cherry blossom musical arts

Portland Opera presents Philip Glass's Galileo Galilei. Image: Courtney Weaver

Portland Opera’s latest collaboration with today’s best known composer, Philip Glass, Galileo Galilei, opens Friday night at the relatively intimate Newmark Theater in the Portland Center for the Performing Arts, with further performances Sunday (matinee), Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, April 1, 3, 5, and 7. It feels so strange and good to say that, like collaborations with living composers were a routine thing with big Portland music institutions. You can read my preview of this new production, directed by Kevin Newbury, of Glass’s 2002 chamber opera — written in roughly reverse chronological order, which is how the show proceeds, and including interviews with librettist Mary Zimmerman and Portland Opera artistic director Christopher Mattaliano.

Between PO’s Galileo and Eugene Opera’s production of John Adams’s important 1983 opera Nixon in China a couple weeks back, plus the continuing frenzy of new sounds that populate March Music Moderne, Oregon almost feels like the welcoming capital of contemporary music many of us fancy it to be. “I think that the future of opera depends on fostering new work,” Newbury said on PO’s website. “Opera should be as current and relevant as film, television and theatre. What are the stories that we need to tell today? How can we use music to look at life in the 21st century? For me, Galileo is a very contemporary story… all you have to do is turn on the news to see the battle between science and religion raging on.”

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