March 13, 2015

Press Release: Portland Opera Announces 2016 Season

Portland Opera today announced the complete repertory for its 2016 Season. The season spans the months of May, June, and July, offering new productions of operas by Tchaikovsky and Rossini, as well as works by Mozart and Sondheim in internationally acclaimed designs. The 2016 Season will also include an expanded Street Fair program, along with performances and programs developed in collaboration with other Portland-area arts and cultural organizations.

“The 2016 Season begins on May 6 at Keller Auditorium with Mozart’s The Magic Flute, a profound comedy that celebrates the powers of music, faith, and love,” says General Director Christopher Mattaliano. “I’m especially excited that our production features the acclaimed scenery and costumes designed by Maurice Sendak. The original scenery was destroyed several years ago in a hurricane and we are rebuilding it, thanks to a special grant from the Maurice Sendak Foundation. This “world re-premiere” will be a particularly festive way to launch our first festival season.

The Magic Flute will be followed in June by a classic American work, Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, also at Keller Auditorium. Sweeney Todd is truly operatic in scope, achieving enormous theatrical impact through its extraordinarily sophisticated music and larger-than-life characters. The full beauty of its score will be revealed for Portland Opera patrons by our exceptional cast, chorus, and orchestra.

“July brings our two Newmark productions. Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin is really the La Bohème of Russia—“seven lyrical scenes” that trace the friendships, romances, and heartbreak between four young adults. The Italian Girl in Algiers is the perfect counterpoint to Eugene Onegin. It’s Rossini’s wildest and craziest comedy, and it’s also the first Portland Opera staging of this true masterpiece.

Eugene Onegin and The Italian Girl in Algiers will both feature new scenery and costumes, created especially for Portland audiences. Creating more fresh new productions is just one of the many benefits provided by our new season format.

“I’m particularly excited that these two operas will also feature our very first rotating-repertory performances, giving patrons the unique opportunity to experience two great masterpieces on two consecutive days. Festival goers across the world—whether at the Glyndebourne Festival, the Santa Fe Opera, or the Oregon Shakespeare Festival—can attest to the intense delight of such scheduling. Our repertory dates in 2016 are July 22 & 23; July 23 & 24; and July 26 & 27.

“We’re reviving our wildly popular Street Fair at the end of our 2015 season on Saturday, August 1 with The Elixir of Love. Events will include a simulcast of the performance, along with appearances by local celebrities, performances by other community groups, partnerships with food vendors, and family friendly activities. Also, we are planning a Street Fair celebration for our 2016 Season on Wednesday, July 27 with a simulcasts of The Italian Girl in Algiers.

“In addition, we’re already in conversation with several Portland performing arts and cultural organizations about creating complementary programming which will make our 2016 season truly festive. We’ll announce more specific information this fall, but I can say that our offerings will include special performances, an expanded film series, lectures and demonstrations, panel discussions and more.”

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

“World Re-Premiere” of the Acclaimed Maurice Sendak Production

This universally bewitching tale of love, adventure, and the conflict between good and evil is buoyed by comedy, a fairy-tale worthy production, and above all, glorious music. “Mozart’s score for The Magic Flute is pure genius,” says Portland Opera Music Director George Manahan who conducts the production. “Dvorák put it quite brilliantly when he said, ‘Mozart is light.’”

Not all is as it seems in The Magic Flute. The Queen of the Night launches Prince Tamino and Papageno, his bird-catcher sidekick, on a quest to rescue her daughter Pamina from the brotherhood ruled by Sarastro. Armed with a magic flute and bells, Tamino and Papageno find Pamina, but are soon confronted with conflicts and confusion. Whom should they trust? The Queen of the Night, who flaunts her powers in dazzling displays of vocal pyrotechnics, or Sarastro, the seemingly enlightened leader whose arias were famously described by George Bernard Shaw as “the only music yet written that would not sound out of place in the mouth of God.”

Maureen McKay (Anne Trulove, The Rake’s Progress, 2015) will return to Portland Opera for Pamina. She will be joined by four principals making their company debuts:  Soprano Aline Kutan (winner of the 1995 Metropolitan Opera Auditions) as the Queen of the Night, tenor Cody Austin as Tamino, baritone John Moore (whose credits include Papageno for the Metropolitan Opera) as Papageno, and bass Tom McNichols as Sarastro (who has already portrayed God, in The Mark of Cain, for the Chelsea Opera).

The Magic Flute scenery designed by renowned children’s book author and illustrator Maurice Sendak was irreparably damaged in 2005 by Hurricane Wilma. Thanks to a generous grant from the Maurice Sendak Foundation, Portland Opera is rebuilding them in all their charming and magical glory for a long overdue “world re-premiere.”

May 6, 8m, 12 & 14
Keller Auditorium
Performed in the celebrated English translation by Andrew Porter

Stephen Sondheim

Sweeney Todd is the story of a barber who was unjustly imprisoned by a lecherous old judge, who then ravished Todd’s wife. Years later, Sweeney returns to London to find his family and exact his revenge. He teams up with Mrs. Lovett, a meat-pie baker, in a diabolical partnership that nearly succeeds in giving him vengeance and making her rich.

