November 3rd, 2009 | by BRETT CAMPBELL News | Posted In: CLEAN UP

Portland Opera Scores Philip Glass Record



The contracts aren't yet signed, and the legal beagles have yet to complete their sniffing and gnawing, but it seems highly probable that Portland Opera is about to make its first-ever recording -- and it's a big one. At an interview this morning, Opera spokeswoman Julia Sheridan and composer Philip Glass announced plans for Glass's record label, Orange Mountain Music, to release the first recording of Glass's 1993 opera Orphée, which the Opera is staging this weekend and next. The record company will use recordings of all four Opera performances to create the CD, which will be released (if all goes as hoped) sometime next year. Glass is almost inconceivably prolific, cranking out more music over a forty plus year career than just about any composer since Georg Philip Telemann a quarter millennium ago, and Orange Mountain was essentially created to preserve and disseminate the vast and still growing backlog of his music for films, operas, dance, theater works, and concerts. So a new Glass recording is hardly a rarity -- the 72-year-old composer produces enough material from his New York studio for a dozen CDs (at least) every year. In fact, the opera provided him with a piano to use in composing during the few breaks he had while on his short stay in Portland. But for a relatively small regional opera company to make the first recording of a major opera by one of the 20th and 21st century's greatest composers — probably the world's best known living “classical” composer— is indeed a major Portland event, and a vindication of sorts for the company's bold (and, in a recession, potentially risky) strategy of staging contemporary and other atypically adventurous music in a conservative genre whose main supporters tend to require vapors when confronted with anything but one of the endlessly repeated 19th-century warhorses. Apparently, Portland audiences have more intrepid ears. Glass said that an Austrian conductor was also interested in recording the score, but had dawdled, and once Glass heard Portland Opera's rehearsal (using both company singers and performers, sets and stage director from the acclaimed 2007 Glimmerglass Opera re-staging of Orphée) last night, he said "this is the recording.” “It's a beautiful company and beautiful conductor,” Glass said. “It's going to be a very very nice recording.”
 
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