Portland Opera Announces 2011/12 Season: When Our World Changes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  January 14, 2011
CONTACT: Julia Sheridan, 503-295-3508
Download PDF



Bernstein  CANDIDE

(Portland, Ore.)—Portland Opera General Director Christopher Mattaliano has officially announced the details of the 2011-12 Season, the Company’s 47th Season and Mr. Mattaliano’s eighth as General Director.  The season—“When Our World Changes”—explores some of the most electrifying points in our shared human history, times when our world changed in extraordinary ways.  Galileo’s new universal order.  The French Revolution.  The reaction to the Age of Enlightenment.  And the opening of Asia to the Western World.  “Opera has the power to have an extraordinary effect on audiences and their lives,” noted Mr. Mattaliano.  “This season it is our hope that the communal experience of enjoying opera together will provide us all with the ability to look forward to our unknown future with hope and optimism.”

The season begins on a spectacular, star-studded note with a Company first—Portland Opera’s Big Night.  All proceeds from this special, season-opening Gala Concert, featuring headliners soprano Maria Kanyova, who made an impressive debut in 2008 as Violetta in La Traviata, and tenor Richard Crawley, remembered for his recent performance as Canio in Pagliacci, will benefit the Opera’s Education and Outreach efforts, helping to keep music in the lives of our children and grandchildren throughout the state of Oregon and SW Washington. Joining Ms. Kanyova and Mr. Crawley will be the acclaimed Portland Opera Orchestra and Chorus. “We’re pulling out all the stops,” said Mr. Mattaliano, “for an evening of unabashed Opera celebration, with everyone’s favorite arias, duets, choruses and orchestral pieces.  It will definitely be an evening not to be missed.”

The 2011-12 Season continues with an opulent look at Mozart’s THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO.  Mozart’s masterwork focuses on the delicate, and historically controversial, interplay between the nobility and serving class in a way that is both humorous and touchingly human. The season’s emotional rollercoaster reaches a zenith with Puccini’s MADAME BUTTERFLY.  One of the greatest tragic operas of all time, MADAME BUTTERFLY never fails to wring tears and win hearts from audiences that are expected to include many first-time opera attendees. The always popular Portland Opera Studio program returns to the intimate Newmark Theatre with an all-new and locally designed, West Coast premiere of Philip Glass’ GALILEO GALILEI. This production marks the composer’s second appearance at Portland Opera after the hugely successful Company premiere in 2009 of Orphée.  And the season ends on a brilliant note with Christopher Mattaliano’s original production of Leonard Bernstein’s CANDIDE.  A feast for the eyes and a whirlwind escapade of an evening, the production uses innovative projections to whisk the audience around the world with the naïve hero in search of goodness, beauty and truth.


September 24, 2011
Special Season-Opening Gala Concert
All Proceeds to Benefit Portland Opera’s Education and Outreach Efforts

Portland Opera’s Big Night will be a big night in many, many ways.  A spectacular gala concert in Keller Auditorium featuring all that is big and beloved in opera—the hits, the voices, the choruses, the orchestra! Soprano MARIA KANYOVA and tenor RICHARD CRAWLEY headline an evening of favorite opera arias and duets from the world’s most popular operas.  Add to that, the local stars of Portland Opera—the stellar Portland Opera Orchestra and Chorus— together on the Keller stage for the first time.  The concert benefits the very important work of the Portland Opera Education and Outreach Department, whose efforts provide the largest presence in Oregon schools of any arts organization in Portland.  The evening’s musical festivities will be led by New York City Opera Music Director—and Portland favorite—conductor George Manahan.

Subscribers will have two options for attending this special evening:  the “Notte Grande” package with best seating, pre-concert cocktail party and post-show soiree with the stars of the evening; as well as a concert tickets only option.  Because this is a one-night-only celebration, it is expected to sell out during the subscription renewal period and renewing subscribers are urged to renew as early as possible in order to guarantee seating.


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
November 4, 6m, 10, 12, 2011

Of all Mozart’s operas, The Marriage of Figaro stands as one of the most beloved by modern audiences and one of opera’s greatest comic masterpieces. A classic tale about the delicate nature of fidelity and trust, it is considered by many to be the most perfect opera ever written.  Mozart’s music is well-crafted and sophisticated as well as tuneful and infectious.  Da Ponte’s dialogue is subtle, witty and involving.  Together they create a delightful web of intrigue that turns conventions upside down.

The story unfolds as jack-of-all-trades, Figaro, and the lovely Susanna, both servants to Count Almaviva, prepare for their much-anticipated wedding.  Unknown to Figaro, the Count has his eye on Susanna and plans to exercise his “droit de seigneur,” his right as a nobleman to sleep with any servant on her wedding night.  When the Countess, pining away in her loveless marriage, catches wind of her husband’s adulterous advances, the action takes off.  In a single, whirlwind day, delightful mayhem ensues, concluding with one of the most touching and human finales in all of opera.

