Portland Opera Announces 2022/23 Season

Portland Opera Announces 2022/23 Season

Portland, OR. Portland Opera’s 2022/23 season will feature the cultural touchstone Carmen. Maya Lahyani (seen above) will make her Portland Opera debut in the title role of Carmen. Also on the schedule, Thumbprint, a new opera inspired by the story of Mukhtar Mai, a trailblazing Pakistani human rights activist; the company’s first production of the iconic and magical Dvořák opera Rusalka; and an exciting one-night-only concert featuring celebrated opera composer and jazz great Terence Blanchard. The season will also include the world premiere of a youth opera inspired by the life and experiences of Beatrice Cannady Morrow for the regional Portland Opera to Go tour, and additional community and educational programming throughout the year.

“It brings us great joy to present the 22/23 season to the city of Portland!” shares Priti Gandhi, Artistic Director. “This year signifies so much for us as a community. As we begin to reconnect with our neighbors, with ourselves – we invite you to come back and reconnect with the power of live opera once again. This is a season that will fill your soul with the thrill of powerful new voices, compelling stories, and brilliant music-making. As we bring beloved classics – as well as debut operas – to our stages, we continue our journey in embracing the many ways this beautiful art form expresses itself.”

Kelly Kaduce, Rusalka, with the water nymphs (Act 3)rin the Minnesota Opera Production of RUSALK

LA Opera’s presentation of Thumbprint, a contemporary opera-theatre work by Kamala Sankaram explores the deep family ties and tribal traditions that empowered Mukhtar Mai to become the first female gang-rape victim in Pakistan to bring her attackers to justice. In lieu of a financial settlement, she requested that a school be constructed for educating girls to help prevent the humiliation of signing their name with only a thumbprint. (Photo Credit: Lawrence K. Ho)

Portrait of musician Terence Blanchard at his home in New Orleans, LA.

The season begins with one of opera’s most loved works—Georges Bizet’s masterpiece Carmen. This grand production, the directorial vision of legendary mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, will take place at Keller Auditorium November 5, 11, 13m, 2022. Featuring recognizable and melodic gems like the Habanera and the Toreador Song, Bizet’s opera is a true classic. “Portland Opera is excited to present Carmen, an opera that for many people was their first opera, or is their favorite opera,” says Damien Geter, Portland Opera’s Interim Music Director and Artistic Advisor. “The opera abounds with familiar tunes that have crossed into the realm of pop culture. We are so fortunate to be able to bring this timeless classic to Portland under the vision of the one of the world’s most beloved Carmens: Denyce Graves.”

The 2022/23 season continues with Thumbprint, a piece by composer Kamala Sankaram and librettist Susan Yankowitz inspired by the story of Mukhtar Mai—a trailblazing Pakistani human rights activist who is a victim of sanctioned gang rape. “We want to tell human stories that can empower, and lift up women,” shares Sue Dixon, General Director. “Thumbprint does this beautifully when Mukhtar Mai chooses to advocate for her life over the tradition of suicide when dishonor comes to her Pakistani family. Her continued fight for justice for all women, serves as a beacon of hope for those who find themselves in impossible situations.” Portland Opera will present 4 performances of Thumbprint, March 18, 22, 24, 26m, 2023 at the Newmark Theatre.

In April 2023, Portland Opera will present Antonín Dvořák’s Rusalka for the first time in the company’s history. This piece, based on a centuries-old folktale with roots in Slavic mythology, tells the story of a water nymph who falls in love with a prince. “The world of magical creatures and mermaids exists just beyond our realm, waiting in long-ago memories,” shares Priti Gandhi, Artistic Director. “Dvořák’s lush and richly textured soundscape takes this world and transforms it into a musical experience that gently settles into your soul. When the water sprite Rusalka sings her famous “Song to the Moon”, yearning for her human lover, one feels the touch of magic and childhood again.” Portland Opera will present 3 performances of Rusalka April 22, 28, 30m, 2023 at Keller Auditorium.

