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Cult of Orpheus will be presenting a program of new vocal music at 7:30 pm on Nov. 28 at The Old Church Concert Hall in Portland.
The program will feature a new work for vocal quartet and string quartet (a setting of the classic text of Hermetic mysticism, The Emerald Tablet), excerpts from an opera in progress, and selected original art-songs.
The performance will feature a baritone, tenor, mezzo-soprano, and soprano.
We are also looking for a variety of chamber instruments (string quartet, winds, and percussion).
If you are interested, please send a message to Christopher via music (at) cultoforpheus.org.
Event info and details will be updated frequently on our Facebook event page.
As we head into our final four shows of 2016, the makers of Portland’s most user-friendly opera have come up with this list of Frequently Asked Questions.
VIVA’S HOLIDAY FAQ
1. Is this a real opera? – YES!
2. Is there a real orchestra? – YES!
3. Is it in English? – YES!
4. Is the singing amazing? – YES!
5. Is it kind of like classical, holiday music? – YES, but BETTER, and ORIGINAL!
6. Is it a story I can relate to? – YES!
7. Does it make people laugh? – YES!
8. Does it make people cry? – YES!
9. Is it more Portland than a Russian ballet? – YES!
10. Is comedian Wendy Weiss really doing an opening set? – YES!
12. Is author Viva Las Vegas reading from her book before the opera? – YES!
12. Can I buy alcohol and food and have it during the show? – YES, and YES!
13. Does it cost less than the $30 to $55 that other holiday shows are charging? – YES!
14. Is there nudity that is brief, expressive, and dramatically necessary? – YES!
15. Will I leave the theater wishing I could listen to this opera again? – YES!
16. Can I buy tickets by clicking on a link below? – YES!
Cheat-sheet: the answer to all these questions is YES! 😉
Wed. Dec. 14: http://tinyurl.com/viva-2016-Dec-14
Thurs. Dec. 15: http://tinyurl.com/viva-2016-Dec-15
Fri. Dec. 16: http://tinyurl.com/viva-2016-Dec-16
Sat. Dec. 17: http://tinyurl.com/viva-2016-Dec-17
Summary for event calendars:
Viva’s Holiday: An Opera in One Act
Star Theater Portland • 13 NW 6th Ave
December 7, 8, 14, 15, 16, 17
9 pm • 21+
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 8, 2016
VIVA’S HOLIDAY, A NEW PORTLAND FAVORITE, PLAYS SIX NIGHTS IN DECEMBER
Second annual performance also features author Viva Las Vegas, comedian Wendy Weiss
This season an original opera about a stripper going home for Christmas returns to the Star Theater, where it promises to become a new Portland holiday tradition.
It is rare for an original opera to aim beyond circles of elite afficionados and connect with a city, a time, an underground. Viva’s Holiday: An Opera in One Act proved to be such a work in its 2015 premiere. Inspired by the memoirs of Portland stripper/author Viva Las Vegas (Liv Osthus), it is a lyrical story about a young woman on an unconventional path testing the limits of family acceptance during a holiday visit. A classically-informed score exhibits charming motivity, intertwined with irreverent humor and poignant searching for the meaning of “home.” The opera runs 50 minutes and is written for four singers and a twelve-piece chamber orchestra.
The 2016 production is in response to fans who called for the work to be a part of Portland’s annual roster of holiday shows, following a three-night run of full houses last year. Unlike familiar Nutcracker reboots and endless Dickens adaptations, this is a story rooted in our city’s recent history and reaching toward a meaning that reflects our time. And unlike other common underground offerings which rely on canned or covered songs from elsewhere, the original music and poetry is intended to be Portland’s own cultural capital — part of composer Christopher Corbell’s quest to establish new underground opera in the Rose City as our weird, poetic, insurgent answer to Broadway’s glitz and self-importance.
This year’s production again employs stage director Pat Janowski (Post5 Theater et al) and music director Erica Melton (Opera Theater Oregon). A more seasoned orchestra backs a returning cast, with the exception of the Brother role which will be sung this year by tenor Aaron Lange. Soprano Helen Funston will again bring her versatile musicianship to the role of Viva, with mezzo Sadie Gregg returning in the role of Mom and baritone Bobby Jackson singing Dad.
The performances at Portland’s Star Theater will include an opening set, hosted by stripper / comedian Wendy Weiss. Viva Las Vegas will read excerpts from her memoirs and also perform vocal music with the “sixteenth-century sex-pop” group Bergerette. Each evening will open with an aesthetic pole dance accompanied by a live string quartet; Weiss has recruited a roster of eminent strippers from the current Portland scene who will make alternating appearances.
Electronic Press Kit
Audio excerpts, press quotes, and more information about the opera is online at
Higher-resolution poster image, production headshots, and photos from last year’s performance are also available on request.
Cult of Orpheus needs devoted volunteers to help create a cultural movement around underground opera.
