What did you think of RINALDO?

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Photo by Cory Weaver.


When is a representative from

When is a representative from the Opera going to tell us what the heck that dirty sink was all about?

I loved the ladies who played Almirena and Armida. Armida's dramatic entrance with the furies was fantastic. The rest of the singers were pretty good, but many seemed to have difficulty with the Baroque ornamentation.

I also would have preferred a countertenor in the lead role. I've seen other operas with sopranos playing a castrato role, and I have a hard time getting my suspension of disbelief to kick in.

In all, I didn't actually mind the staging, other than the sink. I thought it was interesting that the crazy fabric of the military uniforms kept popping up all over the place, and it helped create a sense of what belonged to which side. It did make them comical, but I already had a hard time taking a woman in a pompadour seriously (as a knight, anyway.)

This production has many

This production has many great things going for it...the wonderful intimacy of the Newmark Theater, the vivid colors and lighting effects, beautiful singing, the Portland Baroque Orchestra, and more. The gals who played Almirena and Armida have clearly been paying attention in their acting classes! Well done, ladies! I was delighted every time they came onstage. All the cast members delivered fine singing, but fine singing plus compelling acting raises the bar on operatic performance, especially with contemporary audiences.
One negative I will call out is that the sink was a distraction...it was never used or referred to, and it looked oddly dirty. But overall I enjoyed the performance. I'm a season ticket holder, and must confess I have avoided the Resident Artist productions...until now, that is. Resident Artists, you have a new fan and supporter! I look forward to your next production!

RINALDO In more than 40 years

In more than 40 years of attending live performances,this is the first one I left early.

My wife and I LOVED this

My wife and I LOVED this production! The young singers were all spectacular, and we greatly appreciated the HIP aspects of the performance. It was true delight to hear the sonorities of Portland Baroque playing with style and dash on authentic instruments. All the dacapo arias were tastefully and impressively ornamented - wonderful! The opera was performed tongue-in-cheek (really no other choice given its silly plot!) and was hilariously done. We are not fans of conventional opera (Wagner and Verdi really don't do anything for us) but the bold production of an opera like Rinaldo is what caused us to come up from Eugene for this very special performance. Our deepest thanks to Portland Opera and its talented young singers for taking this one on and succeeding in such a spectacular way!

Very nice to read your

Very nice to read your perspective! I am generally a stickler for the classics and like them better when performed more true to the period of composition, but years ago when the curtain rose at Fidelio and I saw barbed wire and chain link fence I knew I had choices. Either judge and approach them from my narrow view, or allow the performance to please or disappoint entirely on its own merit. The first hurdle was getting past the twinge of disappointment once it's revealed the opera has been updated/reinterpreted. Time and loyalty to Portland Opera gives me more and more practice at it. Once past this, I have more than once been pleasantly surprised that either the music transcends the distractions of a less-than favorite style of production, or the production is a delight with all these new and creative touches. Both Don Giovanni and Rinaldo fall into the latter category for me this season. Unfortunately I was distractd at the performance I attended for other reasons, but I found Rinaldo nonetheless enchanting.

Looking forward to Falstaff!!

Multi-season ticket-holders

Multi-season ticket-holders trying to learn about opera here, and about Rinaldo in particular: 1) Is the Portland company able to produce an event closer to what it might have looked like in the original? 2) If they could, would Portlanders go? 3) What did the sink mean? 4) Why did Armida start to disrobe at the end of the second act? Thank you in advance for any enlightenment!

It was a mixed bag. The main

It was a mixed bag.

The main point for me to go to operas is to get all dressed up and be entertained and escape reality for about 3 hours. Thus, it was a success here.

However, a lot of little things bothered me. First, I'm not sure why Rinaldo was cast with a woman. No offense to the female who played Rinaldo, but Rinaldo is a manly man, one who has the respect of his military, fear of god from the enemy, love of his Almirena, and hatred toward Armida to the point he wants to tear her apart for kidnapping Almirena. You cannot have a female for a role Handel envisioned a man's role without the audience second guessing to the point of distracting from the opera in general.

Next, I didn't care for the 20th century military uniforms, especially when stuff like 12th century swords were used as props. The dress and even the shoes Almirena wore was a bit much to the point of almost freaky-out-of-control.

