Angela Allen

“Cosi fan Tutte” review: identity crisis

Seattle Opera's production reveals that Mozart's comic opera is about more than sex

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch January 2018

In Seattle Opera’s production of Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte, the stage’s main prop, aside from an inviting pile of mattresses, is a tall mirror. Each character pauses in front of it at some time, checking out his or her current reflection, or identity. The mirror is a throwback symbol in this thoroughly contemporary production, but it says more than a selfie, which catches only a moment and can be edited ad infinitum. Read More

PSU Opera’s ‘Cinderella’: sweet and silly in the salon

University’s production of Pauline Viardot’s operetta is a fairy tale within a play, set to music

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch December 2017

Cinderella is no stranger to the stage. Portland State University’s Cinderella is far from Gioachino Rossini’s 1817 Cenerentola or Jules Massenet’s 1899 version. Neither is it a by-the-book replica of the childhood fairy tale where a pretty downtrodden girl seeks her step-family’s love and that of a prince – and lucks out because the shoe fits! Read More

Christina & Michelle Naughton reviews: sister act

Portland Piano International brought identical twin virtuosos for two recitals, and they delivered performances as polished as their presentation

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch December 2017

I was privileged to hear 30 young virtuosos compete for the prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano prize last summer in Fort Worth, Texas. Ranging from 19 to 30 years old, they played technically difficult, swooningly expressive pieces. Consider Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30 and Antonin Dvořák’s Piano Quintet in A major, Op. 81, two of the most performed during the festival. Read More

Voice in the Wilderness: opera singer Nicholas Meyer

Childhood friends shape new made-in-Oregon opera 'Two Yosemites'

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch September 2017

Nicholas Meyer’s friendship with Justin Ralls began decades before they collaborated on Ralls’s new Two Yosemites opera. The two boys  grew up kicking around the soccer ball in their southeast Portland neighboring ‘hoods of Eastmoreland and Sellwood. They played in the Sellwood Middle School jazz band (Meyer on clarinet, Ralls on drums) and sang in the Cleveland High School award-winning choirs. Read More

Yasko Sato, photo by Jacob Lucas

‘Madame Butterfly’ review: caged dreams

While confronting social and cultural issues, Seattle Opera's new production of Puccini's classic doesn't neglect the music

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch August 2017

Giacomo Puccini’s Madame Butterfly debuted in 1904 and it has been jerking tears ever since. The opera classic remains resilient and fresh when done well, as it is in this Seattle Opera production playing through Aug. 19 at Seattle’s McCaw Hall. Read More

Composer Kati Agócs.

Chamber Music Northwest preview: women’s work

Portland's annual summer classical music festival throws the spotlight on female composers past and present

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch June 2017

Since 1971, Chamber Music Northwest has brought world-class musicians and a deep (mostly) classical repertoire to Portland’s summer-hungry listeners. This year marks the first that women composers take center stage during the five-week festival from June 26 through July 30. Read More

Anat Cohen and Eliane Elias previews: double dose of Brazilian jazz

Two PDXJazz concerts this week showcase fruitful combinations of Brazilian and American music

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch May 2017

Fifty-seven years after the birth of bossa nova, Brazilian music continues to stir up listeners with its danceable rhythms, beguiling melodies, and sweet soft Portuguese lyrics. In less than a week, Portlanders will have the chance to hear radically different styles of buoyant Brazilian jazz from two popular artists. Anat Cohen… Read More

Gerald Clayton preview: family man

Springing from a respected musical legacy, pianist creates his own jazz 'family' atmosphere with his band

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch May 2017

Gerald Clayton says he was a “normal kid” growing up in Los Angeles pursuing ordinary things like soccer, skateboarding, school. What was extraordinary was his family. His father, John Clayton, is a renowned bassist and band leader, and his uncle, Jeff Clayton, a saxophonist supreme. With such blue jazz blood,… Read More

‘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