Tag Archives: Esther

From Portland to New York, let ‘Esther’ sing

All right, I know. It’s way past time to get off this Portland Opera kick: Puddletown’s got a lot more fish to fry.


Christophera Mattaliano/Portland Opera

How can I not mention Christopher Mattaliano and his big splash (or rather, his show’s big splash) in the front-page centerpiece of today’s New York Times arts section?

I was surprised to see Mattaliano, Portland Opera’s general director, cruising the lobby Friday night at Keller Auditorium before the opening of the opera’s Orphee. After all, I knew he had his own very important production opening the following night: He’s the stage director for New York City Opera‘s new revival of Hugo Weisgall‘s Esther.

“What are you doing here?” I asked. “Don’t you have an opening tomorrow in New York?”

“Well, I’m done there now,” he replied. “The stage director doesn’t have much to do at this point.”

He seemed pretty casual about the whole thing. But surely he was pleased with the work he’d done. This was a heavy-spotlight show — not just NYCO’s season opener, but also the first production since the company’s return to its refurbished space at Lincoln Center. It was also the first revival of Weisgall’s Esther since its premiere in 1993, also at New York City Opera, and also with Mattaliano as stage director — a homecoming in many ways. And it was a critical production for a prominent company trying to return from the edge of a financial abyss.

But let Anthony Tommasini, the Times’s critic, tell it:

“(With Esther), this essential company, teetering on the brink of extinction not long ago, announced it was back. Not just up and running, but exuding purpose and confidence.”

Tommasini’s review suggests some of the forward thinking that Mattaliano has also brought to his programming for Portland Opera, including Orphee, the rarely produced opera by Philip Glass:

“Christopher Mattaliano, the director of the premiere production, has refurbished that staging, which used filmed images projected on scrims and screens. This revival uses richly detailed video and other innovations.”

For Tommasini’s complete review, click here.