November 1, 2017

Press Release: State of the Arts—Portland Opera

As a proud member of OPERA America, Portland Opera is delighted to mark the occasion of November 1, 2017 as National Opera Advocacy Day, with a report highlighting community connections and impacts from the recently completed fifty-third season.

OPERA America is the premier arts service organization promoting the creation, presentation, and enjoyment of opera in the United States.

In the opening remarks of Governor Kate Brown’s presentation of the 2017 Governor’s Arts Awards, she asserted that “Art makes life better.” As one of the 2017 honorees that received this recognition for exemplary service to the arts, Portland Opera is dedicated to continuing the conversation about exactly how and why the art of opera makes life better in Oregon.

In the Community

“Opera and the arts contribute to the creation of healthy communities and strategic growth,” says Kay Abramowitz, President of the Board of Directors for Portland Opera and partner at Miller Nash Graham & Dunn LLP. “This is about achieving the best and brightest future for Oregonians and the region.”

  • In 2017, Portland Opera partnered with over 65 businesses, organizations, and community groups to demonstrate the meaningful ways that art and business can create a stronger local economy and better serve our region.
    • “A thriving arts community with a high quality opera company is vital to tourism in Portland,” says Leslie Caldwell of The Benson Hotel. “Opera and arts patrons stay at our hotels and eat at our restaurants, creating a positive cultural economic impact across industries.”
    • In 2017, Portland Opera’s restaurant partners celebrated the city’s foodie culture with an opera twist: including special opera-themed desserts from Nel Centro, whose menu includes unique cocktails themed for each opera production throughout the season.
    • Portland Opera worked with corporations like Umpqua Bank and The Standard to promote volunteerism and corporate matching for non-profit support.
    • The 2017 season featured collaborations with community businesses like Portland Piano Company to host special behind-the-scenes programs; and Anthropologie & Co. to host opera styling events. Viridian Reclaimed Wood collaborated with the opera’s production team to provide special materials for onstage scenic elements.
  • More than 50,000 people enjoyed the operatic menu offered by Opera a la Cart—Portland Opera’s mobile music venue—at more than 30 free performances for the public. These performances were held throughout the spring and summer at Sunday Parkways, First Thursdays, farmers’ markets, neighborhood festivals, street fairs, vineyards and more. Inspired by Portland’s food cart scene, Opera a la Cart was created in collaboration with PSU’s School of Architecture. In addition to drawing national media attention, Opera a la Cart won the Regional Arts & Culture Council’s Innovative Partnership Award in February.
  • Portland Opera continued its ongoing partnership with the Multnomah County and Beaverton public libraries, presenting free season and opera previews at multiple library branches.
  • Over a hundred community members enjoyed a free simulcast performance of Così fan Tutte outside of the Newmark Theatre during the season.
  • Portland Opera appreciates the ongoing support of our funders including The Collins Foundation, Meyer Memorial Trust, Oregon Arts Commission, Work for Art, the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, and The Regional Arts & Culture Council; as well as support from the City of Portland, Multnomah County, and the Arts Education & Access Fund.

Artistic Excellence & Economic Impact

“We strive for excellence in producing and interpreting artistic works, but we also strive to serve as an excellent advocate for the arts,” says Christopher Mattaliano, General Director of Portland Opera. “Our cultural sector provides local jobs, drives tourism, advances education goals, and more.”

  • According to the Cultural Advocacy Coalition, the arts and cultural sector in Oregon accounts for 15,000 jobs; generates $1.2 billion in economic impact, and funds over $57 million in essential government services through income tax revenues.
  • In the past year, Portland Opera employed nearly 600 local and national artists and arts professionals, including singers, orchestra musicians, stage directors, designers, stage managers, and stagehands; with an operating budget of nearly $8 million.
  • Based on unaudited numbers, contributed revenue at Portland Opera grew by 23% over the previous season, and ticket sales rose by 14% over the same period.
  • Portland Opera launched a new Vino e Voce series—an intimate storefront opera experience at the Hampton Opera Center, in the newly dedicated Gregory K. and Mary Chomenko Hinckley Studio Theatre. The inaugural production featured a series of madrigals by Monteverdi.
  • Spanning over 350 years of opera during the 2017 season, the company presented two one-act operas by the contemporary composer David Lang (The Difficulty of Crossing a Field and The Little Match Girl Passion), in collaboration with Imago Theatre. In conjunction with the productions, Lang participated in a number of public programs connecting with Chamber Music Northwest, All Classical Portland, Fear No Music, and Third Angle, and other educational and community entities.
  • Italian tenor Giordano Lucá made his U.S. debut as Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Bohème.
  • Welsh baritone Jason Howard made his Portland Opera debut as Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha, in an ensemble that also featured television and stage actor Reggie Lee (Grimm).
  • Portland Opera Resident Artists were featured in a new production of Mozart’s Così fan tutte and throughout the season in a free public recital series the Whitsell Auditorium.
  • Tony and Emmy winning Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth headlined the Baroque Ball gala in September 2017, enthralling a large crowd during an entertaining and emotional evening that raised just over $1 million.
  • In October, Portland was honored with a 2017 Governor’s Arts Award, presented by Governor Kate Brown at a ceremony in Portland. “We’re incredibly honored by this recognition,” Mattaliano “For over 50 years, we’ve been Portland and Oregon’s opera company, and we love our work bringing this beautiful and varied art form to our communities.”

Arts Education & Access

“Our team believes that every child deserves access to outstanding curricula, including the creative arts and expressive activities,” says Mattaliano. “We are committed to promoting STEAM initiatives that integrate the arts into the learning process for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

  • Portland Opera To Go’s K-12 educational tour logged over 5,000 miles throughout Oregon and southwest Washington, treating almost 12,000 students to a 50-minute English-language version of Hansel and Gretel. Of the 56 performances at schools and community centers, 57% were in rural communities and 60% of the schools were classified as Title I.
    • A teacher from Yamhill County provided the following feedback: “I wanted to thank you for making the visit of Portland Opera to Go a reality. Our students loved it. A little 3 year old ask to see it again right after it was over. An elementary aged girl had told her mom that she hated the opera, but after the in-class presentation and the performance she told her mom that night that she now loves opera! From the in-class workshop to the sets, costumes and overall performance, it was an eleven out of a ten! I was expecting to see some of our younger students get distracted, but it was so well done that their attention was riveted throughout the show. Quite a feat in my book! I’ll definitely repeat the experience, as we need more opera lovers.
  • Nearly 2,000 local middle and high school students experienced a live, full-scale opera production, many for the first time, attending the final dress rehearsals for each production.



Sue Dixon, Director of External Affairs, Portland Opera