Stage setting didn't bother me; it was fine. I'm usually impartial to stage settings (but if I make a big comment on the stage setting, like how terrible the stage setting was for Don Giovani and how awesome it was for Tosca, that should say something).

I really liked the female playing Armida. You could tell she was enjoying her role.

I got the sense the comedy/amusing aspects (down to the Popeye tattoo on the arms of the sailors) of the opera was more creative-improvisation. So although it was amusing to me, I wonder what the opera would had been like if it was set in it's original theme, crusade time, real knights and Arab warriors, and a tone Handel probably envisioned- probably would be a pretty powerful opera that ranks up there with the greats.

I can adress the casting

I can adress the casting choice of Rinaldo. Originally this role would have been played by an ALTO CASTRATO, a castrated male with a singing voice equivalent to a mezzo-soprano. Since there are no castrated male singers anymore, these roles are usually assumed by women. This of course sacrifices the gender congruity of the role in order to stay true to the musical aesthetic.

I logged on using my wife's

I logged on using my wife's name because I could not access my account. I have attended the Portland Opera for many years coming down from Seattle by myself and others times with friends. I have also paid in a professional opera orchestra for 5 years and I a major symphony for two years and taught cello at the college level for 5 years. I am a musician and I know opera.
This was probally the WORST performance of any opera I have ever attended.Rinaldo is not a comic opera-at least Handel did not think so. The staging was absurd. The jerking hand motions were downright stupid. The costumes looked like they were part of a cheap party. The singing was so sub par that I had to leave at the first intermission. The cuts made to the score were uncalled for. And, oh, how about Counter Tenors or do you not care for what Handel wanted.
A college company would have done a better job. You did a dis service to music, opera, Handel and the audience.
This performance would make me think twice about making the trip again.

I have enjoyed recent

I have enjoyed recent productions by the Resident Artists (formerly Studio Artists) and am a big Handel fan, so I was looking forward to Renaldo. Unfortunately, a number of problems with this production left me with mixed feelings. Although I have nothing against good updating, the sets and costumes were just plain inappropriate and incomprehensible. The stage direction was very uneven – mostly absent in the first act and excessive in the later acts. The singers, with the exception of Lindsay Ohse, seemed in over their heads. The big arias were well done, but the rest of the singing left something to be desired. Ohse has a big voice and is clearly destined for better things, but her acting was over the top (maybe the fault of the director). A big disappointment was the lack of a countertenor, or at least a mezzo who can handle pants roles. Caitlin Mathes has a lovely voice, but was miscast as Rinaldo, and Hannah Penn sounded breathy and scared to death. As noted by others, the orchestra was terrific. I hope PDX Opera doesn’t give up on Handel, but these operas are not easy and need to be taken more seriously.

I attended the first half of

I attended the first half of the Thursday night performance. The singing was quite solid, the orchestra was without major problems. The setting (Newmark Theater) is a great for such chamber operas.

I have to agree with many of the comments, however, that the setting was distracting. I enjoy modern adaptations. The Flying Dutchman and Turandot were well done modern productions. I guess this performance was an ironic/sardonic/camp production(?). This worked alright for the parts of the opera that are a bit silly and I did find myself laughing at the over the top silliness in depicting discussions of war-making. I should say that I found myself laughing despite the constant chuckling around me.

The serious parts of the opera do not work with that particular ironic tone. The music of the Rinaldo's lament after his lover disappears is very lovely and very moving but people around me continued to consider it ironic, I guess, or at least funny in some way. That was puzzling but also very distracting. And I left at the break because I didn't want to fight to focus on the music over the audience members running commentary of tittering and chuckles. Maybe I should have had a couple more drinks before the show.

This production made me

This production made me really angry, and as I've endured many undistinguished, poorly staged opera productions in my life (many of them, unfortunately, at Portland Opera), I've had to ask myself why this particular production drew such a strong reaction from me. I love Baroque opera and Handel in particular, so I was looking forward to attending a "live" performance of Rinaldo. But from the first few moments I knew the staging was going to be a barrier to enjoyment.

What was the point of this very tired staging? It's no longer new or "edgy" to update an opera or present something meta-textual. It's not new to present royalty as high school prom queens and kings. I'm not unhappy with inventive stagings in general as long as they are insightful and respectful of the music and the intentions of the composer. But this production of Rinaldo failed to be insightful, respectful, inventive or even interesting.

