Big changes ahead at Opera Theater Oregon
Portland’s first indie opera company celebrates 10 years, brings back Artistic Director Katie Taylor
Former Artistic Director Katie Taylor has rejoined Opera Theater Oregon, taking back the hot seat from Erica Melton, who replaced Taylor in 2011. Melton will stay on as Music Director, a role she previously held from 2008 to 2011. Jen Wechsler remains with the company as Film Director.
Taylor and company are in the process of redefining what OTO is and how it will work as it moves into its second decade. The company is preparing for a relaunch later this year.
Taylor, Melton and Wechsler collaborated on some of the company’s most memorable productions, including the Baywatch Das Rheingold, Out of Eden (an original adaptation of Jules Massenet’s Werther), Hercules vs. Vampires and the film short Dick’s In Space.
Taylor previously led Opera Theater Oregon as Artistic Director from 2006 to 2011 and was the artistic visionary behind the development of the company’s novel approach to opera, which emphasizes radical accessibility and playful experimentation.
Melton, leading the company from 2011 to 2014, continued this approach with genre-bending productions that interwove opera with film, dance, cuisine and fashion, including the company's first outdoor production, The Cunning Little Vixen, performed at Wild Goose Farm on Sauvie Island.
In 2010, Taylor led a coalition of arts and humanities groups and a pro bono architect/engineer team in an ambitious campaign to lease and restore downtown’s Guild Theatre, which would have become home base for OTO. Though ultimately unsuccessful, the effort got the attention of Mike McMenamin, who offered OTO a two-year residency at The Mission Theatre (OTO is now resident at the Hollywood).
Hercules vs. Vampires, an original OTO production conceptualized by Taylor and Galen Huckins of Filmusik and composed for OTO by Patrick Morganelli, was remounted by LA Opera in April this year.
OTO was founded in 2005 by Angela Niederloh and Amy Russell.