NOVEMBER 4, 2021 – OPERA THEATER OREGON is excited to announce a new intercultural collaboration with Aqai-Dika/Lemhi-Shoshone culture bearer and descendant of Sacajawea, Rose Ann Abrahamson.  Sacajawea or Saca-tza-we-ya: That is Her Burden will reimagine the extraordinary Shoshone woman who was a crucial member of the historic 1804-1806 Lewis and Clark Expedition, from her Aqai-Dika Indigenous perspective in a new opera-theater work.

“Given this name as a child, according to Aqai Dika naming traditions, ‘Sacatzaweya’ (pronounced Saca-ja-we-ya) means ‘That is her burden’…We are telling Sacajawea’s story, her story, from an Aqai Dika perspective from her female familial descendants and people, a woman’s story from women.  This story will share tradition, history and culture of Sacajawea from the viewpoint and oral history of the women of her people.  The songs will express these aspects, and most importantly her language will be preserved through operatic songs.”

~Rose Ann Abrahamson 

Rose Ann Abrahamson and Justin Ralls at the Sacajawea Education, Interpretive and Cultural Center in Salmon, Idaho – the ancestral homeland of the Aqai-Dika people.

On November 4, 1804 Sacajawea is first mentioned by William Clark as one of “wives” of Toussaint Charbonneau, stating “we engau him to go on with us and take one of his wives to interpet the Snake language.” (‘Snake’ being another name for the Shoshone). Little did Lewis and Clark know just how crucial Sacajawea and her people would be to the expedition’s success or that she would endure as one the most famous members of the expedition. She remains one of the most famous women in American history, yet few have told her story from her Aqai-Dika perspective. Last month our nation celebrated our first official Indigenous People’s Day and this month we honor November as Native American Heritage Month. This project aims to honor, through opera, the remarkable contributions and unique experience of Indigenous peoples, past, present, and future.

Learn more about this exciting project.


OTO reprises our popular 2019 show, presenting this unique dramatic song experience again this Fall at Polaris Hall!



DREAM WITHIN A DREAM is an original twelve-part series of weird, short, experimental “opera scenas” based upon the pandemic dreams of Lisa Lipton, realized by multiple composers, and filmed at Portland’s historic Polaris Hall as well as other environs…”

Episodes 1-3 features new music by composers Nicholas Emerson, Lisa Neher, and Justin Ralls with many more composers and collaborators yet to be announced! Featuring performances by Camille Sherman (soprano), Sequoia (piano), Lisa Lipton (Clarinet), C. Richard Moore (Ondes Martenot) and more to be announced.


Damien Geter’s Invisible, World Premiere and Commission by Opera Theater Oregon, Oct. 31, 2020, followed by Onry’s Living in the Light. Feat. Onry, George Colligan, and Micah Hummel

VOTE! Get out, get active!

ABOVE: OTO ART / ACTIVISM, Featuring composer Michael Lanci’s response to the 2016 election, setting 19th Century protest song texts. “Stolen Crown” from “Songs for Joe Hill,” as part of OTO’s 2019 production This Land Sings at the Alberta Rose Theatre, Portland, Oregon.


Invisible: A Virtual Songspiel


October 31, 2020 / 7:30 p.m. live stream from Polaris Hall

Composer, Damien Geter

Join OTO for a program featuring the world premiere of Damien Geter’s Invisible, adapted from the prologue of Ralph Ellison’s novel, Invisible Man, which lyrically interrogates themes of racism and identity for African Americans.

This unique “virtual songspiel” at Portland’s intimate Polaris Hall begins with Franz Schubert’s “Shepherd on the Rock,” journeys through time and space with some of the first and last songs of Amy Beach and Stephen Foster, and closes with the premiere performance of Invisible by special guest, Portland’s own Onry. Program will also feature a special performance of Onry’s original song, Living in the Light. 

Look forward to performances by Jocelyn Claire Thomas, Camille Sherman, Adrian Rosales-Casilas, Lisa Lipton, Logan Thane Brown, with Sequoia accompanying on piano and arrangements by Artistic Director, Justin Ralls. With guest appearance by jazz pianist George Colligan.

“Imagine if Franz Schubert, Stephen Foster, Amy Beach, Damien Geter and Onry all found themselves in Havisham’s parlor from Great Expectations, presenting their music in a Twilight Zone-esque salon of music, poetry, and a dreamlike reflection of past, present, and future on what will surely be the most surreal Hallows’ Eve in recent memory. We hope to give an intimate, cathartic experience – interrogating nostalgia and promoting innovation – and asserting that music has a place in times of upheaval.” 

                      – Justin Ralls, Artistic Director 

We are excited to announce a forthcoming collaboration with stage direction by Kate Bergstrom and experimental lighting collaboration with Open Show in the creation of a music video Invisible , featuring Damien Geter and Onry.

October 31, 2020

7:30 p.m. live stream from Polaris Hall


Sliding scale donation: $10-20 

Duration: ca. 50 min. 

CLIMATE OF GUILT: Admissions and Extinction (2020)

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, our planned performances of Admissions by Michael Lanci, and Song of the Most Beautiful Bird of the Forest by Justin Ralls have been indefinitely postponed. We are still committed to performing these works – stay tuned for future developments of our Climate of Guilt project.

We acknowledge the ancestral land of Indigenous people: “The Portland Metro area rests on traditional village sites of the Multnomah, Wasco, Cowlitz, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Bands of Chinook, Tualatin, Kalapuya, Molalla, and many other tribes who made their homes along the Columbia River creating communities and summer encampments to harvest and use the plentiful natural resources of the area.” (Portland Indian Leaders Roundtable, 2018). We also acknowledge that our organization passively benefits from the displacement, genocide, and exploitation of Indigenous peoples. Yet, as Summer Wilkie critiques, “Until action is taken to identify and empower Indigenous people, accurate history is taught, and land-based justice is carried out, a land acknowledgement statement feels mostly empty and alienating.” OTO pledges to listen and learn from our Indigenous community and explore how our mission and organization may serve and empower their voices and goals.