The 1960s costumes and tumble-down warehouse sets have been seen in hundreds of productions since the 1970s, when the aesthetic was actually new and interesting. The bits of humor were broad, obvious and tiresome, not even at TV sitcom level. The singing was okay, for the most part, with the exception of Sharin Apostolou, who was excellent. And the PBO's beautiful playing deserved something far better than what the conductor had to look at on the stage.

Here's my complaint: If you don't believe in an opera, why stage it? Rinaldo is about love, honor, war and redemption. If you think those things are a joke, then why stage this opera? If you're going to belittle every emotion expressed by every character, then you have completely undercut the power and the beauty of Rinaldo's aria "Cara sposa", one of the most beautiful laments in opera, or Almira's lovely "Lascia ch'io pianga". In this production, everything is a joke, a cheap joke, and that is not interesting or inventive or daring or amusing. It's just sad. And another occasion is lost to hear good opera in Portland - REAL opera - opera by people who believe in opera as a beautiful, powerful, illuminating and enlightening art form. It's easier to be clever (or to think yourself clever)than to do the hard work of finding how to make an opera live on stage, how to open it up to the audience and how to make it sing.

Thoroughly enjoyed Rinaldo,

Thoroughly enjoyed Rinaldo, but very glad I attended the pre and post discussions to better understand what was going on and why. The music was lovely, both the singing and the PBO.

My wife and I were excited to

My wife and I were excited to go to this Opera, because we love Handl. We thought the two female leads and the orchestra were excellent, from there the singing was good but not great. As far as the production we both felt more and more disgusted as the show went on. Why some one has to create a prodution that either one loves or hates with no inbetween is beyond me. The partial disrobing of the holy man with tatoos was particularly insulting and offensive. This is our first opera production and I feel hesitant about returning.

Having a woman play the lead

Having a woman play the lead Rinaldo was edgy and daring and awful! It distracted from the beautiful music and other good singers. We walked out at intermission. A first for us.

I agree, Blue. In addition,

I agree, Blue. In addition, the costuming I thought was awful. This is a period piece, and trying to make it modern was not successful. It worked in "Fidelio"; it didn't work here. And it seemed out of place to have the most beautiful and emotional rendition of "Lascia ch'io pianga" I have ever experienced, coupled with what was otherwise a farce. The singing was great, especially some of the improv work, except that it was obvious that the male parts sung by females didn't work. They had a lot of problems hitting the lower notes. Do we not have anyone who can sing counter-tenor parts? Is it just that PO doesn't like doing Handelian Opera? It never seems to work. The lone redeeming factor was the orchestra.

We watched the Glyndebourne

We watched the Glyndebourne version of Rinaldo on Blue Ray disc before attending the Portland Opera performance. We thoroughly enjoyed the Portland Opera adaptation and found it much more engaging than the Glyndebourne version. However we are glad we watched the disc version as we found it much easier to follow the "storyline" having seen it on disc before attending.

The PBQ was wonderful to

The PBQ was wonderful to listen to. However, singing Handel requires some ability to sing coloratura arias, and that ability was sorely lacking. Armida came close, but her sound is not pretty. The rest of the cast was woefully miscast. This is not an opera for small, inexperienced voices. Very disappointing, but not surprising.

I like most really enjoyed

I like most really enjoyed the performance. The singers all did a fantastic job and the orchestra was amazing. The staging and sets were a bit odd and I too would like to know why the sink...

The Portland Opera really delivers every time. This is our first year as members and it has been wonderful so far. We are happy to have signed up for next year. Thanks for a great show.

A fine production! I enjoyed

A fine production! I enjoyed it so much more than the "Euro-Trash" production I saw last year at the Chicago Lyric Opera. It is interesting to read our audience's take on this opera. Knowing that in the time it was written and first performed the castrati singers were idolized makes the mezzo's "pants-roles" more understandable. In the Chicago production a woman played Rinaldo, too, and counter-tenors sang some of the other roles. As to the comments regarding the costumes and sets, I wonder how our audience would have liked Chicago's post-apocalyptic costumes and very puzzling stage sets.
I always enjoy the Resident Artists' productions and I thought this was the best one so far. I love seeing Portland Opera's former residents performing again after being launched into the opera world. I especially enjoyed the performance of Sharon Apostalu. Her voice seems even richer.
My 18-year-old grandson and I had a great time at "RInaldo."

