A few weeks ago one of the staff members at the Hoffman Academy asked me if I was available to shoot some photos for the first official event for her new group The Divergent Opera Theater. I know nothing about opera but I jumped at the chance when she explained the mission statement of her new theater company. The concept is to try and redefine what opera is by taking it out of the stuffy music halls into more casual settings. Their first show was called "The Last Lousy Moments of love" and took place at the community center TaborSpace here in Portland.
The gathering started out as a cocktail party slash fundraiser, with nibbles and wine provided by Nosh & Swill. A silent auction for paintings was set up to earn money for the Disability Art and Culture Project (who also provided some lovely dancers during the performance). A piano soloist filled the room with music and once the evening was in full swing the opera singers, who were mingling with the crowd in character, began their improvised performance. One by one they moved toward the front of the room and began to sing about their past loves, and in doing so told the familar story of a group of friends who bond over glasses of wine and nostalgia. The music was compelling and surprisingly identifiable. I've seen productions that try to pull off this style of an integrated performance in a social space and it doesn't always go off so well. Usually the guests are so into their conversations that they don't notice the performers. Not this time though, all eyes and ears were on the performers.