PRESS RELEASE: Cult of Orpheus Event at Jade Lounge, Dec. 27

Christopher Corbell performs poetry and art-song with Cult of Orpheus

“Viva’s Holiday” composer premieres new works and highlights local talent

On the heels of his successful three-night, sold-out opera premiere, underground-classical troubadour Christopher Corbell brings a more-intimate act to the Jade Lounge for an evening of poetry and music. The performance will feature several premieres of art-songs composed by Corbell, and will be supported by collaborating musicians and readers.

New art-song premieres

Topping the list of new works to be performed are “Insect Songs,” a set of short pieces for soprano and flute. The text for each song is a haiku (about an insect) by 18th-century Japanese poet Kobayashi Issa, in English translation by Robert Hass. The pieces will be performed by soprano Camelia Nine (soloist with Portland Symphonic Choir) and flutist Liberty Broillet.

Corbell’s ongoing project of original sonnets set to music will continue with the premiere of a new piece, “Kundalini,” for guitar and voice. Other sonnets in the collection will also be recited and performed by the composer. A full-length recording of the cycle is planned for 2016.

The music performance will culminate with a new musical setting of one of Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus, “O dieses ist das Tier,” for baritone, guitar, and cello. Corbell will perform with cellist Betsy Goy, and the duo will also perform “Ein Gott Vermags,” another original setting of Rilke.

The evening will also feature readings by Portland-based poets.

Press Release: Viva’s Holiday now sponsored by Opera Theater Oregon

OCTOBER 26, 2015


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

Stage Positions Available

We are just over two months away from the world premiere of Viva’s Holiday: An Opera in One Act, at the Star Theater in Portland. Rehearsals are beginning and excitement is building!

The production is seeking people to support staging and house operations during the show, which will run Dec. 2, 3, and 4, 2015. The following positions are available:


Stage Manager
Lighting Director
Costume Designer
Make-up Designer
Set Designer
Set Construction
Technical Director / Electrician
Merch booth

If you are interested in this production and have worked in small, limited-budget theater or opera productions before please contact us. It’s going to be a fun and rewarding show.

Send an email to music (at) (link).

Toi toi toi!

Press Release: Viva’s Holiday, an opera based on Magic Gardens memoirs


Event Details:
Viva’s Holiday: An Opera in One Act
with special guest performances
Dec. 2, 3, and 4, 2015, at 9 pm
$20 General Admission • 21 and over
Star Theater, 13 NW 6th Ave, Portland, OR 97209




A Portland stripper goes home for the holidays. Can the family keep her secret from her minister father? Drawn from the memoirs of Portland’s celebrated entertainer and author Viva Las Vegas, this one-act opera explores topics of sex work, family, and self-realization.

[Read more…]

Congratulations to our world premiere cast!


After four different audition dates and dozens of wonderful singers participating we’re thrilled to announce that the stage cast has been selected for the world premiere of Viva’s Holiday:

Helen Funston, soprano, as Viva

Bobby Jackson, bass-baritone, as Dad

Sadie Gregg, mezzo-soprano, as Mom

Matt Storm, tenor, as Brother

This is a fantastic cast to have bringing life to this production! Thanks again to all who auditioned. More details coming soon.

This post has been updated to reflect casting change in the role of Brother.

Cast Auditions for Viva’s Holiday

UPDATE: our two scheduled audition days are now fully booked! Thanks to everyone who has expressed interest. If you are a singer who did not get a chance to audition this time we’d love to stay in touch for future productions – give us a “Like” on the Cult of Orpheus Facebook page to stay in the loop.

Two dates have been set for cast auditions for the premiere of “Viva’s Holiday”, a one-act opera based on Magic Gardens: The Memoirs of Viva Las Vegas.

Auditions will be in Portland, Oregon on Monday, July 20 (evening) and Sunday, July 26 (afternoon).

Performances will be December 2, 3, and 4, 2015, in Portland, with rehearsals beginning in October 2015.

The roles being auditioned are:
Viva, lyric soprano
Dad, bass
Mom, contralto or mezzo-soprano
Brother, tenor or high baritone

To request audition materials and scheduling information, please send an email to music at

To keep up with the latest on the Viva’s Holiday Premiere, RSVP on our Facebook event page.

Final revisions to Viva’s Holiday underway!

On Sunday Nov. 23 some fantastic singers brought the new opera Viva’s Holiday to life for the first time. It was terrific! Such a pleasure and a thrill to hear each scene unfold, the parts sung sometimes with humor and sometimes with sentiment, and along the way discover those passages that still need minor revision for vocal register or score clarification.

Ksenia Popova and Ian José Ramirez workshop the parts of Viva and Brother

Ksenia Popova and Ian José Ramirez workshop the parts of Viva and Brother

Thanks to the great singers who brought their expertise and talent to this workshop. Ksenia Popova sang Viva, Alexander Elliott sang Dad, Hannah Penn sang Mom and Ian José Ramirez sang the part of Brother. Jana Griffin provided piano accompaniment, and the group also sang through much of the piece “karaoke-style” with the computer-rendered chamber-orchestra arrangement.

Jana Hanchett accompanies the singing while Christopher follows the score

Jana Griffin accompanies the singing while Christopher follows the score

Viva’s Holiday is a collaboration between Cult of Orpheus producer/composer Christopher Corbell and Portland author/entertainer Viva Las Vegas . The libretto is based on material from Viva’s auto-biographical Magic Gardens: The Memoirs of Viva Las Vegas. The forty-five-minute, one-act opera for four singers and chamber orchestra explores attitudes toward sex work and family dynamics that unfold as Viva visits her family home in Duluth, Minnesota for the holidays, after becoming a stripper in Portland.