February 6, 2020

Press Release: Portland Opera presents Vivaldi’s Bajazet

Portland Opera continues the 2019/20 season with a rare production of Vivaldi’s pasticcio Bajazet. This production is a collaboration with Portland Baroque Orchestra, one of the country’s largest period performance orchestras who specialize in the works of the Baroque and Classical eras. Portland Opera is thrilled to welcome numerous artists to the company for the first time, including countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen as the emperor Tamerlano, contralto Avery Amereau as his fiancée Irene, soprano Kathleen Kim as Idapse, tenor John Marzano as Andronico, and conductor Erin Helyard. Bass-baritone Daniel Mobbs returns to the company as Bajazet, as does Portland Opera Resident Artist mezzo-soprano Camille Sherman as Asteria. Chas Rader-Shieber directs this new production, retelling the story of the capture of Ottoman emperor Bayezid I, by Tamerlane. Portland Opera will present five performances of Bajazet on March 20, 22, 24, 26, and 28 at the Newmark Theatre in downtown Portland, Oregon.

“Even as the walls seem to be crumbling around them, the characters of Bajazet live in a musical world of unparalleled beauty. As one culture is dismissed and destroyed by another, with a kind of cruelty that is both frightening and yet familiar, the personal and emotional lives of those in power are given a careful kind of examination by Vivaldi,” says Stage Director Chas Rader-Shieber. “To witness the literal and figurative stripping away of the things that are held most dear, is a terrifying and moving experience.”

The opera tells the story of Bajazet, Emperor of the Turks, who has been captured. His daughter, Asteria, plans to kill her father’s captor, Tamerlano, who also wishes to marry her. Irene, a princess who loves Tamerlano, discovers the murder plot and intervenes. Andronico, an ally of Tamerlano, is in love with Asteria. Honor, forgiveness, and duty shine brightly in this muscular tale of conflict, love, and conquerors.

Bajazet is made possible by support from the National Endowment for the Arts, Elk Cove Vineyards, and the Oregonian/Oregon Live. Portland Opera is grateful for the ongoing support of the Meyer Memorial Trust, the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, Oregon Arts Commission, Regional Arts and Culture Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts.  Portland Opera is a member of OPERA America.

Artist Biographies:

Bass-baritone Daniel Mobbs returns to Portland Opera in the title role of Bajazet. Mobbs made his Portland Opera debut in 2004 as Lord Sidney in Rossini’s The Journey to Reims, and subsequent roles with the company have included the title role in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, Don Alfonso in Mozart’s Così fan tutte, and most recently, Baron Douphol in Verdi’s La Traviata. In previous seasons, Mobbs has performed with numerous American companies, including the Metropolitan Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Los Angeles Opera, and Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen will make his Portland Opera debut as Tamerlano in this production. Described by the New York Times as a “young star,” and “complete artist,” Cohen was named a Grand Finalist Winner in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2017. Cohen was a member of the San Francisco Opera’s prestigious Adler Fellowship program in 2018/19 and made his San Francisco Opera debut as Medoro in Handel’s Orlando. He is also a former member of Houston Grand Opera studio, where he returned this season in Handel’s Saul. In recent years, he has received numerous prestigious awards.

Contralto Avery Amereau makes her Portland Opera debut as Irene. She made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 2016 as the Madrigal Singer in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, and has since also sung the role of Kate Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly with the company. Recent credits also include roles with the Glyndebourne Festival, Seattle Opera, and the Salzburg Festival.

Mezzo-soprano Camille Sherman, now in her second year of Portland Opera’s Resident Artist program, will sing the role of Asteria. She made her Portland Opera debut last fall as Flora in Verdi’s La Traviata and has since sung the roles of Ramiro in Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera and Kate Pinkerton in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. In February, she will continue with two roles in An American Quartet: Four One-act Operas –the Announcer in Moore’s Gallantry and Sally in Barber’s A Hand of Bridge. Last year, Sherman was a semi-finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, after winning the Northwest Regional Competition.

Tenor John Marzano makes his Portland Opera debut as Andronico. His recent credits include Alfredo in La Traviata with Vashon Opera, Camille in The Merry Widow with Tacoma Opera, and numerous roles with Seattle Opera, including Le Remandado in Carmen and Giuseppe in La Traviata.

Soprano Kathleen Kim makes her company debut as Idaspe. Since making her Metropolitan Opera debut in 2007, she has sung numerous roles with the company including La Fée in Massenet’s Cendrillon, Sophie in Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier, Olympia in The Tales of Hoffmann, and Chiang Ch’ing in John Adams’s Nixon in China. Other recent credits include Gretel in Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel with the Korea National Opera, Violetta in La Traviata with Hanyang Opera Theatre in Seoul, Josephine Young in the world premiere of Huang Ruo and David Henry Hwang’s An American Soldier with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.

Conductor Erin Helyard makes his Portland Opera debut leading this production. Based in Sydney, Australia, Helyard is the artistic director and co-founder of Pinchgut Opera, a Baroque opera company dedicated to rediscovering operatic masterpieces from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Stage Director Chas Rader-Shieber made his Portland Opera debut in 2013 with Handel’s Rinaldo. He has since returned to the company with Strauss’s Die Fledermaus, Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, and Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera. Other recent credits include Rossini’s The Barber of Seville with the Curtis Institute of Music, The Return of Ulysses with Pinchgut Opera, and Shining Brow with Arizona Opera.

Bajazet Cast & Creative Team

Bajazet           Daniel Mobbs
Tamerlano Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen
Irene Avery Amereau
Asteria            Camille Sherman
Andronico John Marzano
Idaspe Kathleen Kim
Conductor Erin Helyard
Director Chas Rader-Shieber
Scenic & Costume Designer Michael Olich
Lighting Designer Connie Yun
Assistant Director Rebecca Herman

Bajazet Tickets and Information

Performances take place at 7:30PM at the Newmark Theatre with the exception of the matinee on March 22, which begins at 2:00PM. One hour prior to each performance, audience members are invited to a pre-show lecture.

Bajazet will be sung in Italian with projected English translations.

Student rush tickets are available for performances of Bajazet. Call 503-241-1802 Monday through Friday from 10AM–5PM, or visit portlandopera.org, for more information. Portland Opera is proud to also work with the Veteran Tickets Foundation (vettix.org) to share tickets with U.S. Armed Forces personnel, veterans, and their families.  In addition, a limited number of free tickets are available through My Discovery Pass, a program created by Multnomah County Library that offers access to local museums and cultural institutions for library card holders.

A limited number of $5 tickets for Oregon Trail Card holders are available two weeks prior to each performance, subject to availability. These tickets must be purchased via phone by calling 503-241-1802.

The performance on March 22 at 2pm will include an audio description of the visual and physical events on stage for patrons who are blind or have low vision. For patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing, each performance includes live captioning in English.

Tickets for Bajazet are now available, starting at $35. For more information, and to purchase tickets go here or call Patron Services at 503-241-1802.  For more information, patrons may also contact the Opera Concierge at concierge@portlandopera.org, Monday through Friday from 10PM–5PM.

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. The 2019/20 season marks the first led by Portland Opera’s sixth general director, Sue Dixon, and first artistic director, Daniel Biaggi (interim).

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Interviews, press comps, artist biographies, and more information available upon request.

Silja Tobin, Marketing & Communications Manager
Portland Opera