Monthly blog archive

About PDX OPERAbeat




PDX OPERAbeat | A Company Blog is the blog for all things Portland Opera, featuring a variety of guest contributors who will provide insider's tidbits on all we do to celebrate the beauty and breadth of opera.

Portland Opera’s 2013 Summer Class Begins!

Logan is taking our Summer Opera Education Class: "Putting it Together."  We asked her to share her experiences throughout this 8-week interactive class.  Updates will be posted weekly.  Enjoy!


The Summer Opera Education Class “Putting It Together” has begun! This is a fantastic opportunity to get a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse into the Portland Opera and its productions. Twenty-one opera fanatics (including myself) have set aside each Wednesday evening for the next eight weeks to be educated, enlightened, and engrossed in the lessons and lectures of Alexis Hamilton, Manager of Education & Outreach.

Our first class began with a warm welcome and friendly introductions by going around the room sharing our names and our first opera experiences. My first opera experience had actually been with the Portland Opera, and I’ve been hooked ever since: I saw the double feature of Pagliacci and Carmina Burana, directed by Christopher Mattaliano in 2010. After we shared our first operas with several oohs and ahs of reminiscence, Alexis took us on a quick tour of The Hampton Opera Center, hinting at the different stages of opera production to be discussed in lessons to come.

Once we had settled back into the classroom in one of the studios, Alexis began her opera lecture starting with the ultimate question, “What is opera?” She then dissected the elements that make opera such a beautiful, unique art form. Such elements include the shift from polyphonic music to monody, operatic techniques, voice types, and their subgenres, etc. There were many technical terms such as ‘tessitura,’ ‘passaggio,’ and ‘cadenza’ that stirred many questions. I found it was very refreshing to be in an environment where people make inquiries to provoke a meaningful discussion through a shared love of opera. I could see it on Alexis’s face that she enjoyed answering them, but as she said, “We’re going down a rabbit hole” and would have ended up discussing terms all night … which we would have been fine with. Everything was very insightful and informative, and this background helped our understanding of opera when we continued on to discuss the different eras of classical music and opera.

 Because there were so many great thought-provoking questions throughout the class, we were running short of time, so Alexis accepted the challenge of squeezing in 400 years of opera into about fifteen minutes. She managed to fill every one of those fifteen minutes with information about Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and even verismo opera: composers, singers, roles, and the differences between the genres. I found the differences to be the most interesting; the push and pull balancing act of emotion and power the singers had from era to era.

We ended the class at nine o’clock on the dot, although I could tell everyone wanted to stay well into the night to keep talking about opera. I know I did! This first class was a superb kick-off for the next several weeks. This opening lecture had a great balance of informative lecture and thoughtful, engaging discussion and I can tell this class series is going to be the best yet. I can’t wait to go back next week to see what’s in store!

Truly yours,

Logan Stewart

Filed under: