Portland Opera Presents West Coast Premiere of New Production of Gounod’s Faust

Inspired by the work of American artist John Frame, this new production integrates sculpture, 3D projections, and evocative sets and costumesinto this timeless legend

by Sebastian Fortino
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Portland Opera Presents West Coast Premiere of New Production of Gounod’s FaustInspired by the work of American artist John Frame, this new production integrates sculpture, 3D projections, and evocative sets and costumes into this timeless legend.

Opening on June 8, Portland Opera will present the West Coast premiere of a groundbreaking new production of Gounod’s Faust. American visual artist John Frame, who exhibited at the Portland Art Museum in 2012, designs this new take on Goethe’s classic tale of making a pact with the devil in exchange for youth. Frame’s remarkable creative vision comes to life on stage through a technical and artistic collaboration, directed by Kevin Newbury, that integrates Frame’s vision with sets and costumes designed by Victoria “Vita” Tzykun, cutting-edge 3D projection mapping technology designed by David Adam Moore and lighting design by Duane Schuler. This new production of Faust is a co-production with Lyric Opera of Chicago. Portland Opera will present four performances of Faust on June 8, 10 (matinee), 14, and 16 at the Keller Auditorium.

“This is one of the most unique and exciting projects I’ve ever worked on,” says General Director Christopher Mattaliano. “From the moment I saw Frame’s exhibition in 2012, I was struck by the eerie beauty and inherent theatricality of his work and am thrilled that we are bringing his art to the stage for the very first time with this production.”

“My biggest attraction to [Faust] was that it deals with fundamental human questions, something I’ve tried to deal with in my own work from the very beginning,” says John Frame. “I’m really interested in the oldest human questions: Where do I come from? What am I supposed to do while I’m here? What’s my relationship to nature? All of those questions are things that I hope live at the center of my own content. And in Faust, the fundamental question is: What if I get to a point in my life where I feel like I’m wasting my life, like I’ve done it wrong?”

Portland Opera Music Director George Manahan leads a cast that stars Jonathan Boyd, who was most recently seen with the company in 2015 The Rake’s Progress, as the title character. Soprano Angel Blue, who made her Metropolitan Opera debut this season to widespread acclaim, makes her company debut as Marguerite. Alfred Walker, whose 2017/18 season included performances with the Metropolitan Opera, Seattle Opera, and San Francisco Opera,

makes his Portland Opera debut as Méphistophélès, and Edward Parks, whose recent credits include the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Santa Fe Opera, makes his debut with the company as Valentin. Portland Opera Resident Artists Shi Li and Kate Farrar perform the roles of Wagner and Siébel. Local mezzo-soprano Angela Niederloh performs the role of Marthe.

This production of Faust is made possible by Visionary Sponsors Dorothy Piacentini, The Carol Franc Buck Foundation, and Gregory K. and Mary Chomenko Hinckley. Production Sponsors for Faust are The Boeing Company, Harold and Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation, The McGeady Family Foundation, The Oregonian/Oregon Live, Pat and Trudy Ritz and the Ritz Family Foundation, and Utopia Vineyard. Portland Opera appreciates the ongoing support of funders including The Collins Foundation, Meyer Memorial Trust, Oregon Arts Commission, Work for Art, the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, and The Regional Arts & Culture Council, including support from the City of Portland, Multnomah County, and the Arts Education & Access Fund.

Fun Facts

Portland Opera performed Faust for the first time in 1966 and has since programmed the opera in 1979, 1989, 1999, and 2006. Famed tenor Marcello Giordani made his American debut at the Portland Opera in 1988 and returned to the sing the role of Faust in the company’s 1989 production.

Although the premiere of the opera in 1859 in Paris, was not an immediate success, the opera went on to become one of the most popular opera of the 20th century.

Gounod’s opera is one of many interpretations of the Faust tale in art and culture. Other operatic adaptations include Hector Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust (1846), Arrigo Boito’s Mefistofele(1868), and Igor Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress (1951).

Tickets and Information

Performances take place at 7:30PM at the Keller Auditorium, with the exception of the matinee on June 10, which begins at 2:00 PM. One hour prior to each performance, audience members are invited to an informal introduction to the opera on the first balcony of the Keller Auditorium.

Faust will be sung in French with projected English translations.

Portland Opera is a proud participant in Arts for All—providing $5 tickets for Oregon Trail Card holders.

A limited number of rush tickets (for seniors, students, and United States Armed Forces personnel and their families) are available for performances of Faust. Student rush tickets are available online on the Monday before the performances. Call 503-241-1802 for more information.

The performance on June 10 at 2pm will include an audio description of the visual and physical events on stage for patrons who are blind or have low vision. For patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing, each performance is visually translated with English text projected above the stage.

Tickets for Faust are now available, starting at $35. For more information, and to purchase tickets visit Portland Opera or call Patron Services at 503-241-1802. For more information, patrons may also contact the Opera Concierge at concierge@portlandopera.org.