August 5, 2020

Press Release: Karen Slack and Damien Geter join Portland Opera as Artistic Advisors

Portland Opera is delighted to announce that renowned artists Karen Slack and Damien Geter have joined the company as Artistic Advisors. Slack and Geter will work with General Director Sue Dixon, and interim Artistic Director Daniel Biaggi, on expanded repertoire, casting, public programming, and community engagement.

“Karen and Damien represent a new generation of leadership—informed by their individual commitments to social justice and cultural equity in the classical music and opera fields,” says Sue Dixon. “I am grateful to be able to welcome their collaborative artistic perspectives to the company, as we convene our vision and plan for what is next.”

Hailed for possessing a voice of extraordinary beauty, a seamless legato, and great dramatic depth, American soprano Karen Slack has appeared with the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Washington National Opera, and San Francisco Opera. Most recently seen as Serena in Porgy and Bess at the Metropolitan Opera, and as Billie in the world premiere of Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up In My Bones with Opera Theater of St. Louis, Slack has also appeared as Alice Ford in Falstaff, Leonora in Il Trovatore and Tosca with Arizona Opera, as Aïda at Austin Opera, Emelda Griffith in Champion with New Orleans Opera, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Nashville Opera, and made her Scottish Opera debut as Anna in Puccini’s Le Villi. “I am delighted to begin this new venture with Portland Opera,” says Slack. “As theaters are looking ahead to the future and planning what is next in our industry, I am proud to be part of a team that is actively striving to be the change we have desired for so long. Thank you to Sue Dixon for her courage and leadership. I look forward to growing artistically with this fantastic organization and am eager to connect with the Portland community.”

Portland-based composer, singer, and educator Damien Geter infuses classical music with various styles from the Black diaspora to create music that furthers the cause for social justice. Recent commissions include The Washington Chorus, Washington National Opera, and the University of Michigan. His work An African American Requiem will premiere in 2021 in partnership with Resonance Ensemble and the Oregon Symphony. Portland Opera patrons are also familiar with his work as a classical singer (bass), having appeared in numerous Portland Opera productions, including most recently in La Traviata, The Difficulty of Crossing a Field, The Little Match Girl Passion, and La Bohème. “I’m thrilled to be a part of Portland Opera’s vision for what opera will look like in the 21st century—not just in Portland, but everywhere,” says Geter. “Primed to become a leader in the industry, Portland Opera is set to challenge the status quo by imparting relevant stories in today’s social climate. Because of this, the art of opera will not only survive, but will thrive.”

Complete biographies follow. Additional details regarding Portland Opera’s strategic plan for the future can be found here.

ABOUT KAREN SLACK

Hailed for possessing a voice of extraordinary beauty, a seamless legato, and great dramatic depth, American soprano Karen Slack has appeared with the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Washington National Opera, and San Francisco Opera.

Most recently seen as Serena in Porgy and Bess at the Metropolitan Opera, and as Billie in the world premiere of Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up In My Bones with Opera Theater of St. Louis, Slack has also appeared as Alice Ford in Falstaff, Leonora in Il Trovatore and Tosca with Arizona Opera, as Aïda at Austin Opera, Emelda Griffith in Champion with New Orleans Opera, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Nashville Opera, and made her Scottish Opera debut as Anna in Puccini’s Le Villi. The 2018-2019 season saw her as Tosca with Opera Birmingham, Addie Parker in Charlie Parker’s Yardbird with Arizona Opera, Sister Rose in Dead Man Walking with Atlanta Opera, and Serena in Porgy and Bess with Fort Worth Opera.

In concert, she was a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra in the world premiere of Hannibal Lokumbe’s Healing Tones with conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Union Symphony Orchestra for Wagner’s Wesendonk Lieder. She made her Metropolitan Opera debut in the title role of Verdi’s Luisa Miller and this season returned as Serena in Porgy and Bess. The 2019-2020 season also included a series of recitals throughout the US including the Vilar Center for the Performing Arts in Vail, Colorado with pianist Joe Illick. Additionally, Ms. Slack portrayed a featured role as the Opera Diva in Tyler Perry’s movie and soundtrack “For Colored Girls”.