On May 26, 2023, Portland Opera will welcome jazz great and celebrated opera composer Terence Blanchard to the company for the first time with a special one-night-only concert “Absence: Terence Blanchard featuring the E-Collective and Turtle Island Quartet.” This special event, conducted by Portland Opera’s Interim Music Director and Co-Artistic Advisor Damien Geter, will feature guest soloists soprano Karen Slack, Portland Opera’s co-artistic advisor, and Will Liverman, who was last seen with the company in La Bohème in 2017, as well as the talented musicians of the Portland Opera Orchestra. “What an honor to share the stage with my dear friend the extraordinary Grammy award-winning trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard,” says Karen Slack. “A prolific artist and an American treasure! I am filled with both gratitude and excitement that Portland Opera is presenting him alongside the thrilling E-Collective band, Turtle Island Quartet and the magnificent baritone Will Liverman. This promises to be a night the city of Portland won’t forget!”

During the 2022/23 season, the company will also continue its commitment to education and community engagement, including Portland Opera to Go, a program that travels to schools and communities throughout the region with 50-minute operas. This fall, Portland Opera will share the world premiere of a new opera inspired by the life and history of Beatrice Morrow Cannady—a renowned civil rights advocate and the co-founder of the Portland, Oregon chapter of the NAACP. Created with composer Dave Ragland and librettist Marry McCallum, this new commission is designed for school and family audiences, with curriculum targeted for students in fourth through 9th grades. This production is set to tour schools and communities throughout the state and region. “We know that the community is still struggling with impacts from school closures during the pandemic,” explains Alexis Hamilton, Manager of Education and Community Engagement. “We are hoping to use our operatic superpowers to help our educational partners re-engage with arts learning and live events as we share Beatrice’s story while helping students to understand the future by engaging and empathizing with our past.”“The ability to realize our mission, vision, and values continues to grow in these moments when we share this beautiful art form together,” adds Sue Dixon, General Director, “and that happens not just on stage or in the recital hall, but in classrooms, in community gatherings, in our business practices, at every level.” Throughout the season, Portland Opera will produce a host of community engagement activities and professional development initiatives. Opera a la Cart, Portland Opera’s mobile performance venue that brings live opera performance directly into the community spaces where people gather will be found around town again in 2022, along with pop-up performances that have become part of Portland Opera’s community activities during pandemic closures. The company will welcome a new class of Portland Opera Resident Artists back to the revamped program for an 11-week intensive and will announce a new roster of artists in the coming weeks. In addition to the program for emerging artists, the company recently piloted a new program for BIPOC artists/administrators, named Portland Opera’s Ensemble Leaders Fellowship program. The 2022 Fellowship announcement is forthcoming, along with opportunities for local internships, community partners, and free public performances. To learn more about cultural equity, inclusion, diversity, or strategic planning progress, please visit portlandopera.org.

Here are more details about the season: 

Portland Opera 2022/23 Season Casting

Carmen – Georges BizetNovember 5, 11, 13m, 2022

 

Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay

Sung in French with English captions 

The performance is approximately 3 hours, performed with one intermission. 

In addition to the ticketed performances at Keller Auditorium, digital access will be available for a limited time on Portland Opera Onscreen.  

 

 

Composer

Georges Bizet

Librettists

Henri Meilhac & Ludovic Halévy

Carmen

Maya Lahyani

Don José

Matthew Pearce

Escamillo

Richard Ollarsaba

Micaëla

Ariana Wehr

Zuniga

Darren Drone

El Dancairo

Zachary Lenox

 

Conductor

Michael Ellis Ingram

Original Production & Staging

Denyce Graves

Associate Director and Choreographer 

Eric Sean Fogel

Scenery & Properties Designer 

Riccardo Hernandez

Costume Designer 

Oana Botez

Lighting Designers 

Robert Wierzel & Amith Chandrashaker

Set in early 1820s in Seville, Spain. Carmen is a factory worker, free spirit, and the toast of the town. She is brave, beautiful, and independent. She falls in and out of love like “a rebellious bird that no one can tame.” Then one day, in the busy streets outside of the bullfighting ring, her ex violently and tragically rejects her choice to move on.

Known for her legendary portrayal of the title role of Carmen, Denyce Graves makes her directorial debut with this production, which will first be staged by Minnesota Opera in May. Eric Sean Fogel makes his Portland Opera debut as Associate Director and Choreographer, along with conductor Michael Ellis Ingram, who leads the Portland Opera Orchestra and Chorus.

