Portland Opera continues the 2019/20 season with the premiere of a new production entitled An American Quartet: Four One-Act Operas. Each of these pieces, written by American composers, will be presented in the intimate black box theatre at Portland Opera's Hampton Opera Center.
In The Telephone, by Gian Carlo Menotti, constant calling interrupts a young man's intentions to propose marriage to his girlfriend. In Samuel Barber's A Hand of Bridge, four card players share their fears, hopes, and frustrations. In Douglas Moore's Gallantry, audiences will witness a television soap-opera (complete with a live soap commercial); and in Bon Appétit! by Lee Hoiby, Julia Child will teach the audience how to bake the perfect French chocolate cake.
Complimentary chocolate cake, provided by Papa Haydn, will be served after each performance. Portland Opera will present seven performances of An American Quartet on February 7, 9,11, 13, 15, 20, and 22 at the Gregory K. and Mary Chomenko Hinckley Studio Theatre at the Hampton Opera Center in southeast Portland.
Nicholas Fox, Portland Opera's assistant conductor and chorus master, will conduct these compact midcentury pieces. Allison Narver will make her Portland Opera debut directing this production. Mezzo-soprano Angela Niederloh, who was most recently on the Portland Opera stage in 2018 as Marthe in Gounod's Faust, will sing the role of the iconic Julia Child. Each of the four members of Portland Opera's Resident Artist program will be featured in multiple roles in this production. Soprano Emilie Faiella will make her Portland Opera debut singing the roles of Lucy in The Telephone, Geraldine in A Hand of Bridge, and Lola in Gallantry. Returning mezzo-soprano Camille Sherman will sing the roles of Sally in A Hand of Bridge and the Announcer in Gallantry. Tenor Ricardo Garcia will make his Portland Opera debut singing the roles of Bill in A Hand of Bridge and Donald in Gallantry. Baritone Geoffrey Schellenberg will return to the Portland Opera stage as Ben in The Telephone, David in A Hand of Bridge, and Doctor Gregg in Gallantry.
Portland Opera's Costume Director, Christine A. Richardson, designs the costumes for this new production, with set design by Peter Ksander and lighting design by Carl Faber. Sequoia will be featured on piano.
"In The Telephone and Gallantry, young love triumphs over the ordinary conflicts that obstruct it, from the comedic interruptions of the telephone, to the more sinister interferences of Dr. Gregg, which are, in turn, interrupted by soap commercials," says stage director Allison Narver. "In Bon Appétit! Julia Child, with all her wonderful idiosyncrasies, stands in her perfectly imperfect kitchen teaching us to bake something wonderful -- she is the sister-mother-best-friend-aunt that we all wish we had. Of all four operas, A Hand of Bridge allows us a glimpse behind the curtain, into the secret thoughts behind the perfect image of the two couples in their nightly bridge game."
An American Quartet is made possible by Curtis T. Thompson, MD and Associates and Winderlea Vineyard and Winery. Cake will be provided by Papa Haydn. Portland Opera is grateful for the ongoing support of the Meyer Memorial Trust, the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, Oregon Arts Commission, Regional Arts and Culture Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Portland Opera is a member of OPERA America.