MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Glass on Galileo

A few years ago I was delighted to find Portland Opera’s young artist program presenting Galileo by Philip Glass and headed down to see the production. Here’s the review I wrote:

Here’s something that happens once in a blue moon in our fair Northwest: a chance to see an opera by an iconic contemporary composer in a production being recorded for said composer’s own label. The icon in question is Philip Glass, whose 2001 chamber opera Galileo Galilei just opened [April 2012] in a brand-new staging by Portland Opera that also represents the work’s West Coast premiere.

Though Galileo confounds expectations in its relatively lightweight approach to the fraught topic of science and religion, the production offers an engaging and often refreshingly poetic entrée into Glass’s special brand of music theater.

Presented as the main annual production showcasing the company’s emerging artists, this actually marks Portland Opera’s second outing with a Philip Glass opera. When PO presented Orphée in 2009 (part of Glass’s “Cocteau trilogy,” in a production imported from Glimmerglass Opera), it inspired hands-on involvement from the composer. The result was memorialized in the company’s first-ever commercial recording. The Galileo release to be edited from PO’s live performances will likewise be the first recording of that opera.

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Filed under: new opera, Philip Glass, Portland Opera

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