Star Search: Previewing Portland’s Upcoming Arts Season

From opera to Artists’ Rep, we pick five just-announced shows that could make—or break—Portland’s 2015/16 performing arts scene.

By Ramona DeNies and Fiona McCann March 19, 2015

Tiempo Libre, who'll be performing in Artists Rep's Cuban-American musical Cuba Libre as part of their 2015/2016 season. Photo courtesy of Artists Rep.

Look ahead Portland! All manner of endeavors are in the works already for the next season of artistic offerings, and a number of the city’s biggest companies have already announced their 2015/16 lineups. We perused the programs and selected our must-sees for next season. Whet your appetites in advance on the bites below.


The Line-Up (Highlights): Handel’s Messiah; Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto; Holst’s The Planets; Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 (‘Eroica’); Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 27; David Schiff’s Infernal; Colin Currie; Lang Lang; Pablo Villegas; The Sinatra Century

The Pick: The Oregon Symphony’s new Artist in Residence Colin Currie will be performing his percussionist wizardry onstage as part of this year’s Symphony season, while also involving himself with some of the Symphony’s community outreach projects. The Scottish musician comes with serious international chops: He’s Artist-in-Association with London’s Southbank Centre, head of the Colin Currie Group and has played with orchestras all over the world—from Sao Paolo to Nagoya. If that’s not incentive enough to draw you to one of his athletic performances, he has also been known to use his own body as a percussion instrument among the myriad he employs to perform and teach.  


Portland Opera

Jennifer Forni, who plays Tatyana in Portland Opera's Eugene Onegin

The Line-Up: 
The Magic Flute; Sweeney Todd; Eugene Onegin; The Italian Girl in Algiers

The Pick: In July 2016, Portland Opera launches its first rotating repertory experience: alternating nights of, in this case, appropriately balmy love stories. Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin (the “La Boheme of Russia”) is part one of this one-two opera punch; the night following each Onegin performance, catch The Italian Girl in Algiers, billed as Rossini’s wildest comedy. Opposites apparently do attract, in this formula that Portland Opera claims has proved an “intense delight” for audiences from Glyndebourne to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.


The Line-Up: 
Our Town; Sex with Strangers; Ain’t Misbehavin'; The Santaland Diaries; Twist Your Dickens; Great Expectations; Forever; Each and Every Thing; Stupid Fucking Bird; The Pianist of Willesden Lane; A Streetcar Named Desire

The Pick: If you caught The Real Americans here back in 2011, you won’t need much convincing to attend award-winning actor and playwright Dan Hoyle’s newest solo endeavor. Coming to Portland Center Stage in February, Each and Every Thing is about how we experience the world–and each other–in the digital age. Hoyle embodies a host of characters from across the country to reveal the struggle for community and connection in a hyper-connected world, and imbues them with a humanity alongside the sometimes side-splitting humor. Performance or polemic, however it strikes its smartphone-toting Portland audience, Each and Every Thing is an invitation to disconnect from our devices and reconnect with each other, IRL. Get ready to power down. 


The Line-Up: 
Amore Italiano; George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker; 
Romeo & Juliet; Beautiful Decay

The Pick: Classicists will be flocking to Romeo and Juliet, but we’ve got our hearts set on Nicolo Fonte’s Beautiful Decay, which closes the ballet’s 2015/16 season. Portland dance legends Susan Banyas and Gregg Bielemeier, both with careers spanning five decades, will join OBT artists in this haunting meditation on youth and age. 


The Pick: With the world premiere musical Cuba Libre, Artistic Director Dámaso Rodriguez, two years into his role at the helm of Artists Rep, continues his project of expanding the company’s stated remit as a catalyst for new work. Cuba Libre, from the sound of it, will be ambitious, with 21 performers backed by Grammy-nominated Cuban band Tiempo Libre. Also in the mix: actor and playwright Carlos Lacámara, an Artists Rep vet of last season’s Exiles.

The Line-Up  
The Understudy; Cuba Libre;
Broomstick; The Miracle Worker; Mothers & Sons; We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as South West Africa, From the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1884–1915Grand ConcourseThe Skin of Our Teeth

Artists Rep Artistic Director Dámaso Rodriguez


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