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PDX OPERAbeat | A Company Blog is the blog for all things Portland Opera, featuring a variety of guest contributors who will provide insider's tidbits on all we do to celebrate the beauty and breadth of opera.

Big Night 2012

Did you hear? We threw a gala this weekend.

Side note: how do you pronounce gala? I say gal-a, like "that gal is rocking that dress." Some people say gall-a, like, "who would have the gall to say it any other way?" And some people say gay-la. All three ways are technically accurate, but we have definitely gone around the office discussing the best way to say it. The jury is out. (I'm right).

Anyway: Big Night 2012!

As last year, the lead up to our Big Night event was a whirlwind. There are a ton of logistical issues to deal with: food carts to bring in, a beer garden to permit and rope off, a giant screen to hang. T-shirts to order for the street fair staff, bands to hire, volunteers to organize.

Exceptionally attractive stars of locally-shot TV shows to hire as emcee. OMG.

Sasha Roiz, who plays Captain Renard on NBC's Grimm, with (from L): Tracy Wenckus, Lauren Bryan, Claudie Fisher, Julia Sheridan, and Casey McDermott, members of our Communications team

Also: sheet music to rent, sheet music to buy, sheet music to build, book, copy, distribute, cut, rearrange, sort, erase, remark, etc. Also, shiny new orchestra folders to build out of black cardstock and gaff tape.

folder-making station.

finished products.

There are stagehands to hire, pianos to move, press releases to send! Here is David Stabler's great write-up from Friday's Oregonian.

And, of course, there are dresses to buy.


There are literally a thousand or more things to do to prepare for this event. So when we wake up on gala day and the sun is shining, we are happy. Especially those of us who have been working all night getting things set up for the street fair. (The projectors that show our concert simulcast have to be focused in the dark, which means that the projectionist comes in to work at about 1 AM. CRAZY TOWN.)

I arrived at noon for our 2 PM dress rehearsal and the staff was hard at work.

The Marx brothers having a big-head rehearsal prior to the opening of the street fair

Larry Moiola, one of the big heads, with his handlers, volunteer Jay Spottswood and Lauren Bryan, Marketing Coordinator

We had our final dress rehearsal at 2 PM. I was inside, running supertext (shameless promotion there), while the crew continued to set up the fair outside. When rehearsal wrapped at 4, everything was just about set, inside and outside. So, I put on my party dress and went downstairs to join the fun.

Alexis Hamilton introduces the first performers of the evening, Vagabond Opera!

The fountain begins to fill up.

Vagabond Opera rocked it.

The Marx heads mingle as the crowd grows! I love all the fountain-based picnics.

We listened to the bands (Rose City Swing also joined us)! We learned to swing dance! Resident Artist André Chiang and I are pretty sure we're destined for Dancing With The Stars any day now. Then I had to go inside and tuck the orchestra in and take my place in the supertext booth. It was GALA TIME.

To see the full program listing of this year's gala, hop on over here.

Big Night Big News

This year's gala included some really big, really exciting news: George Manahan, long-time music director of New York City Opera and current Music Director of the American Composers Orchestra, has been named Portland Opera's new Music Director!

You guys. It is THE BEST. George and I have worked together a great deal in my seven seasons here, and there really could not be a more knowledgeable, more affable, more effective conductor. The musicians love him. We all love him! His conducting is beautifully clear -- seriously, a joy to watch. He's so so so good to work with. We are all so very excited that he'll be joining us on a permanent basis.


A big WELCOME to Maestro Manahan!


So, the gala is wrapped. The opera staff is very proud of what we put together, and also very tired! I have a cold. Isn't that always how it goes? But the dress was, as usual, worth it.