During the pandemic, our Community Engagement Working Group, led by Portland Opera Board Member Hugh Harris, helped transform the way we work, building connections and stronger communities as our region reopens from COVID-19 closures. The working group included Jenny Stadler of PHAME Academy, Jonathan Garcia of Portland Public Schools, and Dr. Leroy Bynum of Portland State University, as well as members of the Portland Opera Board of Directors, and Portland Opera staff. Today, as we head into 2023, the staff of Portland Opera continues to build upon these foundational changes and insights brought forward from the community working group.
The board and staff of Portland Opera has also been in conversations about strategic goals for ongoing programs, how best to measure engagement over time, and how to work with stakeholders and community members to develop a meaningful civic, social, and artistic practice for Portland Opera’s future.
In summer of 2022, we toured the region with our award-winning Opera a la Cart pop-up performance venue, sharing more than 40 community performances at street fairs, parks, partner locations, and festivals. This year Opera a la Cart joined the return of Sunday Parkways in Portland neighborhoods, added to the celebration at the Oregon City Festival of the Arts, sang at Pioneer Courthouse Square, Cartlandia, the Vancouver Arts Walk, La Strada Chalk Festival in Hillsboro, and much more! In addition to the cart performances, we also partnered with Portland Parks Lunch & Play program once again to bring Opera Elements to children and families in select city parks. In addition, we joined more than 10,000 people at Pioneer Courthouse Square in celebrating India Day, and began planning for the season ahead: laying the groundwork for new collaborations with Lincoln High Schools Cardinal Choir, Portland State University masterclasses, and more.
In fall of 2022, we were delighted to relaunch our in-person Portland Opera Resident Artist program, and welcomed the 22/23 Portland Opera Resident Artists, in an adapted program that focused on their work with Carmen. Our 22/23 Portland Opera Resident Artists included soprano Judy Yannini, mezzo-soprano Cloe SanAntonio, tenor Matthew Cerillo, and bass-baritone Keanon Kyles.
During their residency, this ensemble made community connections that resulted in artistic and professional opportunities such as baritone Keanon Kyles being interviewed on KGW8's new morning show, "Hello! Rose City" with host Lacey Evans. Also, soprano Judy Yannini and POGO's Beatrice pianist Astrid Morales joined forces for a performance at the La Casita Art Gallery & Cultural Center for a First Friday artwalk event in Vancouver, WA in early October.
The 22/23 Portland Opera Resident Artists residency culminated in a free public performance at The Old Church in November, 2022. Learn about these amazing artists here.
We also connected with two organizations to collaborate on engagement events free to the community inspired by our production of Carmen. We shared the Opera a la Cart stage in Pioneer Courthouse Square with Experience Flamenco Portland in August and in early October we collaborated with Flamenco Pacifico on a series of free events titled "Dance, Music, and Archetype" to create context around Carmen.
In fall of 2022, we also announced that Jasmine Johnson, Portland Opera's first Ensemble Leadership Fellow (ELF), will continue the fellowship for the 2022/23 season. Nearing the end of the season, Jasmine will share a public recital as one way to mark the culmination of her fellowship.
This new ELF program aims to move the art form forward by providing career advancement opportunities for individuals who have been historically underrepresented in the world of opera, in both administrative and artistic roles. You can learn more about Jasmine and her work with the company here.
As of May, 2023, we are actively recruiting and auditioning for our next slate of Portland Opera Resident Artists, and our second fellow to continue the Ensemble Leaders Fellowship. We're thrilled that the PORA program will be back to a longer cadence in the coming season, and we are excited to identify the newest ELF candidate to join our team.