Figaro explores territory that was considered controversial when it was written in the mid-1780s — the often contentious relationship between nobility and the serving class.  The original play, by Beaumarchais, was banned by ruling authorities in France and is credited with leading to the French Revolution.  Mozart's opera made the Austrian monarchy more than a little bit nervous.  Both the play and the opera clearly illuminate the limitations of rank and privilege, showing that common sense can readily overcome wealth and power, and that genuine humility easily upstages unwarranted arrogance.

The cast includes a delicious mix of exciting Company debuts and highly anticipated returns. Singing the title role is baritone DANIEL MOBBS (Leporello in Don Giovanni, 2006, Lord Sidney in The Journey to Reims, 2004).  The New York Times called his recent performance as Figaro in The Barber of Seville “robust [and] sassy.”  Opera News wrote that as Figaro he showed “wit and charm, along with thrilling vocalism.“

Singing Susanna is soprano JENNIFER AYLMER (title role in Rodelinda, 2008).  The New York Times has hailed her for her “awesome accuracy,” and proclaimed that “hearing her live was one of the greatest pleasures.”  The dashing bass baritone DAVID PITTSINGER returns as Count Almaviva (title role in Don Giovanni, 2006).  He appeared recently in Portland as Emile de Becque in the touring Broadway production of the acclaimed South Pacific.  The Los Angeles Downtown News said that his Count was “a gentler, kinder, even likable philanderer.  Even his most evil aria . . . is rendered with genuine charm.” Mezzo soprano JENNIFER HOLLOWAY (The Tales of Hoffmann, 2003) sings Cherubino. New York Magazine noted her “vibrant mezzo-soprano and generous presence.” The Los Angeles Times declared her appearance in Tamerlano at Los Angeles Opera as “noble in bearing and in voice.”  Soprano PAMELA ARMSTRONG (The Tales of Hoffmann, 2003) sings Countess Almaviva.  The New York Times' Anthony Tommasini described her performance in La Rondine for New York City Opera as “lovely, rich-voiced and bittersweet . . . with soaring high notes.”  

Stage Director STEPHEN LAWLESS makes his debut at Portland Opera.  The New York Times said his direction of Don Giovanni at Metropolitan Opera showed “care and intelligence . . . the kind of true theater that opera in general . . . does not often approach.”  Conductor ARI PELTO (Hansel and Gretel, 2010, The Magic Flute, 2007) returns to the podium.  The classic sets were designed by Benoit Dugardyn with costumes by Johann Stegmeir.  Sung in Italian with projected English translations

Giacomo Puccini
February 3, 5m, 9, 11, 2012
Portland Opera Production

Justifiably one of the operatic artforms most popular and enticing operas, Puccini’s work is a goldmine of unforgettable musical moments.  Whether it’s the powerful love duet between Pinkerton and Cio-Cio-San, the famous “Humming Chorus,” or the heart-wrenching “Un bel di,” Madame Butterfly continues to thrill audiences—opera aficionados and newcomers alike—with its staggering, non-stop parade of operatic favorites.

Set in turn-of-the-century Nagasaki, Madame Butterfly is the story of a fragile, but courageous young woman, Cio-Cio-San, and her love for the cavalier—and unthinking—American sailor, Pinkerton.  While he takes his vows very lightly, her love for him is complete and total.  And when he leaves, nothing can persuade her that he will not some day return for her.  The strength and purity of her devotion create some of the most passionate moments in all of opera and an ending of true operatic proportions.

Puccini was shocked by its legendary opening night disaster in 1904, when it was greeted with jeers from the audience.  But after several revisions, Madame Butterfly won instant popularity and became one of opera’s most enduring and beloved works.  Its poignant tale was the inspiration for the hit Broadway musical Miss Saigon.  Now owned by Portland Opera, the sets and costumes were designed by Lloyd Evans and built by New York City Opera.  This production was featured in a PBS telecast and last enjoyed by Portland audiences in 2005.  Sung in Italian with projected English translations.

After becoming an instant favorite when she made her debut here as Mimi in La Bohème, 2009, soprano KELLY KADUCE returns to sing the title role of Cio-Cio-San. Her Santa Fe outing in this role prompted The New York Times to describe her as “gifted and compelling,” noting also that her “warm and tender singing conveyed the aching vulnerability of the . . . trusting Butterfly.”  Opera News praised her as “a superb actress.”  Mezzo soprano KATHRYN DAY returns to reprise her role of Suzuki (Madame Butterfly, 2005).  The Seattle Times lauds her Ulrica in Un Ballo in Maschera at Seattle Opera as a “great success . . . casting a spell of her own in charismatic singing and acting.”  Canadian tenor ROGER HONEYWELL makes his Company debut as Lieutenant Pinkerton.  Opera News called his Laca in Jenufa “vocally strong and reassuring,” and The New York Times called him an “assertive dramatic tenor” with a “burnished sound and crisp diction.”  Also making his Company debut is baritone JOHN HANCOCK who sings Sharpless.  The New York Times declared him “a strong, dark baritone of subtle expressive potential.” CHRISTIAN SMITH (Madame Butterfly, 2005) returns to direct the action and ANNE MANSON (Orphée, 2009) returns to the podium to conduct.

