2014/15 Season

 


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On December 11, 1964 in the Madison High School auditorium, conductor Henry Holt gave the downbeat for Die Fledermaus, launching Portland Opera’s inaugural production. This champagne-fueled operetta is the magnum opus of Johann Strauss II, the “Waltz King” whose works include “The Blue Danube” and “Tales from the Vienna Woods.”


When wine, women and song unite at Prince Orlofsky’s masked ball, elaborate plots are uncorked and romantic assignations go astray. At the epicenter of it all is Gabriel von Eisenstein, disguised as suave “Monsieur Renard” and blissfully unaware that the piquant Hungarian countess he is wooing is actually his own wife, Rosalinde. By daybreak the party guests are all at the city jail, where the von Eisensteins find their passion for each other rekindled and everyone is free to leave…after a final chorus in honor of champagne, of course!


Performed in English with titles projected above the stage.


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To the soldier Don José, she is hypnotic: “Never, never has any woman so deeply disturbed my soul. You are a devil.” To Micaëla, Don José’s sweetheart, she is the most potent of rivals: “She is beautiful, dangerous. Her snares have turned the man I loved into a disgrace.” To Escamillo, Don José’s rival, she is inspiration: “Tell me your name and the next time I kill a bull, yours will be the one I whisper.”


To audiences at her premiere she was “the very incarnation of vice,” outlined in music that was “dull and obscure.” To today’s audiences, she is seen as one of the strongest and most independent women ever to dominate the stage. Mezzo-sopranos who have successfully conquered the role are legendary. Sandra Piques Eddy is quickly becoming part of this elite group: “There have been many great Carmens through the years; Marilyn Horne, Agnes Baltsa, Tatiana Troyanos, to name a few. Sandra Piques Eddy deserves to be placed alongside those legends.” (Opera Online) “A sexy balance of physical elegance and visceral appetites.” (Kansas City Star) “A wonderful singing actress whose Carmen used her burgundy rich-low register as a powerful tool of seduction.” (Chicago Tribune).


Sung in French with English titles projected above the stage.

  

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Show Boat revolutionized American musical theater, thanks to its epic story and musical sophistication. This saga of three romances that blossom aboard a Mississippi River show boat reflected the true face of America as it was…and still is today, more than 80 years later. Love, tragic and triumphant. The joys and challenges of marriage and parenthood. Struggles against prejudice, racism and economic injustice.


Show boat Cap’n Andy Hawks loses his leading lady with the revelation that she is of mixed-race parentage. Despite his wife’s objections, he turns their daughter Magnolia into their new star. The impressionable young woman soon meets Gaylord Ravenal, a riverboat rake who quickly progresses from her leading man to husband and father of their child. Snags soon scuttle their happiness, however, and it takes a two-decade journey to reunite the three generations on their beloved show boat. Jerome Kern’s score teems with powerful choruses, romantic duets and masterful songs, including “Bill,” “Make Believe,” “Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man,” and above all, “Ol’ Man River.”


Sung in English with titles projected above the stage.


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1733: William Hogarth crafts ‘A Rake’s Progress,’ an eight-painting chronicle tracing the rise and fall of reprobate Tom Rakewell in 18th-century London society. The paintings are sensationally popular and the public snaps up engravings of them.


1951: Igor Stravinsky composes The Rake’s Progress, based on the Hogarths which premieres in Venice. A musical homage to Mozart, the opera blends comedy and drama à la Don Giovanni with Stravinsky’s wit and spiky humor. The surprised and delighted public snaps up tickets.


1975: David Hockney creates now-legendary scenic and costume designs for The Rake’s Progress at England’s Glyndebourne Festival. Interpreting Hogarth’s visual world through his own playful sensibilities, Hockney brings the opera’s time and place to exuberant life and the public snaps up tickets.


2015: The combined genius of Hogarth, Stravinsky and Hockney comes together here in Portland. The Rake’s Progress staging will be accompanied by a Portland Art Museum exhibition of Hogarth's prints as well as a selection of Hockney’s original drawings, watercolors, and designs for the production.


Sung in English with projected titles above the stage.

  

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Our 50th anniversary celebration began in Vienna and it ends in the American Wild West, a creative and ingenious setting for Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love. Like Die Fledermaus, The Elixir of Love is a celebration of love’s intoxicating power…and the powerful intoxication of a certain snake-oil salesman’s 40-proof love potion.


Nemorino the cowpoke is snake-bit in love. High-falutin’ Adina laughs off his every attempt to rustle up some romance with her, especially after the gaudy Sergeant Belcore rides into town. Desperate, Nemorino enlists in Belcore’s battalion and invests his bonus in a large dose of Doctor Dulcamara’s “Elixir of Love.” Giddy with hope, Nemorino suddenly seems younger, handsomer, and richer to all the village girls. Even Adina starts responding to his homespun charm, so she packs Belcore off to conquer other hearts and pledges her own to Nemorino.


The Elixir of Love will be performed in the intimate Newmark Theatre and will showcase the Portland Opera Resident Artists. When the curtain falls, you'll depart on a glorious midsummer night, looking forward with keen anticipation to the start of our next 50 years.


Sung in Italian with English titles projected above the stage.

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The Hampton Opera Center
211 SE Caruthers St.
Portland, OR 97214