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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 in the Windy City- Act III

Touring the Windy City
On Friday morning we started our day with a tour of the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park:

Photo 1- Act III

The home and studio were clearly the creation of a unique architectural mind. Wright disliked attics and basements because they gather clutter, so there are none in his home. He preferred open spaces and minimal furniture, so some of the rooms have padded benches built in to the walls. He loved nature and sunlight, so every room has abundant windows and views relating to what is outside in the yard.

He loved music, and had a piano built in to the wall (again, to keep as much open space as possible) of his music room. He also had an upper balcony installed to provide a place for his children to put on plays for the adults. Here we are in the music room:

Photo 2- Act III

As luck would have it, our own John McCormac grew up a few blocks away from Wright's house! Our tour van took a detour to John's street, where he showed us his childhood home. He explained that his mother had the city replace the "Dead End" sign on his street because she so disliked seeing those words every day. It was changed to something like "No Outlet."

With John and Ginny McCormac, in his neighborhood:

Photo 3- Act III

Joe suggested we go to Portillo's for lunch, famous for it's Chicago style hot dogs, and other quick grub. It was utter chaos. It reminded me of a Jets game from back home in NJ - very high energy and loud, with crowds of people shouting out orders and running around with plates of hot dogs, beers, and whatnot. It's clearly very popular with the locals, but the place was nuts:

Photo 4- Act III

Jacqueline, who is incredibly attentive and professional as a tour guide, was mortified by this place. But once we got over the initial shock, we had fun and felt we got a true piece of local color.

Photo 5- Act III

It turns out Portillo's has a very colorful history - it started as a shack with no bathrooms or running water. You can read about it here.

Or you can ask Peter Bilotta, who dutifully studied the Portillo's history printed on his menu:

Photo 6- Act III

Tonight - back to the opera!