Though she's only been doing opera singing for a few years, St. Louis Park resident Heather Hjelle is going to try her luck this year in the Minnesota State Fair Talent Show.
She is slated to perform on Sunday in the semifinals. If Hjelle advances, she'll sing in the finals on Sept. 2.
"I would love to make the finals," she said. "But I also look at it as just another chance to audition. It's kind of an honor (just to be in the show)."
In her senior year at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato two years ago, Hjelle, who was studying music, was approached by a teacher about trying opera. Hjelle had been singing her whole life, but had never done opera. She tried it and was hooked right away.
"I love that it's over-dramatic," Hjelle said. "Everything is over the top."
Hjelle said a lot of the principles are the same in opera as they are in standard singing, but she has had to learn how to project more. Plus, she's had to pick up some Italian.
In the last few years, Hjelle has done a few smaller talent shows. But she never thought of doing the state fair show—because she didn't know it existed.
"I was just researching ways to keep singing and performing (and I found it)," she said.
Hjelle is in the open division, which includes performers of all ages. She had to audition earlier this summer to qualify for Sunday's semifinals. Hjelle said just getting this far means a lot, especially because she's overcome kidney failure twice in her life—most recently right after she graduated from college. Plus, she's been able to lose 125 pounds in the last year and a half.
She said her family and friends have been very supportive, and she hopes to put on a good show for them on Sunday.
"They're very proud of me," Hjelle said. "They've seen me adapt (to opera)."
Hjelle is slated to perform at 6 p.m. on Sunday at the Bandshell.