alternative opera in portland, oregon


“OTO has thrillingly turned opera on its head, making it fun and relatable for today’s audiences. By “mashing-up” this centuries-old genre with film, cheeky TV shows and improv in unexpected venues, they present opera in a way that’s entirely new.”

-Christa Wessel, On-Air host, All Classical 89.9

“The plucky alt.classical company helped revitalize Portland’s classical music scene with its innovative and informal productions…”

-Brett Campbell, Oregon Arts Watch

“Opera Theater Oregon is an echt-Portland opera company, an irreverent, outside-the-box, keeping-it-weird troupe devoted to mashing up high art with popular culture at the intersection of avant-garde staging and outright mayhem.”

-James McQuillen, the Oregonian


“From almost shut down to sold out, “The Cunning Little Vixen” began its four-day run July 24 of charming pitch-perfect moments under the creeping twilight at Sauvie Island’s Wild Goose Farm. With its own chickens and likely a fox, the farm fits Opera Theater Oregon’s knack for nailing offbeat venues. Now in its eighth shoestring-budget year of making alt-music for the open-minded operagoer, OTO once again pushed the envelope and satisfied the law: after losing its first week of performances when a flip-flopping land use regulator withdrew its earlier approval, the resilient company moved the opera outside the barn and performed in plein air. Anything is possible, accessible and adorable, this performance proves, including ticket prices at $20.”

-Angela Allen, Oregon Arts Watch

“OTO’s mission is making opera accessible, and The Cunning Little Vixen has something for each of your senses, with food, dance, sprightly folk music, and an orchard setting on Sauvie Island…a Portlander’s perfect summer fever dream: music, great food, and the lush outdoors.”

-Jenna Lechner, The Portland Mercury 

“What a perfect location for that production! With the birds and bugs and natural scenery, everything just fit perfectly.” –Erin
“Wow. What a wonderful treat. Cunning Little Vixen was beautiful in its natural splendor on Sauvie Island. The dancing, costumes, singing was first rate. What a joy to experience Janacek’s opera in a setting that he likely envisioned.”-Lindsey
“A spectacular evening…amazing in every way!”-Elizabeth
“Beautiful show tonight! Very magical, haunting, lovely evening. Did you hear the coyotes howling in the distance at the end? Wow. Beautifully sung, played and danced.”-Katie
“We were thrilled with the production of the opera.  The music, singing and choreography were all done with excellence.  It was amazing how all the movements (people and animals) were true to their nature and type.”-Helena and Mark
“Everything about it was marvelous, including the venue, the riveted audience, and the perfect props and costumes and set, as well as, of course, the superb performers!”-Terence
“Congratulations on such a wonderful performance of Vixen!  It was so creative and fun, and I REALLY enjoyed the outdoor performance venue – the farm and the opera were a perfect match for each other!”- Clare Burovac, Portland Opera
“We so enjoyed the opera last night. Thank you for all of your hard work. It was incredible.”-Teri
“What a wonderful production!  It was amazing to see how wonderfully your vision for the show came together…what an amazing setting for this work and an excellent group of musicians, dancers, and fun costumes.  We had a great time, the staging was great, the music came across way better than one could dream of in an outdoor setting with no reverberating surfaces.”-Ben


“…the irony is perfectly calibrated to enliven the production without demeaning the opera itself. Saturday night, Robert Hill’s announcements, delivered in the arch tones of KQAC’s fictional Wally Willamette, and Ian Timmons’ intoning of Justin Ralls’ jingles were sufficiently tongue-in-cheek for comic effect. But the singers — Christine Meadows as the spinster of the title; Audrey Sackett as her housemaid and rival; Lisa Mooyman as her gossipy neighbor; and Erik Hundtoft as the handsome vagabond whose arrival sets the story in motion — addressed their roles sincerely and in fine voice. Erica Melton led the five-part orchestra in a tight, fast-paced performance, and production values of the set and costumes were high. It’s hard to imagine an ordinary revival of the piece that could be so thoroughly entertaining.”

