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.
Jess Crawford is our primary blogger.
Jess spends much of her time eating enormous amounts of cake, making long lists of books she'll probably never read, and challenging people to arm-wrestling contests.
During the day (and sometimes at night) she is Portland Opera's music librarian.
She writes more about her escapades at her personal blog: http://bravissimi.blogspot.com
Rehearsals for The Marriage of Figaro started yesterday! The halls are filled with Mozart! I'll have plenty to tell you about the show once things are in full swing. For now, I thought this would be a great time to introduce you to Figaro.
This is Figaro. He's generously agreed to answer some questions about himself for this month's staff profile.
Position: Costume Kitty. My ID badge says so.
I have to wear it on my collar because I don't have thumbs.
How long have you worked at the opera? I started on the job this spring.
Were you involved with music before working with the opera? Are you a life-long opera fan, or new to the art? Well, to be honest, I still haven't seen my first opera. I'm really more of a behind-the-scenes sort of fellow. I like to supervise the costume fittings. (Don't tell Frances, our costume shop manager -- I let her think she's in charge). I do sometimes saunter into the Music Studio, if somebody leaves the door open for me, so sometimes I get to peek in on rehearsals. Everyone is always so pleased to see me, I figure sometimes it's just nice to pop your head in and say hello.
I also spend a lot of time in the box office. I like to hear how ticket sales are going. And there are a lot of warm laps in there.
What's your background? Where did you grow up? I grew up in northeast Portland. I don't really talk about my early life. Before I came to the opera, I had a very brief but pleasant stay with a nice guy named Jona, who works in the opera warehouse. But his house was pretty full of other cats, so I ended up here.
What do you do in your spare time? I like to hang out in the hallway. Sometimes the nice people in the box office will make paper balls for me. They seem to know just what I like: A nice, paw-sized paper ball that I can bat down the hallway. Sometimes they play tricks on me and plant the ball behind one of the pictures on the wall, so I have to jump to get it down.
I also really love to knock things off the tables in the costume shop. All those pins are so shiny when they fall on the floor.
Sometimes, if it's late at night and I hear somebody out in the hall, I do my best impression of an opera singer. They'll usually poke their head in to say hello.
What's the best part about the job? All the soft things to sleep on. Plus, it just seems like everyone is so happy to see me all the time. I think I really bring a certain something to this company.
What's the hardest part of the job? It seems like every time I settle down on a nice scrap of fabric, somebody needs it for something. Why do they always choose to work on the thing I'm sitting on? People are always like that.
Also, sometimes there are loud noises in the shop. I hate those noises!
If you could travel back in time to any performance in history, which would it be and why? Well, you shouldn't let this get out, because I know it's not really opera, but I'd love to have been able to attend the premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats. Obviously.
Also, I'd love to see a performance of Duetto buffo di due gatti -- "duet for two cats." People say Rossini wrote it, but I'm pretty sure that's not true.
There's also that great cat scene in L'Enfant et les Sortileges, which unfortunately I wasn't here to see. Still, anytime cats get to be in classical music, I am down with that.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be? Kitty mind-meld. I keep head-butting people, thinking maybe it will work this time, but no luck so far.
Thanks for the interview, Figaro. Do you think I could get a picture with you? Usually I really don't go for this sort of thing, but okay. Just this once. But you have to come down here to take it.
We're hosting a blog post from the local blog Art Scatter to share another account of Portland Opera's Big Night. This post was co-written by a mother, father, and their 13 year old son, who all attended the event. Enjoy!
The Scatter Family minus one headed downtown Saturday night to Portland Opera’s season-opening Big Night gala concert, an indoors/outdoors spectacle that also included pizza, rockabilly, giant walking heads, and an after-concert showing of the Marx Brothers’ side-splitting operatic thrashing A Night at the Opera on an oversized screen hanging above the front entrance of the Keller Auditorium.
The Scatter Family? Yes, Mr. and Mrs. Scatter (Bob Hicks and Laura Grimes) and the Small Large Smelly Boy (age 13), who loves ballet and whistles opera whenever he thinks strangers aren’t listening. We fondly call him Felix/Martha (Felix Unger/Martha Stewart), but it really should be Felix/Frasier/Niles/Martha (if you have to ask then you haven’t laughed through the Frasier TV sitcom, where Frasier and Niles are hilarious opera-loving sons of a crusty retired police officer).
We invited a Big Night concert and gala attendee to share her experience of the event. Here's what our guest blogger, Diana Harris, had to say:
This blog is contributed by Diana Harris, author of "Reflections of a Civil War Locomotive Engineer" and Portland Opera supernumerary, last seen on the Keller stage in Pagliacci. She also serves on the Board of Directors of both Portland Opera and the Portland Baroque Orchestra.
Although I grew up hearing the Metropolitan Opera broadcast on the radio every Saturday afternoon, I didn't realize I loved opera until I bought standing-room tickets at the Old Met when I was a college student. My husband Gary and I have been subscribers and supporters of Portland Opera since we moved here nearly 20 years ago; so of course we bought tickets for the pre-concert cocktail party + concert + after-party with the cast—all the proceeds of which went to benefit POGO, Portland Opera's outreach to schools across the state.
Diana and her husband, Gary
In the event, as journalists like to say, our expectations were wildly exceeded. We were happy to see the crowd beginning to gather in and around the Keller Fountain. Once inside, we were delighted to see that so many of our fellow aficionados had purchased tickets for the benefit. Then we enjoyed delicious food and beverages before the Main Event.