CONTACT: Emily Stevens, 503-417-0569




November 1, 3, 7, and 9, 2013  |  Keller Auditorium, SW 3rd & Clay

(Portland, Ore.) — Portland Opera’s first opera of the 2013/14 Season is a new production of Richard Strauss’s one act opera, Salome, opening November 1 at Keller Auditorium, with additional performances November 3, 7, and 9, 2013. Tickets begin at $20.

“Strauss’s brazenly modern retelling takes off from Oscar Wilde’s 1891 play Salomé, in which the princess shamelessly eroticizes the body of John the Baptist and indulges in a touch of necrophilia at the end,” explains The New Yorker music critic Alex Ross in his book The Rest is Noise.  Rather than setting the text in a traditional verse form, like most opera lyrics, Strauss’s librettois a direct translation of Wilde’s play by German author Hedwig Lachmann. Portland Opera Music Director GEORGE MANAHANconducts the score that Strauss himself described in a 1942 essay as “truly exotic harmony, which shimmer[s], especially in the strange cadences, like iridescent silk.”

At the opera’s premiere in Dresden in 1905, the cast stood for 28 separate curtain calls, and after a performance in Vienna in 1906, Austrian author and music critic Ernst Décsey declared, “nothing more satanic and artistic has been seen on the German opera stage.” The Oregonian agreed—after Portland Opera’s last Salome in 1990—that it “is an opera that has to be seen to be appreciated, if appreciate is the right word… the full effect of Richard Strauss’s overripe drama comes from seeing the characters worm their way through depravity, eroticism, and vengeance.”

In Portland Opera’s first new production on the Keller Stage since Cinderella in 2007, Stage Director STEPHEN LAWLESS returns to reconceive Strauss’s tour-de-force for the 21st century. Willamette Week praised his Marriage of Figaro in 2011 for its “cheery dramatization of serious and political conflicts… when the action shifts elsewhere, class and gender issues come to the fore.” Mr. Lawless will use this keen ability to distill a timeless story into a modern parable for this production of Salome. "Strauss’s treatment of Oscar Wilde’s play catches the decadence of an apocalyptic world,” explained Mr. Lawless, “where the normal rules of morality have ceased to exist.”

Scenic Designer BENOIT DUGARDYN, who originally trained as an architect before switching to scenic design, is creating the crumbling landscape that reflects the characters’ moral demise. “The setting is a once-opulent hotel ballroom, slowly crumbling around the characters,” he explained. “The floor has fallen through to the basement underneath, and the ceiling is about to cave in.” This is Mr. Dugardyn’s first production with Portland Opera.

Also making her Portland Opera debut is Costume Designer INGEBORG BERNERTH, whodrew inspiration from haute couture to portray Herodias and Herod’s power, excess, and greed. To contrast with this luxury, she looked to modern uniforms, from doctor’s to mechanic’s uniforms, and from American to Middle Eastern soldier’s uniforms.  She was also inspired by traditional religious garments and images of contemporary religious figures, using them to represent the wide range of modern religions.

Called “a revelation” and praised for her “viscerally exciting” Brünnhilde by The Washington Post, soprano KELLY CAE HOGANsings her first role at Portland Opera, after making her debut at the Big Night Concert on September 21, 2013. Now making her mark internationally as a dramatic soprano, Ms. Hogan began her career performing the role of Carlotta on tour with The Phantom of the Opera and in the ensemble of The Sound of Music on Broadway. After singing Gerhilde at the Metropolitan Opera in Die Walküre under the batons of Maestros James Levine, Fabio Luisi, Lorin Maazel, and Donald Runnicles, Ms. Hogan is now taking on the title role of Brünnhilde, which she first sang with Virginia Opera and then subsequently with Opera North in a live BBC Radio broadcast. She was praised by the German newspaper Kreiszeitung for her ability to portray Strauss’s Salome with “almost unearthly beautiful sounds,” and has performed the role with the Polish National Opera, Florentine Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas, and on tour in Japan.

Well-known for his crossover work into Broadway is bass baritone DAVID PITTSINGER, who returns to Portland Opera to sing the role of the ill-fated prisoner Jokanaan, John the Baptist. Mr. Pittsinger was last seen in Portland as Count Almaviva in The Marriage of Figaro in November 2011and in the U.S. Bank Broadway Across America Portland touring production of South Pacific in August 2010. Mr. Pittsinger has been praised as “spectacularly agile” by The New York Timesand is believed to be the only performer to sing on Broadway and at the Metropolitan Opera in the same day, when, on March 13, 2010 he performed a matinee at the Lincoln Center Theater on Broadway as Émile de Becque in South Pacific and then an evening performance as the Ghost of Hamlet’s father in the Met’s Hamlet.

Veteran mezzo soprano ROSALIND PLOWRIGHT, who sang her first professional role as the Page in Salome at English National Opera in 1975, now makes her Portland Opera debut in another role from Salome, Herodias,Salome’s mother. The Guardian described her Herodias at the Royal Opera House as  “refreshingly uncaricatured; it's easy to imagine her as the chic hostess of the dinner party that's going on upstairs as the gruesome events unfold beneath.” In 2007 Ms. Plowright was made an officer of the Order of the British Monarchy by Queen Elizabeth for her services to music, a rare privilege for any living musician.