Equally at home on the concert stage, Ms. Slack has performed Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Mahler’s 2nd Symphony and the Verdi’s Requiem with various orchestras throughout the US. Abroad she has appeared with the Melbourne Symphony, Sydney Symphony, the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, and most recently with the St. Petersburg’s Philharmonic in celebration of the 80th birthday of Maestro Yuri Temirkanov. She made her Carnegie Hall debut as Agnes Sorel in Tchaikovsky’s Maid of Orleans with Orchestra St. Luke’s and will return in Spring 2021 with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra for Beethoven’s Egmont. Additional upcoming engagements for the 2020-2021 season include her debut with the Houston Grand Opera for the world premiere of Joel Thompson’s A Snowy Day, Poulenc’s La Voix Humane with Madison and Austin Opera, Atlanta’s Spivey Hall recital with Alan Morrison in the world premiere of a work by American composer Adolphus Halistork, Verdi’s Requiem with Highlander Concert Series at the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, and a concert of arias with Omaha Opera and Symphony.

A graduate of the Adler Fellowship and Merola Opera Program at the San Francisco Opera, the native Philadelphian is also a graduate of the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music. She is a winner of numerous competitions and awards: most notably the Montserrat Caballé International Competition, Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, George London Foundation Award, Marian Anderson ICON Award, Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation, Rosa Ponselle International Vocal Competition, Portland Opera Lieber Award, Liederkranz Foundation Award and the Jose Iturbi International Competition for Voice.

ABOUT DAMIEN GETER

Damien Geter’s artistry and career is diverse and multifaceted—including critically-acclaimed work as a composer, classical singer (bass), actor, and scholar.

As a composer, Damien Geter infuses classical music with various styles from the Black diaspora to create music that furthers the cause of social justice. His most recent composition, The Talk: Instructions for Black Children When They Interact with the Police, was premiered with Resonance Ensemble in June 2019. His large work for chorus and orchestra, An African American Requiem, is due to premiere with Resonance Ensemble and the Oregon Symphony in January 2021, along with a national broadcast; and a future performance of the piece is planned at the Kennedy Center in May 2021. In addition, he has been commissioned to create new works by The University of Michigan, The Washington Chorus, and Opera Theater Oregon, among others.

As a classical singer (bass), Damien’s diverse performance credits range from the operatic stage to the television screen. Damien’s 2019-2020 season includes appearances with the Metropolitan Opera (Undertaker in Porgy and Bess), Seattle Opera (Colonel in The Rising and the Falling), Eugene Opera (Angelotti in Tosca). Other appearances included roles with Seattle Opera in the role of the Undertaker, and covering the role of Jake in Porgy and Bess; with Vashon Opera in the role of Colline in La Bohème and Dr.Grenvil in Verdi’s La Traviata with Portland Opera. Additional credits include the Four Villains in Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann; Colline in Puccini’s La Bohème; Alcindoro (La Bohème), Bass Slave (David Lang’s The Difficulty of Crossing a Field), and Soloist (David Lang’s Little Match Girl Passion). A highly sought-after singer on the concert stage, Damien’s repertoire in that realm includes Elijah, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Brahms’ Requiem, Verdi’s Requiem, and Mozart’s Requiem, to name a few.

Damien made his TV debut in the role of John Sacks on NBC’s Grimm. He was also seen in Netflix’s Trinkets which aired in the spring of 2019. He is the owner of DG Music, Sans Fear Publishing. Additional information can be found by visiting www.damiengeter.com and www.damiengetermusic.com.

ABOUT PORTLAND OPERA

Since 1964, Portland Opera has contributed to the cultural, artistic, and economic landscape of the city and region that we love. We celebrate the beauty and breadth of opera with performances that take place in the Keller Auditorium, Newmark Theatre, and the Gregory K. and Mary Chomenko Hinckley Studio Theatre at the Hampton Opera Center. The company is also a committed educational partner, touring fully staged operas to schools and community centers throughout Oregon and SW Washington region each year, in addition to a host of other efforts designed to celebrate the art of opera on and off of the stage.

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Contact:
Silja Tobin, Marketing & Communications Manager | Portland Opera
503-417-0574 | press@portlandopera.org