Sweeney Todd was born on Broadway, where it won the 1979 Tony Award for Best in Musical. In the years since, it has migrated to the world’s leading opera companies, including the Royal Opera House in London, the Houston Grand Opera, the New York City Opera, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago, thanks to its thrilling music and operatic scope.

Portland Opera’s production features baritone David Pittsinger (Jokanaan, Salome, 2013; Count Almaviva, The Marriage of Figaro, 2011) in the iconic title role. Pittsinger is a regular performer at the Metropolitan Opera, the Washington National Opera, and Carnegie Hall, among many others. A versatile performer, his Broadway credits include a Helen Hayes Award-nominated performance as Emile de Becque in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific, which has been seen at the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center Theater, and on tour throughout the US.

Also returning to Portland Opera for Sweeney Todd are Susannah Mars (Parthy Ann Hawks, Show Boat, 2015) as the Beggar Woman; Mark A. Thomsen (Roméo, Roméo et Juliette, 1997; Governor, Candide, 2012) as Pirelli; Alexander Elliott (Frank, Die Fledermaus, 2014; Belcore, The Elixir of Love, 2015) as Anthony; and Kevin Burdette (Police Sergeant, The Pirates of Penzance, 2014) as Judge Turpin.

Sweeney Todd will be conducted by Music Director George Manahan and presented in the brilliant concept for the original Broadway production, directed by Harold Prince and designed by Eugene and Franne Lee, as re-staged by Prince and the Lees for New York City Opera.

June 3, 5m, 7, 9 & 11
Keller Auditorium

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

When Tchaikovsky wrote Eugene Onegin, he threw out the grandiose conventions often associated with Russian opera. In fact, he called Eugene Onegin not an opera, but seven lyrical scenes–and in a surprise maneuver he gave the rights for its premiere to the Moscow Conservatory, which performed it in the city’s 950-seat Maly Theatre.

“At its heart, Eugene Onegin is an intimate opera about the lives and loves of four young friends, much like La Bohème,” says General Director Christopher Mattaliano. “In Kevin Newbury, whose 2012 Galileo Galilei for us at the Newmark was so striking, we have a director who can illuminate Eugene Onegin’s emotional richness. His 2010 staging of it for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis was praised by the Wall Street Journal for being a ‘simple, elegant production,’ which went on to say ‘Newbury’s subtle touches brought insights to the action.’

“I’m also very pleased that our cast will feature wonderful young singers who can believably portray the drama, jealousy, and passion of 20-somethings in love,” continued Mattaliano, “led by Alexander Elliott in the title role and Jennifer Forni (Micaëla, Carmen; 2015) as Tatyana. This will be a new production, created specifically for the Newmark Theatre.”

July 8, 10m, 14, 15, 17m, 23 & 26
Newmark Theatre

Gioachino Rossini

“A woman, if she wishes, can fool the entire world,” sings the cast in praise of The Italian Girl in Algiers. One of Rossini’s most madcap comedies, Portland Opera’s season finale features music of enormous vitality, audible humor, and great charm.

The audacious Isabella crosses the Mediterranean to find her lost lover, Lindoro, who has been captured by the Algerian chieftain Mustafà. Isabella is likewise captured and Mustafà is immediately captivated by the Italian girl, deciding to discard his current wife in favor of the alluring and exotic foreigner. Isabella coolly engineers an escape plan worthy of the Marx Brothers for herself and Lindoro, bamboozling Mustafà and his entire army.

Christian Räth–whose credits include productions at the Royal Opera House, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Washington National Opera, and the San Francisco Opera–will make his Portland Opera debut, directing a new production created especially for Portland Opera’s 2016 season.

July 22, 24m, 27, 29, 31m; August 4, 6
Newmark Theatre


Current Portland Opera subscribers will receive renewal packets for the 2016 Festival Season in late April 2015. Renewing subscribers are guaranteed subscriber discounts of up to 25%, the opportunity to retain or improve their Keller Auditorium seats, and have priority seating in the Newmark Theatre. Renewing subscribers also receive a variety of payment plan options, discounts at many area hotels and restaurants, and invitations to subscriber-only special events, along with a host of other benefits.

New subscription orders for the 2016 Festival Season may be placed with the Portland Opera box office beginning on Monday, May 11.


The Magic Flute
May 6, 8 (matinee), 12 & 14
Keller Auditorium

Sweeney Todd
June 3, 5 (matinee), 7, 9 & 11
Keller Auditorium

Eugene Onegin
July 8, 10 (matinee), 14, 15, 17 (matinee), 23 & 26
Newmark Theatre

The Italian Girl in Algiers
July 22, 24 (matinee), 27, 29 & 31 (matinee); August 4 & 6
Newmark Theatre