Portland Opera announces an executive leadership transition, with General Director Christopher Mattaliano, who has led the company for 16 years, transitioning to the role of Artistic Consultant beginning with the 2019-20 season. Sue Dixon, current Director of External Affairs will serve as Interim General Director as of July 15. Dixon joined the company in May 2014 as Director of Development and was named Director of External of Affairs in 2017.
“I was incredibly fortunate to become Portland Opera’s General Director in 2003, and the past 16 years have been among the most satisfying and meaningful years of my life,” says Mattaliano. “I have formed deep, lifelong friendships within the Portland community, and have been very blessed to work with a great staff and extraordinary artists. Completing the framework for a new strategic plan that will build Portland Opera’s future created the right time for me to step aside.”
Mattaliano’s relationship with Portland Opera began in 1990 as a guest artist, directing Massenet’s Manon. After numerous other celebrated collaborations as a guest artist, he was named General Director in July of 2003. Among many highlights during Mattaliano’s tenure, the company saw the creation of the Portland Opera Resident Artist Program in 2005, which has grown into one of the nation’s most competitive young artist programs in the country; an expansion of the company’s repertoire, including over 30 Portland Opera premieres; and an expansion of performance venues beyond the Keller Auditorium to include the Newmark Theatre and the newly created Gregory K. and Mary Chomenko Hinckley Studio Theatre. In addition, under Mattaliano’s leadership the company produced its first two commercial recordings, Galileo Galilei and Orphée by Philip Glass; collaborated with composer John Adams in co-producing Nixon in China in 2005, and produced the work of American composers such as Philip Glass, David Lang, and Laura Kaminsky. Mattaliano’s artistic leadership also included presenting works by major visual artists such as David Hockney, Maurice Sendak, and John Frame; and collaborating with a wide range of Portland organizations, including BodyVox, Portland Art Museum, Chamber Music Northwest, Third Angle, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Oregon Symphony, PHAME, and Portland State University. Mattaliano’s vision for the company included a focus on connection to community, through programs including free performance simulcasts, post-show conversations, the creation of the Opera a la Cart program, a free Portland Opera Resident Artist recital series at the Portland Art Museum, and a bilingual Spanish and English production of The Barber of Seville, for Portland Opera to Go’s educational programming.
“The Board of Directors is exceedingly grateful to Christopher Mattaliano for his 16 years of leadership and vision at Portland Opera,” says President of the Board of Directors, Curtis T. Thompson, MD. “Chris has led our company through a period of artistic excellence during his tenure, and created wonderful community programs and unforgettable productions. We are looking forward to building upon his work with this next chapter for Portland Opera, and with Sue Dixon’s leadership, vision, and commitment to community.”
Dixon, who currently oversees all aspects of fundraising, marketing, sales, communications, and special events, will serve as Interim General Director effective immediately. “In my first five years with Portland Opera, I had a chance to work closely with Chris, our senior team, and the Board of Directors to better serve our wonderful opera patrons, and to connect them with the artistic mission of our company,” says Dixon. “I know first-hand that we have realized many great accomplishments, and also that we have great work ahead of us. As we look toward creating the future, we celebrate Chris’s legacy at Portland Opera. I am honored to be able to build upon a strong artistic and community-based foundation for the company.”
About Portland Opera
Portland Opera exists to inspire, challenge, and uplift our audiences by creating productions of high artistic quality that celebrate the beauty and breadth of opera.
Since 1964, Portland Opera has contributed to the cultural, artistic, and economic landscape of the city and region that we love. We celebrate the beauty and breadth of the opera repertoire with performances that take place in the Keller Auditorium, Newmark Theatre, and the Gregory K. and Mary Chomenko Hinckley Studio Theatre at the Hampton Opera Center. The company is also a committed educational partner, touring fully staged operas to schools and community centers throughout Oregon and SW Washington region each year, in addition to a host of other efforts designed to make opera accessible for all.
Christopher Mattaliano Biography
Christopher Mattaliano was named Portland Opera’s fifth General Director in July 2003. In this capacity, he was responsible for all artistic, financial, and administrative aspects of the company.
Previous to this appointment, Mr. Mattaliano was the Artistic Director of the Pine Mountain Music Festival, a summer festival in Iron Mountain, Michigan, that produces a season of professional opera, chamber music, and other genres of music, including folk and jazz.
He brought to the company an intense artistic vision honed from his extensive stage directing experience. Prior to taking the helm at Portland Opera, Mr. Mattaliano achieved considerable regional success, directing five acclaimed Portland Opera productions—Manon (1991), Eugene Onegin (1992), Pagliacci/Carmina Burana (1997), Candide (2002), and Il Trovatore (2002). In 2004, his direction of Rossini’s The Journey to Reims opened his first season as General Director to both popular and critical acclaim. Since then he has directed The Rape of Lucretia (2005), Macbeth (2006), The Magic Flute (2007), Cinderella (2007), Albert Herring (2008), Rigoletto (2009), The Barber of Seville (2010), Pagliacci/Carmina Burana (2010), L’Heure Espagnole/L’Enfant et les Sortilèges (2011), Candide (2012), Falstaff (2013), The Magic Flute (2016), Songs of Love and War (2017), Rigoletto (2018), La Cenerentola (2018), and The Barber of Seville (2019).
In addition to those productions, Mr. Mattaliano has directed productions for the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, San Francisco Opera, Washington Opera, the Canadian Opera Company, L’Opera de Montreal, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Minnesota Opera, Dallas Opera, and Central City Opera, among many others. His work has also been enjoyed internationally at L’Opera de Nice and the Norwegian National Opera.
He has directed world premieres of Hugo Weisgall’s Esther for the New York City Opera, jazz composer Fred Ho’s Journey Beyond the West for the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Peter Westergaard’s The Tempest for the Opera Festival of New Jersey, and the American premiere of Fleischman’s Rothschild’s Violin at the Juilliard Opera Center.
His passion for stage direction has extended well beyond the stages of those many companies. He has taught at the Juilliard School, the Metropolitan Opera Young Artist Development Program, Manhattan School of Music, Yale University, Princeton University, Mannes College of Music, and the New National Theater of Japan. In 1996 his essay on auditioning (“The Dreaded Audition”) was published by OPERA America.
Mr. Mattaliano received his BA in Theater Arts from Montclair State University with additional training at the Trent Park School of Performing Arts in London, England. In 1998 he received the L. Howard Fox Visiting Alumni Award from his alma mater as well as a National Opera Institute Stage Direction Grant.
Since joining the company, his presence is in considerable demand on the national level, leading the keynote panel at the 2004 OPERA America conference and being named to the National Endowment for the Arts’ opera review panel. Mr. Mattaliano served on OPERA America’s Board of Directors from 2005-2011. He continues to direct productions around the country, including recent productions of The Barber of Seville at Michigan Opera Theatre, Candide at Arizona Opera, and Macbeth at New Orleans Opera.
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Silja Tobin, Marketing & Communications Manager