Opera program brings music history to life with ‘Die Fledermaus’

Die Fledermaus, an operetta composed by Johann Strauss, is about a sophisticated masked ball hosted by a Russian prince. The opera is enjoying a run of seven shows (including a matinee) from April 22 to May 1 in the Lincoln Performance Hall.

Christine Meadows is the production manager and has played a part in the Portland State Opera program for 10 years. She is excited for Die Fledermaus to commence and for the audience to get a glimpse into the workings of Strauss. “[I think this is] one of the greatest operettas ever written,” Meadows said. “It’s based on a lot of dance forms. It’s very lively.”

Full opera productions have been performed at PSU for the last 45 years. PSU is also one of the only schools on the West Coast to host a full production with an orchestra every year.

Meadows chose this year’s production, and she is confident it will be a hit. “The music is very frothy. It’s funny, a romantic comedy…great singing and staging,” Meadows said. She tries to choose something different for every year. “I’m trying to cycle through different languages and periods.”

Meadows always keeps the students in mind, as she wants them to have a well-rounded opera college experience.

“[I want] our students to have a chance to learn the different styles musically,” Meadows said. “The different styles of singing that they have to be able to do, and singing in different languages.” The most important aspect, however, is making sure that she chooses the best one to encompass the voices of her singers.

The writer of the opera, Johann Strauss, was known as the Waltz King because he wrote this opera back when the waltz was a very popular dance. This is one of the challenges that the students faced. “We have all come a long way. There is a big party scene where there is quite a bit of waltzing.”

Opera student Darian Hutchinson, who plays Gabriel von Eisenstein in the performance, is also excited for Die Fledermaus. He says it’s the most fun opera he’s ever been in. “Act two in this opera is a big party scene. Being on stage with all your friends and peers, and just having fun has been a really great time.”

For anyone who might be interested in joining the opera program, Hutchinson offers some advice. “First, I would find someone who has been in an opera before and who could show you some operas to watch that would be fun and engaging and get you excited,” Hutchinson said. “I would also find a voice teacher who could transition you in that direction.”

Meadows is expecting about 2,500 people to attend Die Fledermaus, and is thankful that the Portland community is so supportive of the opera program.

Tickets are $30 general, $25 seniors, and $17 for students. Upcoming performances are scheduled for April 29, April 30 and May 1.