Was not sure what to expect

Was not sure what to expect since I am not too familiar with baroque opera and the Messiah is the major work of Handel's that I am familiar with. I enjoyed the singers, the orchestra and the staging was interesting. I thought it was a bit baudy but thinking of when and where it was composed I can understand. If anyone is questioning whether they should see it or not I would say go for it.

"Befuddled" said it for me in

"Befuddled" said it for me in the Oregonian revue. I wasn't befuddled by the music or the singers or the wonderful Portland Baroque Orchestra,

I was befuddled by a production that missed the mark on a clear context/conceit of what the production was supposed to be and the providing of a subtext for the story to play against.

The opening of Act 1 was a wonderful Tableaux Vivant that placed the hastily-raised arras of the Crusaders against the timeless tile iconography of the defenders. I thought it would progress from there. But it didn't. The first act was a succession of singers thrust forward to perform with no tension created for them. Act 2 got better about half way through when a playfulness began to develop between the characters and the set and the props. This continued into a much tighter Act 3, with laughs and the Battleship game.

But the dramatic action, the sets, and the costunes didn't work together to make a coherant production. Thus "Befuddled". But to be befuddled by Chas Reider-Schreiber who has directed 10 Handel operas! His usual collaborator David Zinn was not a part of this production as he was for the other 10 Handels and many other productions. Lyric Opera Chicago just had a big success with Rinaldo, so it can be done.

What does it take to handle Handel?

I enjoyed this opera very

I enjoyed this opera very much. Both the singing and the orchestra were excellent. The decision to use women for two of the male roles was pretty much forced by the nature of the music. There are different ways to handle this and making the costumes and staging a bit silly and cute was a reasonable approach, I thought.

I was deeply disappointed by

I was deeply disappointed by the production.The musical performances by the cast and orchestra were excellent. Unfortunately, those are the only positive things I saw and heard on Sunday.
The director will never return, I hope. His production made the outlandish costuming and sets even more jarring. I never could imagine Handel presented as a burlesque parody with over-played jokes and gestures, some offensive but none ever appropriate.

I hope this is a mistake to learn from and will never be repeated.

Ed Gronke

I love Baroque Opera and

I love Baroque Opera and thought as I always have that Portland Opera is world class. I have been a subscriber for about 10 years and always look forward to the new season. Rinaldo was enchanting. Thank you for putting on a fine performance.

I have one concern I hope Portland Opera can address. Unfortunately Sunday's production would've been flawless had Handel written in the incessant chatter of a disrespectful audience and the never ending unwrapping of irresistable candies and cough drops. What a fine touch, had these been intended. They were unmistaken, and unrelenting thoughout the first act. I cannot understand how a person thinks, who would talk during such an event, thinking somehow their casual remarks add to the composers genius, to the discipline and committment of the orchestra, the singers, and production staff. If they assume the current of "peas and carrots" can't be heard by those around them than they need to be told they are wrong, and if they do not care than they should be asked to leave.

Like the reminder given to folks prior to the performance regarding electronic devices, it would be helpful that the same instructions are given regarding conversation and candy unwrapping.

I made a few comments to my

I made a few comments to my date during this opera, because honestly, I found it less than riveting. See my review below for why. While I appreciate your desire to hear every note etc., it seems to me that Handel DID write the incessant chatter in to his opera. Opera in his time had people calling to each other across the concert hall and was an altogether much more raucous affair than anything you are going to see at the Portland Opera.

Personally, I would rather hear a cough drop wrapper than an actual cough. I'm not saying that people should yell with impunity, but I was there and I obviously didn't hear what you heard. Perhaps your area of the audience was more populated with impolite people. I was able to hear pretty much every note and see everything on the second balcony. I recommend seats there in that theater.

That opera in the 1700's was

That opera in the 1700's was a different social experience perfectly justifies whispering one's displeasure in the ear of their date at every opportunity. It was a long production and for some in the first balcony apparently less than riveting.

We saw Rinaldo yesterday

We saw Rinaldo yesterday afternoon and I have mixed feelings about it.

