Angela Allen

‘Suor Angelica’ & ‘Gianni Schicchi’ review: tearful tragedy and family farce

Portland State University Opera’s spring Puccini double-bill strikes a fine and fun balance

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch April 24, 2017

PSU Opera always surprises me with the high quality of its productions and the skill of its young singers, many of them undergraduates. This is not professional opera (though advisors and directors are professionals), but it can reach impressive heights, and does in this double bill of two very different, very… Read More

Dave Holland

Dave Holland Trio preview: All about the bass

Jazz bassist and bandleader’s starry career has a Portland connection

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch April 5, 2017

Even before he steps onstage for his Friday concert in Portland, Dave Holland has made a sizable contribution to Oregon jazz. The world renowned jazz bassist owns the upright bass instrument that belonged to the  late “The Walker” Leroy Vinnegar. “Rather, I’m its custodian,” Holland said this spring from his… Read More

“Katya Kabanova” review: Tragic thrills

Set in a world that might be pre-Bolshevik Russia or Cold War America, Seattle Opera’s first production of a rarely staged Leos Janacek opera might even draw tears from Puccini fans

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch in March 2017

Unoccupied seats are often the price an opera company pays when it tries something new and off the oft-beaten path of French and Italian opera. There were plenty of empty rows opening night, February 25, at the Seattle Opera, but perhaps by the end of the Katya Kabanova run, seats will… Read More

Maria Schneider Orchestra and Kneebody: Many voices, one vision

PDX Jazz Festival opening weekend bands share fondness for diverse influences. But there’s one big difference.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch February 2017

“I have always loved a lot of different kinds of music,” Maria Schneider said in February from her Manhattan apartment where she’s lived for decades. In her multiple Grammy-winning jazz orchestra’s music, “the colors and forms and textures come from classical, flamenco, and Brazilian influences.” They’re tied together. “I love melody,”… Read More

Photo of Corrine Winters as Violetta. Photo by Philip Newton.

Seattle Opera’s ‘La Traviata’: Stripped-down tragedy

Shorn of lavish accoutrements and other inessentials, revelatory 21st century production gains force and focus

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch January 2017

There is nowhere to hide in this Traviata. Running only an hour and 50 minutes, German director Peter Konwitschny’s spare version, playing through January 28 at Seattle Opera, focuses keenly and persistently on its characters, on Giuseppe Verdi’s lush and ever-building music, and on the extreme emotions surrounding dying Violetta. She has struggled,… Read More

Kamasi Washington preview: Epic jazz

Expansive album vaults Los Angeles jazz saxophonist and bandleader to wider fame, but he's more concerned with spirituality than celebrity

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch November 2016.

Kamasi Washington has so charmed and befuddled music writers that some rely on the word “celebrity” to describe him. And a celebrity is rare thing in the tiny jazz world. Named for the capital of Ashanti, the West African pre-colonial kingdom that is now Ghana, Washington hasn’t won a Grammy… Read More

Catherine Russell preview: Artful swing from the ground up

Renowned jazz singer's new album is grounded in her Harlem roots

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch October 2016

“Some people feel music from the top down; they’re not hip-shakers. They like the violins and long tones,” Catherine Russell, 60, said from her downtown Manhattan home in late September. “Some of us are more rooted in the ground. We hear it from the ground up. Music makes me want… Read More

Renee Fleming

Renée Fleming review: Queen of the Night

Star soprano’s concert with the Oregon Symphony covers a wide range of vocal riches

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch September 2016

During the late 1970s and early ‘80s, Renée Fleming worked her way, in part, through State University of New York at Potsdam, and later at the Juilliard School, by singing jazz gigs. Saxophonist Illinois Jacquet thought she was good enough to tour with his big band when she was a… Read More

Raul Midón preview: Uncontainable talent

"Badass and Blind" New Mexico singer, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter's vast musical range can't be boxed in

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch September 2016

Put Raul Midón in a box and he’ll jump right out. Songwriter, instrumentalist, mouth-musician, soul singer, jazz improvisor, Latin songster, guitarist, baritone. None of those identifiers works alone to define his musical strengths. He is all, and more of them, and there’s no box that will contain him. His ribbons… Read More

Aleksandra Romano as Isabella with Taddeo

Portland Opera’s ‘Italian Girl’: Topsy turvy playground

Wacky production gives Rossini’s bubbly East-West comic tale contemporary appeal

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch July 2016

Pizza, bathing suits, peeping-Tom camels, selfie-sticks, a chorus dressed in modest underwear and a ruler in a loin cloth were among wacky details in Portland Opera’s The Italian Girl in Algiers (L’Italiana in Algeri) at its July 22 premiere in Portland’s Newmark Theatre. These contemporary comic touches enlivened Gioachino… Read More