Portland SummerFest Presents Opera in the Park 2015
Free Opera in the Park exists for, and because of, people like you!Portland SummerFest’s mission is to enrich the cultural life of the Portland community by providing professional opera performances of high artistic quality to the public free of charge and by nurturing the next generation of singers.
You can join our chorus of supporters by making a tax-deductible donation to Portland SummerFest so we can continue to bring you free Opera in the Park every year. Visit our Support SummerFest page for ways to donate. All donations, large and small, are appreciated. Thank you!
Summerfest Opera in the Park: Angela Meade leads highlight-packed program (review)Portland’s classical music scene this time of year is as sere as the parched landscape, with just a couple of major events that could hardly be more different.
Friday night, the choir Cantores in Ecclesia opened its annual William Byrd Festival, which unfolds over the next two weeks with authority and solemnity in sacred settings.
And Saturday, Portland SummerFest gave an over-the-top program of opera favorites in front of the towering cedar hedge of the Washington Park amphitheater.
Summerfest’s August opera offering has long been an improbably great event for a free outdoor gig, not least because conductor Keith Clark consistently engages stellar vocalists including star soprano Angela Meade. Joining her this time around were Metropolitan Opera colleagues mezzo Mary Ann McCormick and tenor Cameron Schutza as well as soprano Amy Hansen and baritone Luis Ledesma.
The program featured mostly music from Verdi and Puccini, so it was a summer evening of opera's grandest and most wrenching emotions presented amid picnickers and scampering children.
Highlights: You could hardly have put together a more highlight-packed program. The orchestra opened with the overture to “William Tell,” the chorus sang big hits from Verdi’s “Nabucco” and “Aida,” and the soloists delivered arias and ensembles including “Vissi d’arte,” “Nessun dorma” and “O mio babbino caro.”
Low notes: It was a free outdoor concert with amplified singers, apparently minimal rehearsal and unrestrained listeners, so if you were inclined to complain about tinny sound, draggy tempos and a restless, talkative audience, you should probably just bite your tongue. The whole thing was pretty impressive, considering.
Most valuable performer: Meade deserves high honors for her participation in the festival, her performance throughout Saturday night’s concert and—to choose just one moment—her scorching final measures of “Pace, pace mio Dio” from Verdi’s “La forza del destino.” If there had been a roof, she’d have blown it off. But the ensemble was strong and well-matched, with all five singers lending a cheerful, celebratory air.
Takeaway: SummerFest’s Opera in the Park program is a treasure, whether it presents abridged operas in concert form or greatest-hits programs like Saturday’s. For opera to live as a popular art form, it needs to belong in parks as much as it does in opera houses.
—James McQuillen for The Oregonian/OregonLive
Please Join Us for Free Opera In The ParkPortland SummerFest Presents Opera in the Park has brought free opera to more than 40,000 Oregonians since the first performance of The Barber of Seville in 2003, drawing the largest crowds of the Washington Park Summer Concert series. Opera in the Park attracts audiences of all ages and backgrounds who attend performances to enjoy this unique contribution to the cultural life of Portland. Presented in concert format with full orchestra and lively narration, these concerts have introduced thousands of Portlanders to the world of opera and been avidly attended by a growing number of loyal fans.
Opera in the Park is free to all. The audience atmosphere is informal and welcoming. Picnics and families are welcome!