-James McQuillen, The Oregonian 

“In this ingenious, pell mell-paced new production of American composer Gian Carlo Menotti’s sly, funny and ultimately poignant one-act 1939 opera buffa about small town gossip, “The Old Maid and the Thief,” the ever inventive alt opera company brilliantly takes an opera that was intended to be heard on the radio and realizes it onstage — and in this case, meta is better. With help from sound effects artists and voice actors, the company transforms Northwest Portland’s vintage Mission Theater into a 1930s radio studio, with the audience witnessing not just the story itself but also the new frame narrative: a live recording of the performance for chamber quintet and a cast of singer-actors led by PSU prof and superb soprano (and PSU prof) Christine Meadows. It’s sort of a combination of a live opera and a radio production, but the clever concept never distracts from the fun and fine music making by a chamber ensemble skillfully led by OTO’s Erica Melton.”

-Brett Campbell, Oregon Arts Watch

“The show was kooky and delightful and good opera besides.” -Gigi


“Viemeister fully embodies Melisande’s elusiveness, and Matthew Hayward makes an ardent Pelleas. All three sing beautifully and appropriately for the Mission’s intimate space, with adult beverages and food available. The set and blocking ingeniously match the film action, so that the audience seems to be slipping in and out of a mid-century European resort hotel, like a dream within a dream. Set and lighting designers Brian Melton and Peter West masterfully evoke the twilit world. Director Clara Weishahn’s stylized gestures both draw on the film’s movement vocabulary and reinforce the sense of myth. This unlikely combination of film, myth and music is a dream you won’t want to end.”

Brett Campbell, Willamette Week

“The show maintains the company’s expected fun and casual air—I for one ate a piece of pizza  during the performance—and goes a long way in their mission of “Making opera safe for America.”
Jenna Lechner, The Portland Mercury

“I am a certified Debussy fanatic, and count me in as a fan of OTO’s take on Pelleas!” -Jeff 

“I’m a recent transplant to Portland and this was my first exposure to OTO.  I was totally blown away.  What an amazing, creative production.  Gorgeous music, very professionally performed and sung, a great setting at the Mission Theater — but most amazing was the concept of the production. Really top tier.”  -Robert

“I was quite overwhelmed with the production.  I thought it was beautiful and really well done.” –Kayla

“I really liked the way…the actors use the space at McMenamins. And I was so impressed with the way live actors and filmed actors were used to tell the story.” –Bill

“What a great experience! The orchestra performed so beautiful, and the voices, gorgeous! It sounded like a dream, a french dream. Before I knew it, it was over. I was left wanting more! Usually with a long drawn out symphony or super long opera, I will find myself trying to stay awake. Not this one! The mixed media, film/opera, is  OTO’s genius way of capturing any audience.” –Rose

“If you are not sure about opera, the casual setting might be just what you need to give it a try. I like their mission. Opera should be safe for America.” –Patrick

OUT OF EDEN, February 2011:

“With its production of Out of Eden, Opera Theater Oregon continues to successfully take a time-honored opera and transform it into an engaging new story…A strong and well-matched cast led by Daniel Buchanan as Werther, Clare Craig-Sheets as Marie, and Deac Guidi as Bernard drove up the tension with outstanding acting and singing. All three excelled in conveying a variety of emotions that ranged from volcanic outbursts of anger to the haunting lyricism of longing and despair.”

-James Bash, Oregon Music News


“This unique, wacked-out show took Wagner’s music to a place that it has never gone before – Malibu Beach, using an episode of the popular 90s TV series Baywatch for the plot and characters. The singing, acting, musicianship, and low-budget scenery combined to make a hilarious evening for those who have never seen an opera before as well as those who are bona fide Wagner buffs.”

-James Bash, Oregon Music News


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