We are building crazy cool original works that involve community and utilize the craft of lyrical, poetic music creation to the utmost. We are Portland’s only all-original art song and opera company.
We want underground, original opera to be Portland’s answer to Broadway. It’s our weird but reverent hijacking of one of the most aristocratic art forms, gleefully re-purposed for the people, leveraging all the amazing vocal, musical, and theatrical talent we have in this city.
Do you want to volunteer? Sign up to work our upcoming concert at The Old Church on August 17 and you’ll get your foot in the door! (And free admission, of course!) Just send us an email and become a part of this scrappy camerata.
Also: we want to forge stronger connections to other groups! If you consider your group part of the opera underground please get in touch, let’s share resources and knowledge. Let’s make Portland the underground opera capital!
– Christopher Corbell
Cult of Orpheus • underground opera
CALL FOR STORIES FROM PORTLAND AUTHORS
fiction • memoir • dramatic scenes • published or unpublished
comic, poignant, weird, etc. • excerpts/abridgements okay
Cult of Orpheus, creator of Viva’s Holiday, is creating a new production in 2017 in collaboration with local authors.
This operatic “anthology” will feature three to five stories adapted as original micro-operas, performed in a non-traditional space. Story authors retain rights, own part of opera publishing (as co-librettist), & consult on libretto adaptation. There will be a modest performance royalty awarded, plus book sales and audience-building opportunities at each opera performance.
• up to 3 pieces from a single author will be considered
• please select specific short pieces (we don’t have time to read entire collections!)
• stories must have character interaction and dialog; 2 to 4 characters
• preferred: stories with a key dramatic moment and/or strong character interactions
• story, excerpt, or abridgement should be readable out loud in 7 minutes or less
• UPDATE: call is extended through September 30, 2016
To have your work(s) considered, or to nominate any local author’s story, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Call for stories”.
In the email, include your name and contact information, and for each piece to be considered, include:
- brief summary (< 100 words)
- publication details (either “unpublished”, or where it has been published)
- attachment of full text or excerpt as .txt, .rtf, .pdf, or .docx file (use separate files for multiple works)
This call for stories will remain open through September 30, 2016. Please share with your literary friends and communities!
Sign up for the mailing list (see the sidebar! ->) to get these updates delivered to your email inbox.
This month features a number of performances (also listed on the Upcoming Events page). There are also some new recorded excerpts of the Viva Opera online, and the Art Songs and Sonnets sections of the website have more samples and lyrics.
Excerpts from the opera are included, as well as some snippets from Bergerette’s recent recordings of the two Baudelaire song settings.
You can buy tickets or follow the Facebook event at vivas-holiday.com.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OCTOBER 26, 2015
VIVA’S HOLIDAY OPERA PREMIERE: NOW SPONSORED BY OPERA THEATER OREGON
Independent opera non-profit partners with composer-produced “Magic Gardens” opera project
Viva’s Holiday, the most exciting opera premiere of the season, is a one-act opera that relates a story of a Portland stripper going home to visit her family for the holidays. Based on Magic Gardens: The Memoirs of Viva Las Vegas, the story combines a local underground heroine’s experiences with lyrical vocal writing and a twelve-piece orchestra. The opera is being produced by Cult of Orpheus, the music production vehicle of composer Christopher Corbell.
Opera Theater Oregon, a Portland-based 501(c)3 organization, has been a champion of alternative opera for a decade in Portland, producing everything from pop-culture/opera mash-ups (like Baywatch/Das Rheingold) to live-opera-with-film performances to magical productions in creative environments (The Cunning Little Vixen at Wild Goose Farm).
Opera Theater Oregon (OTO) has agreed to act as fiscal sponsor for the Viva’s Holiday premiere. The sponsorship arrangement permits arts donors to contribute to OTO to support the project, which furthers the non-profit’s mission of making opera relevant to new audiences. The partnership will focus on a special fundraising gala dinner at Basta Trattoria on Tuesday Nov. 3 and will continue with online fundraising efforts.
OTO Artistic director Katie Taylor had this to say of the partnership:
I’m really excited! It’s the first time OTO’s tried anything like this. Our current reboot is partly about figuring out the best way to involve like-minded people in the work of the company — ‘Viva’ is right up our alley.
Producer / Composer Christopher Corbell, who has also been an OTO supporter and volunteer, hopes the sponsorship can be a model for future projects:
I believe a vibrant independent opera scene is emerging in Portland, and that’s due in large measure to the groundwork that OTO has done for ten years by developing local talent, building audiences, and experimenting. I’m thrilled that OTO is partnering with us for this production, which includes singers who have worked with OTO and also includes outstanding OTO Music Director Erica Melton. I hope that our sponsorship agreement and fundraising effort can be a pilot for similar arrangements in the future between OTO and other independent opera producers in the community.
More information on Viva’s Holiday is also available in the online press release and media kit at:
A limited number tickets are still available to the Nov. 3 gala fundraising dinner:
More information on Opera Theater Oregon can be found online at