First, some of the singers' voices actually hurt my ears. They were quite harsh. This was at the beginning of the opera. I planned on loving this opera but ended up only liking it.

Not sure if two of the male roles were supposed to be women but it was hard for me to figure out who was singing when two of the mens' voices were actually women acting the mens' roles. I didn't enjoy that.

Someone said they preferred the Newmark theater. I prefer the Keller.

If someone knows the significance of the very dirty sink below the ornate mirror on the wall, I would love to hear about it.

Wonderful opera with superb

Wonderful opera with superb singing, acting and great set and costumes. My daughter is a Young Artist with another company, and I know how hard these young people work. But all the work in the world is not enough for good opera. This one sparkled with good timing, great tricks to keep the eye alert between arias, colors that reflected the verve of the score. Thank you for warmth on a cold and bleak Oregon March day. I think Portland Opera is a cure for anything that ails you.

The singers and music were

The singers and music were wonderful. Best of all was the venue--the Keller is just too large, and the Newmark is just right. It would be wonderful if the entire season were performed at the Newmark, though I suppose this would be costly (more performances to maintain revenue maybe?) Also appreciated was the elimination of the talk beforehand--theater, opera, film, at the their best, create a kind of trance for the viewer. Anything that breaks this trance diminishes the impact of the work. The little "talk" at the front starts the proceedings on the wrong foot--the trance is broken before the start. Better to start with the orchestra tuning, playing the intro, and then the show. The little "talk" would be far better relegated to the program.

I know this is beyond the control of Portland Opera, but it would be nice if a better reviewer could be found for the Oregonian. The review of Rinaldo in this morning's paper wasted a fair amount of space discussing tiny details irrelevant to the enjoyment of the opera itself.

She didn't have the great

She didn't have the great dress or the cute red umbrella, but Caitlin Mathes was the woman to hear.

About what I expected. I have

About what I expected. I have to clarify that I am not a particular fan of baroque music in general. It is a little too "paint by numbers" for my tastes. However, it was pretty neat to hear the Portland Baroque Orchestra and see a production in the intimate Newmark Theater. We sat in the "nosebleed" seats and heard and saw everything quite well. I did think that the "Captain Stubing meets Liberace" snakeskin uniforms on the crusaders seemed a bit out of place, not matching the rest of the costumes. I loved the giant turban with the pheasant feathers and Armida's big hoop skirt style dress with the powdered wig. Not to mention her interesting headgear in the third act...you'll know it when you see it, but that is kind of my point. I thought the choices of costumes were slightly at odds with each other. Not sure what the designers were trying to say there...

Like I said, I liked hearing the Portland Baroque orchestra. It did seem that some of the wind players had a hard time keeping up in some of the more difficult sounding passages. As far as Rinaldo (and Eustazio) being sung by women, well, men who can sing in those vocal ranges are a bit uncommon nowadays, castration being looked down upon. If the part was written for that range, then the gender of the singer is kind of a non-issue in my opinion.

I have been an opera lover since I was a child (I am 43 now,) and have always found that a little bit of research before going goes a long way toward enhancing the enjoyment of any production. At the very least, one needs to read the story first, and with an opera like Rinaldo, written several hundred years ago after all, understanding the musical styles of the time is key. As I said, it was about what I expected to see and hear.

I am more of a fan of late 19th/early 20th century opera, (and classical music in general) that doesn't adhere to so many "rules." However, understanding the historical context of the time in which the opera wqs written helps the listener understand, musically, what is going on and can very much add to the enjoyment of any production.

The singers were great. I wouldn't steer anyone away from this production, just know what you are getting into before you go. It ain't Tosca.

Remarkably unremarkable.

Remarkably unremarkable. Crusaders wearing 20th century military uniforms? The role of the hero sung by a soprano? I could count on one hand the number of times I have walked out of a performance at intermission and this was one of them. The orchestra and the singing were very good. The production was not.

It was amazing! Both the

It was amazing! Both the singers and the orchestra had to really work hard and have a lot of stamina and ability to pull it off, and they did. The most beautiful aria was sung by Sharin Apostolou and it was simply breathtaking to hear. I could go on and on but instead just suggest, if you like opera, it is well worth hearing.