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Portland, OR (The Fall of the House of Usher)
August 28, 2022
Based on the story by Edgar Allan Poe
Libretto by Arthur Yorinks
August 25 – 28
85 minutes with no intermission.
Performed at Lincoln Hall
Mature subject matter.
“. . . Despite the bloodlessness of the protagonists, this is a full-bodied opera that carries a wallop . . . aggressively adapts the original to the demands of the stage.”
– Myron Meise, The Hollywood Reporter
When a man visits his ill childhood friend Roderick Usher after many years apart, he is shaken to his core by the foreboding atmosphere and sense of evil that pervades the household and its inhabitants. His attempts to understand and address the literal and figurative “illness” that permeates Usher’s house fail at every turn, and he is unable to deter Usher, his sister Madeline, and the house itself from their swift descent into the abyss. The hauntingly beautiful and strange music of Philip Glass perfectly captures every nuance and inner nerve of this of powerful story by Edgar Allan Poe.
Roderick Usher: Martin Bakari
William: Timothy McDevitt
Madeline Usher: Hannah Cosenz
Servant: Gregory Brumfield
Physician: Scot Crandal
Conductor: Michelle Rofrano
Director: Kevin Newbury
Set Design: Daniel Meeker
Costume Design: Alison Heryer
Lighting Design: Connie Yun
Video Design: Greg Emetaz
From the Artistic Director, Christopher Mattaliano
That which is unspoken in Poe’s work is what makes it so powerful and thrilling, especially in this story. The character and plot details that remain undefined become so engrossing, strange, and unbearably suspenseful. Glass is the perfect composer to capture the inner world of Poe. His music – riveting and hauntingly beautiful – captures the powerful, claustrophobic atmosphere that eventually overwhelms the characters. This is the fourth Glass opera that I’ve produced in Portland. The Fall of the House of Usher has been on my “short list” for many years. I feel it’s one of his greatest works and am thrilled to finally present it.
From the Stage Director, Kevin Newbury
Edgar Allen Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher is a timeless psychological thriller about the intersection of shame, madness, and imagination. In our new production of Philip Glass’ 1988 opera of the same name, the action takes place in Palm Springs, CA in the summer of 1969. When two boyhood friends reconnect, they are forced to confront their own internal demons in a production that marries film noir cinema, mid-century modern architecture, and the pervasive forces of repression raging both outside and within the walls of the house of Usher.
From the Conductor, Michelle Rofrano
Glass’s compositional style is perfectly suited to musically recreate the dark, pervasive atmosphere of Edgar Allen Poe’s iconic tale of horror. The seemingly incessant repetition of melancholy minor chords played by the orchestra, interrupted by unnerving interjections of solo instruments, create a suffocating atmosphere that engulfs the singers and audience in a way that mirrors the dread within the haunted House of Usher. This opera production will evoke audiences’ imaginations, forcing them to wrestle with the duality of pitying the characters onstage while simultaneously being horrified by their actions. I am greatly looking forward to delving into this fantastic score and to sharing the musical world of Philip Glass’s striking work with Portland audiences.