Mezzo-soprano Maya Lahyani, a regular on the Metropolitan Opera stage, makes her Portland Opera debut in the title role of Carmen, a role she has previously sung with San Francisco Opera, Arizona Opera, and Opera Maine. Matthew Pearce, currently a Cafritz Young Artist at Washington National Opera, makes his Portland Opera debut as Don José. The cast also features Richard Ollarsaba as Escamillo, Ariana Wehr as Micaëla, and Darren Drone as Zuniga, all in their company debuts, as well Zachary Lenox, last seen on the Portland Opera stage in the 2021 production of Tosca, as Sciarrone.

Thumbprint – Kamala SankaramMarch 18, 22, 24, 26m, 2023

Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway

Sung in English with English captions 

The performance is approximately ninety minutes, performed without an intermission.  

In addition to the ticketed performances at the Newmark Theatre, digital access will be available for a limited time on Portland Opera Onscreen 

 

Composed by

Kamala Sankaram

Libretto by

Susan Yankowitz

 

Mukhtar 

Maya Kherani

Mother/Minister/Reporter 

Indira Mahajan

Father/Judge/Reporter/Mastoi 

TBA

Faiz/Police/Reporter/Villager 

Alok Kumar

Shakur/Abdul/Imam/Reporter/Mastoi/Villager 

Omar Najmi

Annu/Young Girl/Reporter 

Samina Aslam

 

Conductor

Maria Badstue

Director

Omer Ben Seadia

Thumbprint is inspired by the story of Mukhtar Mai—a trailblazing Pakistani human rights activist who is a victim of sanctioned gang rape. She defied expectations to take her own life after the attack, deciding to live and seek justice. Her hope: open a village school for girls to learn to read and write, so that they may avoid the humiliation of signing their names with only a thumbprint.

          

This libretto originates from a series of interviews with Mai, paired with a score that is a dynamic collision of Hindustani and European opera influences. This piece features flute, violin, viola, upright bass, piano, and percussion.

Conductor Maria Badstue, recipient of a prestigious 2019-2021 Taki Alsop Conducting Fellowship, makes her Portland Opera debut conducting Thumbprint. Omer Ben Seadia, whose recent credits include productions at Houston Grand Opera, Canadian Opera Company, and Calgary Opera, makes her debut as stage director.

Soprano Maya Kherani, whose credits include roles with Glyndebourne, Opera San José, and a recent performance locally with the Portland Baroque Orchestra, makes her company debut in the role of Mukhtar Mai. Soprano Indira Mahajan, winner of the Kennedy Center’s Marian Anderson Vocal Award, makes her Portland Opera debut as Mukhtar’s Mother, the Minister, and Reporter. Tenor Alok Kumar, whose recent credits include roles at the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, and Los Angeles Opera, makes his debut as Faiz, Police Office, Reporter, and Villager. Also making their Portland Opera debuts, tenor Omar Najmi sings the roles of Shakur, Abdul, Imam, Reporter, Mastoi, and Villager, and soprano Samina Aslam sings the roles of Annu, Young Girl, and Reporter.

Originally commissioned by Beth Morrison Projects and the Here Center for the Prototype Festival, Thumbprint premiered in 2014 at the Baruch Performing Arts Center.

 

Mukhtar Mai is still striving for change, justice, and safety. Learn more about The Mukhtar Mai Women’s Organization and her activism at portlandopera.org 

 

 

Rusalka – Antonín DvořákApril 22, 28, 30M, 2023

Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay Street, Portland

Sung in Czech with English captions. 

The performance is approximately 3 hours, performed with two intermissions.  

