- Resident Artists
Name: Alexis Hamilton
Position: Manager of Education & Outreach
Sexy one-line summary of what you do at the opera:
Create and facilitate cradle to grave programming to increase awareness of and delight in opera.
No, really: what is it you do?
Whew...well, I am kind of a jack of all trades, really. My job grew around my skill set so I write all the study guides for the mainstage operas, design curriculum for Portland Opera To Go, lecture on our mainstage operas, manage the bookings and personnel for Portland Opera To Go...sometimes tour manage Portland Opera To Go, write pithy paragraphs for promo sometimes, run Destination Opera..really, I function as the go-to gal for people's more in-depth questions about opera. I have a nice library, am a great googler and have learned a lot on the job. You got questions? I got answers. Even if you don't like them....
How long have you worked at the opera?
In what capacity? As a full time employee, I have been here 11 (Egads! Who knew I'd be this old?) years and I have been associated with the opera either a chorister or a young artis since about 1994.
Were you involved with music before working with the opera? Are you a life-long opera fan, or new to the art?
I majored in Music with an emphasis on Vocal Performance. I was actually a double major in visual art and music, but gave up the art degree because my art teachers didn't really like my art--not "arty" enough--so I focussed on music. I like telling stories and I found that I can tell stories really, really well as an operatic mezzo soprano. Though, I still get to tell stories when I am teaching, lecturing, writing...
What's your background? Where did you grow up? Where did you go to school, and what did you study?
Dad was in the Air Force so I travelled a lot. I really thrived on new places and new things...I still get a "four year itch!" I have lived in Portland longer than any other place. Most of my musical education comes from the University of Montana--actually a fine music school. I had some fantastic professors. My degree is from PSU though...and I was on a VERY long degree path...the 20 year degree path...I had like 250 credits and no degree, so I went to a counsellor at PSU and said, cobble me together something...I am overeducated and don't have a piece of paper to prove it!
What do you do in your spare time?
Wow...I still do shows. I love to knit. I have discovered needle felting (!!!); I read voraciously...I have a husband, 7-year-old boy, three cats and a new puppy named Loki. (Blogger note: Look for Loki in an upcoming post!). So I guess the question really is, "What spare time?"
What's the craziest/funniest thing that's ever happened to you in your position?
That's a hard one...The funniest thing that ever happened to me while working for the Portland Opera was actually having Richard Zeller step on the train of my dress during Romeo et Juliette, effectively trapping me on stage with him as the lights came up. The chorus was all supposed to have exited, and I was on my way out, when he stepped back and caught my train. When his lights came up, I was trapped there with him. He looked down at me, and I frantically whispered (in French), "Excusez-moi," while gently tilting my head toward the floor and my hem. Needless to say, he moved!
What's the best part about the job?
Teaching, absolutely. I love to teach and I get the same thrill from it that I do from being in a show. I am nerdy and love doing the reading and research, and I love having the luxury of follwing any rabbit hole I want to in the pursuit of an awesome study guide.
What's the hardest part of the job?
Having to say no. I never want to turn down a school who wants to come to dress rehearsal or book Portland Opera to Go, and sometimes it is just not possible.
If you could travel back in time to any performance in history, which would it be and why?
Gosh...I have two. One: I would like to be at the performance of Don Giovanni when the child Charles Gounod was there. I want to be sitting next to him to see and hear him clutch his momma's arm and whisper, "Mama, that is REAL music!" And I want to be at the performance of Verdi's Aida that the young Puccini walked 26 miles to see...again, I want to sit next to Puccini to see the look on his face when the bolt of lightning hit him -- that HE wanted to compose operas, too.
Given the choice, would it be better if you were only able to tell lies, or if you had to scream out every true thought that crossed your mind?
Oh, sweet Mother of God--telling lies, of course! Nobody wants to know what I REALLY think!