saturday free of charge.

Also screening this Saturday is “Yoopera!,” a documentary not just about the opera, but about the town of Rockland, as well as the story of a group of Yoopers commissioning the top librettist and composer in Finland to produce an original opera based on the miner murders.

Suzanne Jurva is the director behind “Yoopera!” and said there are many themes like community art, public art and the idea of storytelling.

Jurva heard from Mary Wright that someone is alive as long as stories are being told about the person and that’s what Jurva aimed to do with “Yoopera!”

Michigan Technological University Director of Humanities and Digital Media Dr. Erin Smith, who was also involved with “Yoopera” said the show presents something beautiful that’s still here and alive.

“Yoopera” will be screen at 1 p.m. Saturday with “Rockland”?following at 3 p.m.