 

In addition to the ticketed performances at Keller Auditorium, digital access will be available for a limited time on Portland Opera Onscreen  

Composed by

Antonín Dvořák

Libretto by

Jaroslav Kvapil based on the fairy tales of Karel Jaromír Erben and Božena  Němcová

 

Rusalka

Karen Vuong

The Prince

Limmie Pulliam

Vodnik “The Spirit of the Lake”

Andrew Potter

Ježibaba

Jill Grove

The Foreign Princess

Othalie Graham

 

Conductor

Elias Grandy

Director

Eric Simonson

Scenery and Properties Designer 

Erhard Rom

Costume Designer 

Kärin Kopischke

Projection Designer 

Wendall K. Harrington

Lighting design 

Robert Wierzel

 

In this centuries-old folktale with roots in Slavic mythology, a water nymph falls in love with a prince. With the help of the moon and a witch, she defies her father’s advice— giving up her home and voice to win the prince’s love on dry land. When it does not go to plan, the regretful prince seeks redemption, and heartbreak reigns in the land of true love.

Elias Grandy, General Music Director of the Opera and Philharmonic Orchestra Heidelberg makes his Portland Opera debut conducting Rusalka. Eric Simonson, writer and director for film, television, theatre, and opera, makes his company debut as stage director. Scenery and Properties are designed by Erhard Rom, costumes are designed by Kärin Kopischke, projections are designed by Wendall K. Harrington, and lighting is designed by Robert Wierzel.

Soprano Karen Vuong, whose recent credits include roles with Seattle Opera, Washington National Opera, and Tiroler Festspiele, makes her Portland Opera debut in the title role of Rusalka. Tenor Limmie Pulliam, whose recent credits include roles with the Los Angeles Opera, and Vashon Opera, makes his debut as the Prince. Mezzo-soprano Jill Grove makes her company debut as Ježibaba, a role she has sung with Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, as well as New Orleans Opera. Also making their Portland Opera debuts are bass Andrew Potter as Vodnik “The Spirit of the Lake,” and soprano Othalie Graham as the Foreign Princess.

Scenery, properties, projections, and costumes for this production were constructed by Minnesota Opera Shops and are owned by Minnesota Opera and Boston Lyric Opera.  

 

 

Absence: Terence Blanchard featuring the E-Collective and Turtle Island Quartet 

A One-night-only ConcertMay 26, 2023, 8:00PM

Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay Street, Portland

Sung in English with English captions. 

The performance is approximately 1 hour, 50 minutes. 

 

  

Conductor

Damien Geter

Soloist

Karen Slack

Soloist

Will Liverman

 

E-Collective 

Trumpet/Synths

Terence Blanchard

Guitar

Charles Altura

Piano/Keyboard/Synths

Taylor Eigsti

Electric Bass

David Ginyard, Jr.

Drums

Oscar Seaton

 

Turtle Island Quartet  

Violin

David Balakrishnan

Violin

Gabriel Terracciano

Viola

Benjamin von Gutzeit

Cello

Naseem Alatrash

 

In May 2023, Portland Opera will welcome two-time Oscar nominee, six-time Grammy-winner, and acclaimed opera composer (Fire Shut Up In My Bones and Champion) Terence Blanchard to the Keller Auditorium for an exciting one-night-only gala celebration.

This special event, conducted by interim music director and co-artistic advisor Damien Geter, will feature the E-Collective, Turtle Island Quartet, guest soloists soprano Karen Slack, Portland Opera’s co-artistic advisor, and Will Liverman, as well as the talented musicians of the Portland Opera Orchestra.

This performance is an optional addition to a season subscription. Single tickets are available from $35. A limited number of post-show celebration reception tickets are available for $250, in part as a tax-deductible contribution in support of Portland Opera’s bright future.

Subscriptions for Portland Opera’s 22/23 season are available now; and single tickets will be on sale on May 24. For more information, and to purchase subscriptions, visit portlandopera.org, or call Patron Services at 503-241-1802.

Portland Opera appreciates the ongoing support of our generous donors, The Collins Foundation, James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Oregon Arts Commission, Oregon Community Foundation, Regional Arts and Culture Council, including support from the City of Portland, Multnomah County, and the Arts Education & Access Fund, special support from The CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund, and The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program. 

Dates, programming, artists, and details for Portland Opera’s 22/23 season are subject to change. Portland Opera is committed to the health and safety of our audiences, artists, and company members. The company is working with health authorities and medical advisors to continue to adhere with local, state, and federal guidelines. To create a safe and enjoyable experience for all, Portland Opera may implement staff and patron precautions, which may include face coverings, symptom screenings, temperature checks or other recommended safety measures.