Philip Glass
March 30, April 1m, 3, 5, 7, 2012
Newmark Theatre
All-new Production
West Coast and Portland Opera Premiere

A highly anticipated event each season, the Portland Opera Studio production is a chance for the Company’s young Studio Artists to shine, especially in the intimate setting of the Newmark Theatre.  This season’s Studio Artist production marks the return of composer Philip Glass, whose Orphée made such a significant impact on Portland in 2009.

One of the most interesting composers of our time, minimalist icon Philip Glass has written an opera about one of history’s most visionary figures, astronomer Galileo Galilei.  The result is both explosive and beautiful.

Drawing from the 16th century astronomer’s correspondence with his family, as well as various other documents, this opera retrospectively journeys through Galileo's life.  Opening with him as an old, blind man after his trial by the Inquisition for his heresy, it explores his religiosity as well as his break with the church, and expands into the greater, oscillating relationship of science to both religion and art, reaching its powerful conclusion with Galileo—as a child—watching an opera composed by his father about, of all things, the magical movement of planetary figures.

Galileo Galilei  premiered in 2002 at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago.

The West Coast and Company premiere of Galileo Galilei features the PORTLAND OPERA STUDIO ARTISTS.  The all-new, locally designed and built production will be directed by KEVIN NEWBURY (Nixon in China, 2006) and conducted by ANNE MANSON (Orphée, 2009).  Performed in English with English projections.

Leonard Bernstein
May 11, 13m, 17, 19, 2012
Original Christopher Mattaliano/Portland Opera Production

A combination of Leonard Bernstein’s 20th century musical genius and Voltaire’s 18th century wit, Candide is a comic fantasy based on Voltaire’s novel of the same name. Candide follows the extraordinary adventures of a naïve hero who embraces the philosophy that everything happens for the best. He embarks on a voyage that takes him to every corner of the globe where he expects to find all things true and beautiful. Instead he finds war, pestilence, lechery and a host of other ills.  And as he experiences one hardship after another, he begins to trade his blind optimism for a more realistic view of life.  In the end, having come completely around the globe, he comes to a completely new point of view, that there is both good and ill in the world, but all in all, it’s not such a bad place.

Written just before West Side Story, Candide opened on October 29, 1956 at Boston’s Colonial Theatre.  Already a darling of the American musical scene, Bernstein collaborated with some of the most brilliant literary figures of the time.  Candide’s lyrics were by John Latouche and poet Richard Wilbur, with contributions by Dorothy Parker.  The original libretto was adapted from Voltaire by Lillian Hellman.  The libretto was Hellman’s first attempt for the musical stage and criticisms of this initial version of the play are due much to her attempts to use Candide’s blind faith in Dr. Pangloss’ philosophy of optimism to satirize the equally blind paranoia of McCarthy’s Communist witch hunts of the 1950s.

This multi-media production, created by Christopher Mattaliano, features vivid scenic projections and lightning-fast scene changes to suggest the world as seen through the eyes of Candide as he heads out on his extraordinary adventures.  Performed in English with English projections.

Soprano RACHELE GILMORE makes her Company debut singing Cunegonde.  Last year, with only 3 hours notice, Gilmore made her unscheduled Metropolitan Opera debut as Olympia in The Tales of Hoffman for which she received rave reviews, including the distinction of possibly hitting the highest note ever in the Metropolitan Opera’s history.  Opera News pulled out all the stops in its description of her, saying that she “displayed more talent and charm than any one person should be allowed to possess.”  Always a big hit in Portland, baritone ROBERT ORTH (most recently Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte, 2010, Nixon in Nixon in China, 2006, Trombonok in The Journey to Reims, 2004 amongst many) returns to sing Pangloss, a role he sang here in 2002.  Orth has been hailed by Opera News as a “fixture in contemporary opera.”  They are joined by returning tenor JONATHAN BOYD (Jacquino in Fidelio, 2008, Tamino in The Magic Flute, 2007, Sam in Street Scene, 2005) who will sing the title role of Candide.  Opera News declared him “a standout and having a ravishing mezza voce.”  Making her debut as Old Lady is mezzo soprano ANN MCMAHON QUINTERO.  The Boston Globe praised her in a concert of Handel’s Messiah as having “produced dark, velvety tones and some beautiful, musically sensitive singing.”  Portland Opera General Director CHRISTOPHER MATTALIANO (most recently L’Heure Espagnole/L’Enfant et les Sortilèges, 2011, Pagliacci/Carmina Burana, 2010, The Barber of Seville, 2010, Rigoletto, 2009, Albert Herring, 2008 among others) returns as stage director.  He also directed this production in 2002.  CAL STEWART KELLOGG (Street Scene, 2005) returns as conductor.

Current subscribers will receive renewal packages for the 2011-12 Season beginning January 14, 2011 and have until March 4, 2011 to renew their subscriptions.  Subscription renewals guarantee best patron seating, priority preference for seat change requests, along with a host of special subscriber benefits.

Subscriptions can be renewed:
•    Online at www.portlandopera.org
•    By mail or in person at The Hampton Opera Center, 211 SE Caruthers St., Portland, OR 97214
•    By phone at 503-241-1802 or 866-739-6737

Subscriptions—with full season packages available for as little as $120—go on sale to the general public in February.


Download PDF