As the Portland Opera prepares for its upcoming 47th season, those who frequent their performances have come to expect a certain amount of boldness and creativity when it comes to their concert programming.
This season will certainly give no reason for those expectations to discontinue.
The Portland Opera has a strong tradition of having the willingness and ability to put interesting contemporary works into their calendar alongside some of the more well known elements of operatic literature.
Back in 1982, they premiered the opera “Wuthering Heights”, which was followed several years later with the Opera’s first commissioned work, “Lucy’s Lapses”, in 1990.
Reynaldo Hahn’s “The Merchant of Venice” was given its North American premiere by the PO in 1996. The West Coast premiere of William Bolcolm’s “A View from the Bridge” took place during the 2003 season, which was soon followed up in 2006 with a co-production of John Adams’s “Nixon in China” (always welcome, by the way!).
And in the last few years, in a fantastic continuation of this contemporary theme, there’s been somewhat of a warm relationship developing with the enormously successful American composer Philip Glass.
In 2009, Glass himself came to Portland in anticipation of the West Coast premiere of his work, “Orphee”. It was, of course, a rousing success. Perhaps so much that it has prompted the return of Mr. Glass’s music, as the Portland Opera is set to feature his 2002 operatic work, “Galileo Galilei”.
“Galileo” is a work based on excerpts of the famous scientist’s life. This opera premiered back in 2002 in Chicago at the Goodman Theater.
Glass is arguably one of today’s better known composers, having done collaborations with Allen Ginsberg, Yo Yo Ma, Woody Allen and David Bowie. He has also scored music for such films as “The Truman Show” and “The Hours”.
But there are still other modern (-ish) works in store for Portland Opera devotees. The Opera will also be doing Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide” and Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly”.
Here’s a complete list of the 2011-2012 opera season, including the opening Gala Night concert:
Much like politics, if you don’t vote, then you have little right to complain. So as our very own Portland Opera readies themselves to continue its tradition of bringing not only the classics to the stage, but the musical voices of today, it is imperative to get behind a company that is making great strides and taking wonderfully artistic chances in the operatic world.
Their very unique vision needs our strong support to continue. Not only do they deserve support in bringing the city its much needed, annual dose of theatrical works, but they should also certainly be rewarded for being one of the few companies take on modern literature. And the reward for all of us just might be positively incalculable.