Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Portland Opera Announces 2020/21 Season

Portland Opera Announces 2020/21 Season

Portland Opera has announced programming for the 2020/21 season, which will open on September 11, 2020. The season will launch in the fall with Robert Xavier Rodríguez's Frida, starring soprano Catalina Cuervo in the title role. This will be followed by the company's fall classic opera, Puccini's enduring drama Tosca, in October and November. The season will continue with a double bill of two pieces honoring the lives of Jewish victims of the Holocaust-Grigori Frid's The Diary of Anne Frank and Jake Heggie's For a Look or a Touch-in early 2021. On March 13, the company will present its annual Big Night concert at the Keller Auditorium. The season will close with Giuseppe Verdi's tour de force opera, Il Trovatore, starring Italian soprano Selene Zanetti in her U.S. debut.

"We are thrilled to announce the lineup of our 2020/21 season and the triumphant return of opera to Portland's beautiful rainy months," says general director Sue Dixon. "This past year has been one of reflection and listening. As a result, our 2020/21 season is crafted based on audience feedback: we're going big and intimate, telling stories that reflect our community, and collaborating with organizations around the region. We couldn't be more excited to share this season with everyone."

The season begins with a celebration of one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. Frida is vibrant, colorful, and infused with artistic imagery-all brought to life by the beautiful music of Mexican American composer Robert Xavier Rodríguez. The libretto, which follows moments from Mexican painter Frida Kahlo's life, features lyrics and monologues written by award-winning playwright Migdalia Cruz, and a book by Hilary Blecher. Before and during the run (June 13, 2020 through September 27, 2020), the Portland Art Museum's exhibit Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism will be on display. In addition, on October 3, 2020, Portland Opera will host a special concert performance of Frida with Catalina Cuervo, as part of a community celebration and open house event at Portland Opera's Hampton Opera Center.

The 2020 fall classic opera will bring Puccini's masterpiece Tosca back to the Keller Auditorium stage during the presidential election in November. A political tale of power dynamics, attempted rape, torture, and violence, this passionate and unstoppable drama tells the story of Tosca, a renowned diva in Rome in 1800. The opera features some of the world's most beloved arias including "Vissi d'arte," "E lucevan le stelle," and "Recondita armonia," and will feature Alexandra LoBianco in the title role, a role she will also sing at Lyric Opera of Chicago next season.

In January and February 2021, Portland Opera will present a double bill of Grigori Frid's The Diary of Anne Frank and Jake Heggie's For a Look or a Touch. In The Diary of Anne Frank, days in the life of thirteen-year-old Anne unfold, sung from text selected from her diary, as her family goes into hiding in Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation. For a Look or a Touch is a love story threatened by the persecution of gay men during the Holocaust, with text based on historic records, including the journal of Manfred Lewin before his murder at Auschwitz-Birkenau. During the run, Portland Opera will honor the UN's International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, which takes place annually on January 27. The date also commemorates when the Soviet troops liberated the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland on January 27, 1945.

In March, the company brings back its annual Big Night concert. Portland Opera's chorus and orchestra, under the baton of music director George Manahan, are joined by international guest soloists and the Portland Opera Resident Artists for an evening of beautiful music, celebrating the art form with some of its most beloved tunes.

Portland Opera will close the 2020/21 season with Verdi's unrelenting story of vengeance, love, and betrayal, Il Trovatore. This marks the company's first production of the piece since 2002. Portland Opera music director George Manahan conducts the performances, which feature Italian soprano Selene Zanetti in her U.S. debut as the tortured heroine, Leonora. In a newly envisioned format, Portland Opera puts the intensity of the music and the dexterity of artists' voices at the heart of the experience-utilizing projection design and minimalism on stage to expose the pure drama at the core of Verdi's work. At once timeless and modern, this nod to a traditional opera staging technique of the early 17th century is updated with today's technology-resulting in potent and pure operatic intensity.

During the 2020/21 season, the company will also continue its commitment to education and community engagement. Portland Opera To Go, a program that travels to schools and community centers throughout the region with 50-minute, English-language adaptations of popular operas, will present Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel. 2020-21 Portland Opera Resident Artists will be announced in the coming months, along with additional information about Opera a la Cart and the Resident Artist Series.

"We have so many reasons to love Il Trovatore. Giuseppe Verdi's mid-19th century opera that soars over the top with a story of vengeance, vendettas, and violence. The melody after melody of grand and lyrical music is the primary reason this Italian masterpiece finds a niche in the hearts of opera fans." - Angela Allen, The Columbian

Portland Opera Music Director George Manahan conducts the performances, which feature the Portland Opera chorus and orchestra, as well as principal singers: Italian soprano Selene Zanetti in her U.S. debut as the tortured heroine Leonora, Armenian tenor Hovhannes Ayvazyan in his Portland Opera debut as the troubadour Manrico, former Portland Opera Resident Artist Daryl Freedman as the grief-struck Azucena, baritone Weston Hurt, last seen at Portland Opera as Germont in Verdi's La Traviata, as the Count di Luna, and Chinese bass Wei Wu in his Portland Opera debut as the captain Ferrando. Fenlon Lamb and Greg Emetaz will make their Portland Opera debuts as stage director and video designer.

Tickets and Information

Subscriptions for the 2020/21 season are on sale now. Single tickets for the remainder of the season will go on sale on May 9, 2020. For more information, and to purchase tickets visit, call Patron Services at 503-241-1802, or visit in person at the Hampton Opera Center, located at 211 SE Caruthers Street in Portland, Oregon. Patron Services hours are Monday through Friday, 10 AM - 5 PM. Portland Opera offers complimentary concierge services for all patrons. You can e-mail for information about parking, attire, dining recommendations, and more.

This season, Portland Opera productions are sung in English, Italian, and Spanish, with captions. Evening performances begin at 7:30 PM, and matinee performances begin at 2 PM. Late seating and reentry are not permitted.

They are proud to be able to offer many ways for community members to experience Portland Opera. A limited number of $5 tickets for Oregon Trail Card holders are available for operas at the Keller Auditorium and Newmark Theatre. These tickets can be purchased two weeks prior to each performance. We also offer a limited amount of free tickets to Multnomah County Library cardholders through the library's My Discovery Pass program. Visit for more information.

Student tickets are $10 and are made available for every performance. Student tickets can be purchased up to two weeks prior to each performance. We are proud to also work with the Veteran Tickets Foundation ( to share event tickets with U.S. Armed Forces personnel, veterans, and their families.

Portland Opera offers wheelchair accessible and companion seating for every performance throughout the season and offers assisted listening devices for productions at the Newmark Theatre and Keller Auditorium. Designated performances also include a live audio description of the visual and physical events onstage for patrons who are blind or have low vision. For patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing, each performance includes live captions projected above the stage. Please contact Patron Services for additional information.

Portland Opera appreciates the ongoing support of funders including the National Endowment for the Arts, Oregon Arts Commission, James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, Meyer Memorial Trust, and the Regional Arts & Culture Council, including support from the City of Portland, Multnomah County, and the Arts Education & Access Fund.

Featured on Stage Door

Shoutouts, Classes, and More from Your Favorite Broadway Stars

Related Articles View More Opera Stories

More Hot Stories For You