There are so many stories. Mermaids and magicians, heroines and heels, anarchy and activism. Love, jealousy, pride, sorrow. Ah, well…it’s opera. From the late 16th century to today opera has brought us time and again to the theater with its luxuriant blend of soaring melodies, grisly melodrama, extravagant costumes, impressive set pieces, and sometimes even a dance or two. Whether it’s in the largest outdoor theater in the US (The Muny in St. Louis, which seats over 11,000) or the intimate Chomenko Hinckley Studio Theater at the Hampton Opera Center in Portland, opera continues to impress.
Portland Opera, founded in 1964 and now guided by Artistic Director Priti Gandhi, is finishing its 2022-23 season with the company debut of Rusalka, Dvořák’s most famous opera. Inspired by Slavic folklore, it has mermaids and magicians, a full dance ensemble, and the luscious “Song to the Moon.”
For more magic (and a Queen of the Night), Kelley Nassief presents her first major production as Artistic Director of PSU Opera, The Magic Flute—Mozart’s last opera, which premiered three months before his death in 1791. And don’t miss Eugene Opera’s upcoming production of Handel’s Acis and Galatea May 19 and 20. Portland’s Renegade Opera, meanwhile, gets a bit “natural” with “Bird Songs of Opera,” performed in Oregon’s bird-filled Leach Botanical Garden on May 13 and 14 (with indoor, accessible performances in the evenings).
Looking for bolder and newer? You can’t get newer than Nu Nah-Hup: Sacajawea’s Story, a “work in development” presented by Opera Theater Oregon on May 20. But Nico Muhly’s 2010 opera Dark Sisters, presented this summer by Orpheus PDX, also fits the newness bill pretty well.
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