Tenor ALAN WOODROWis also making his Portland Opera debut as Salome’s stepfather Herod. Alan Woodrow studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto and at the London Opera Centre. After completing his studies he joined English National Opera, where he was principal tenor for several years. It was his exceptional debut in BohuslavMartinů's The Greek Passion at the Edinburgh Festival that first brought him to the attention of major European houses and launched his international career. Herod has become one of his signature roles, and The Times (London) said, “Woodrow’s magnificent performance comes near to dominating the evening… I haven’t seen a Herod to touch him.”

The “thoroughly compelling” (Seen and Heard International) tenor RIC FURMANwill sing Narraboth, the Captian of the Guard who is seduced and also destroyed by the lovely princess Salome. Hailed as a “beautiful tenor” by Opera News, Ric Furman made an unscheduled Seattle Opera debut last season when he was called at the last minute to perform Florestan in Beethoven’s Fidelio, a role he had been covering. The Sun Break praised his “big voice of beautiful timbre” and Seen and Heard International found his performance “thoroughly compelling in his evocation first of utter despair and eventually of exultant joy.”

“It’s swift, it’s brutal, and it’s bloody,” said Portland Opera General Director Christopher Mattaliano, “Salome is a 90-minute roller coaster ride that will knock you sideways.” Adds George Manahan, Portland Opera’s Music Director and conductor for this production of Salome, “This score is a dizzyingly electric and electrifying piece for singers and orchestra alike. The sheer variety of colors and unusual effects has an impact that really stays with you long after the final note is played.”


SalomeKelly Cae Hogan
HerodAlan Woodrow*
HerodiasRosalind Plowright*
JokanaanDavid Pittsinger
NarrabothRic Furman
PageMelissa Fajardo†
First JewJon Kolbet
Second JewIan José Ramirez†
Third JewCarl Halvorson
Fourth JewMarcus Shelton
Fifth JewDarren Stokes*
First NazareneAnton Belov
Second NazareneDavid Warner
First SoldierJonathan Kimple
Second SoldierKonstantin Kvach
CappadocianAndré Flynn
With the Portland Opera Orchestra
* Portland Opera debut 
† Portland Opera Resident Artist 
Stage DirectorStephen Lawless
ChoreographerMatthew Ferraro*
ConductorGeorge Manahan
Scenic DesignerBenoit Dugardyn*
Costume DesignerIngeborg Bernerth*
Lighting DesignerMarc McCullough*
* Portland Opera debut 

For musical excerpts, plot synopsis and detailed cast bios, click here.


Music:Richard Strauss
Libretto:Hedwig Lachmann’s German translation of Oscar Wilde’s play Salome.
Lyrics:Sung in German with English translations projected above the stage.
World Premiere:Hofoper, Dresden: December 9, 1905
Portland Opera Premiere:May 1975

November 1, 3, 7, 9, 2013

All performances begin at 7:30pm, with the exception of the 2:00pm matinee on November 3.


RELATED EVENTS (Calendar Editors Kindly Note)

In its ongoing quest to make opera as accessible as possible, Portland Opera has a robust schedule of events designed to explore the many facets of Salome.


Tune in to All Classical 89.9 FM for an in-depth preview of Salome:

10/24/13     “Northwest Previews,” All Classical 89.9 FM, 6pm

10/26/13     “Saturday Matinee,”  All Classical 89.9 FM, 1pm


Enjoy a live, 50-minute sneak peek of Salome:

       10/27/13      Multnomah County Central Library, Collins Gallery, 2pm,Free


Opera In-Depth Series

Learn more about each opera at one of Portland Opera's special Opera In-Depth lectures. These 90-minute sessions feature fascinating stories, historical background and musical information about the composers, librettists and operas in these entertaining and illuminating presentations. Each session is illustrated by audio and visual examples and includes a question-and-answer and discussion period.

Lecturers:Robert Kingston and Alexis Hamilton
Date: October 21, 2013
Time: 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Location: The Hampton Opera Center, 211 SE Caruthers Street, Camerata Room
Cost: $25 general, $10 student rush

Tickets available by calling: 503-241-1802

Opera Insights

These free and informative sessions, led by Resident Historian and Lecturer Bob Kingston, focus on the music and history behind the evening’s opera in ways that make each performance even more satisfying.

1 hour prior to each performance  First Balcony Level.  Free

Back Talk

Immediately after each opera performance, audiences are invited to join General Director Christopher Mattaliano and an interesting variety of guests that will include fresh-from-their-dressing-room performers, directors, and conductors for a 20-30 minute Q&A. 

Orchestra Level  Free




SALOME  |  Fri. 11/01, Thurs. 11/07, Sat. 11/09, at 7:30pm  |  Sun. 11/03 at 2:00pm

Tickets, starting as low as $20.00, can be purchased:

BY PHONE:       Portland Opera Box Office, 503-241-1802, Toll-free 866-739-6737, (Mon – Fri, 9:00am – 5:00pm). Ticketmaster, 800-982-ARTS (days, evenings, and weekends).
IN-PERSON:Portland Opera Box Office, 211 SE Caruthers St. (just south of OMSI, off Water Ave.) Mon – Fri, 9:00am – 5:00pm.  Ticketmaster outlets.
GROUPS:Groups of 8+ tickets save up to 25% off by calling 503-295-3509 or emailing groups@portland.org.
6:00 RUSH: Students/Military $10 per ticket, Seniors $20 per ticket, 1 hour prior to show only, all available unsold seats. 1 ticket per person, valid ID required.

*Salome contains adult themes, including violence and sexual content.


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