Angela Allen

‘Tosca’ review: Gorgeous singing, warhorse tale at Portland Opera

The singing's terrific and the crowd shouted "Bravo!" But the story in Puccini's 1900 hit can't keep up with 21st century times.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch November 2021

Portland Opera’s Tosca, which opened Oct. 29 in the Keller Auditorium with many of its 3,000 seats empty, possesses the makings of grand opera, including a stellar cast and creative team, many of whom were making their PO debuts. Added to that are opulent sets and costumes, moody lighting, and of course, Giacomo Puccini’s irresistibly sweeping melodic music.  Read More

Diving into the moment of creation: Priti Gandhi and Damien Geter lead Portland Opera out of Covid and into a new season

The opera opens with a new artistic director, a new interim music director, a fresh slate of forward-looking priorities – and an old standby in "Tosca."

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch October 2021

A newly shaped inclusive mission, a new artistic director and newer music director, and a familiar 1900 Giacomo Puccini opera will open Portland Opera’s 2021-22 season on Oct. 29. Read More

Review: Center Stage’s fine fit of Fridamania

Vanessa Severo's virtuoso turn onstage joins a rush of Kahlo from the opera to a coming museum show.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch October 2021

In Portland’s tsunami of Fridamania, Frida … A Self Portrait is on a path to stirring up waves. 

In June, Portland Opera staged Frida, a 95-minute production to sold-out audiences at the Jordan Schnitzer open-air stage. The Portland Art Museum’s exhibit Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism will run Feb. 19-June 5 next year. Read More

Staging ‘Blue’: Contemporary opera at Michigan Opera Theatre

New work by Tazewell Thompson and Jeanine Tesori reflects Black experience in America

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch September 2021

When a new opera is performed in an amphitheater, big ideas are in store. Such a space signals a spectacle. It reaches out to ordinary people — a lot of them. That’s what the Romans intended in 29 B.C. when they built their first amphitheater.

That is partly what Detroit’s Michigan Opera Theatre creatives had in mind by staging Blue—named the  Best New Opera of 2020 by the Music Critics Association of North America—on Sept. 11 and 12 in Detroit’s 6,000-seat Aretha Franklin Amphitheatre.  Read More

Man of Many Octaves

Not Bass, Not Baritone, Davóne Tines Revels In A Register All His Own

Originally Published in Classical Voice North America August 2021

PROFILE – Davóne Tines was a freshman at Fauquier High School in Warrenton, Va., when his grandfather, a retired Navy captain and choir director, was joking around with him, exaggerating opera-like syllables. Tines responded in operatic style, and his granddad said, as Tines remembers it, “Well, I think you have a voice.” Read More

“If the center is the human soul”: an interview with Osvaldo Golijov

Angela Allen talks with the Willamette Valley Chamber Music Festival's multifaceted resident composer.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch August 2021

Osvaldo Golijov is a spare man with a robust repertoire in the contemporary classical-music world. He has written an opera, a Mass, movie scores, song cycles, symphonic music, and lots of chamber music. Though his composing tastes are diverse and far-flung, the Argentine-born composer says that his “spiritual home is chamber music, especially string music.” Read More

Chamber Music, Mighty Wines

A harmonious match for the senses

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch August 2022

For safety’s sake, live concert audiences in Oregon wine country are limited — cut in half from their usual number of barrel- and tasting-room concertgoers. Partly for that reason, and partly because the intimate series combining wine with music played by spectacular mostly local musicians has proved so successful, live concerts are sold out, though there is a waitlist. Read More

Chamber of Musical Delights

From world premieres to brilliant performances, highlights of July's Chamber Music Northwest Festival.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch July 2021

Chamber Music Northwest was the first major Portland arts group to go live indoors since the pandemic with its Reflect/Rejoice summer festival June 28 to July 25 at Reed College’s Kaul Auditorium.

And boy, did its month of live music— not to mention its streamed concerts continuing through Aug. 31 at CMNW’s At-HOME Summer Festival — make a splash, even if the live audience was vastly reduced from former festivals. Read More

CMNW: Kenji Bunch takes flight

The new "Vesper Flight" is inspired by the soar of Vaux swifts, who alight in Portland every year.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch July 2021

Reasons abound to feel at home with Kenji Bunch’s high-flying new work, Vesper Flight for Flute and Piano, that premiered July 10 and July 11 to a rapt Chamber Music Northwest audience at Reed College’s Kaul Auditorium. Read More

At CMNW, an ever-flowing ‘Spring’

The chamber music festival's brilliant version of "Appalachian Spring" will also be available to view from home.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch July 2021

Orchestra maestro Leonard Slatkin tells a story about Appalachian Spring and its composer Aaron Copland, who was deep in the throes of Alzheimer’s in 1987. Read More