Mezzo-Soprano, Marion Newman (Photo courtesy of Domoney Artist Management)

On May 13-14 , 2023 OTO will be a premiering a 35-minute scene of this new work in development alongside excerpts of music, soundscapes, and presentations of traditional Agai-Dika/Lemhi-Shoshone music, language, and culture by Rose Ann Abrahamson and Hovia Edwards.  

We are thrilled to announce an internationally renowned cast to realize this work including Kwagiulth and Stó:lō First Nations mezzo-soprano, Marion Newman premiering the role of Sacajawea. Joining her are baritones, Richard Zeller, who will portray Toussaint Charbonneau, and Dan Gibbs as Captain William Clark. We are excited to announce two performances:

Saturday, May 13 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 14 2 p.m.
Hampton Opera Center’s The Gregory K. and Mary Chomenko Hinckley Studio Theatre


OPERA THEATER OREGON AWARDED 2023 New Music USA Small Arts Operating Grant

JANUARY 9, 2023

Happy New Year from OTO!

Portland, Oregon— New Music USA announced today ten awardees of its new Small Grant Fund, launching first in Portland, OR.  Opera Theater Oregon is proud to be among a thriving community of performing arts organizations in our region that champion new music and American composers. 

New Music USA is a national leader in supporting the work of contemporary composers and artists at the forefront of creating and performing new music. This grant directly supports OTO’s mission to “create, develop, and produce new operatic work,” including our much anticipated collaboration with Rose Ann Abrahamson and Hovia Edwards, Nu Nah-Hup: Sacajawea’s Story

“Extending our support of the many new music communities in cities and regions across the US is a priority for New Music USA in the coming years. We’re excited to launch our Small Grant Fund in the vibrant city of Portland, and grateful to our anonymous donor for recognizing the importance of unrestricted funding and for making this possible.” ~ Vanessa Reed, New Music USA’s President and CEO

Thank you New Music USA for such visionary leadership supporting work across the country. Opera Theater Oregon is honored to receive this award. 

OPERA THEATER OREGON AWARDED 2022 CREATIVE HEIGHTS FROM OREGON COMMUNITY FOUNDATION

Portland, Oregon – August 11, 2022 – Oregon Community Foundation (OCF) announced today this year’s Creative Heights award for Opera Theater Oregon’s Nu Nah-Hup: Sacajawea’s Story. “Many of this year’s Creative Heights grantees are elevating cultural voices, shining a light on little known history and launching significant new structures for artists to thrive” (OCF Press Release) Nu Nah-Hup was among the featured projects in this year’s release!

Sacajawea’s story will be told with some of the most amazing music in the world…To be able to share her voice and the stories of her people through opera, ‘Oose’ from the bottom of our hearts.

~ Rose Ann Abrahamson, great-great-grandniece of Sacajawea

We are deeply honored to receive a Creative Heights grant from Oregon Community Foundation to commission and produce Nu Nah-Hup: Sacajawea’s Story…We are so fortunate to be guided by Sacajawea’s descendent, Rose Ann Abrahamson. Working together to share Sacajawea’s story through opera will help preserve her Agai-Dika / Lemhi Shoshone language as well as celebrate her Indigenous perspective and contributions.

~ Lisa Lipton, Executive Director, Opera Theater Oregon.

OPERA THEATER OREGON NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS AWARD

Portland, Oregon — Opera Theater Oregon has been approved for a $25,000 Grants for Arts Projects award from the National Endowment for the Arts to support Nu Nah-Hup: Sacajawea’s Story. Opera Theater Oregon’s project is among 46 opera grants totaling more than $1.1 million, and among 1,125 projects across America totaling more than $26.6 million that were selected during this second round of Grants for Arts Projects fiscal year 2022 funding. This is OTO’s first NEA Award!!!

“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 the 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, great-great-grandniece of Sacajawea.

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.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support arts and cultural organizations throughout the nation with these grants, including Opera Theater Oregon, providing opportunities for all of us to live artful lives,” said NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD. “The arts contribute to our individual well-being, the well-being of our communities, and to our local economies. The arts are also crucial to helping us make sense of our circumstances from different perspectives as we emerge from the pandemic and plan for a shared new normal informed by our examined experience.”

“Opera Theater Oregon is thrilled to receive our first award from the National Endowment for the Arts for this historic and important project. We are so excited to share it with you.” 

~Lisa Lipton, Executive Director

OTO ANNOUNCES NEW PROJECT AND COLLABORATION!

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.  Nu Nah-Hup: Sacajawea’s Story 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.


 

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.


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