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Slideshow: Comic Artist Night at the Portland Opera

Comics Draw Turendot

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What do comic books and the opera have in common? More than you might think, as illustrated by the Portland Opera’s Comic Artist Nights.

For each of their four 2010/11 productions, Portland Opera invited approximately 20 local comic artists to attend a dress rehearsal and draw whatever inspired them about the experience. Ranging from simple sketches to full-color illustrations, the artists’ drawings captured the essential elements of the opera: vivid characters, broad gestures, action, passion and dramatic storylines, plus a bit of gentle humor to bring things down to earth.

Oregon Art Beat was on hand to watch the artists in action during the performance of Puccini’s Turandot last February, and you can see this behind-the-scenes look on Thursday, October 27 at 8pm on OPB TV.

More to Explore

The Portland Opera is not holding the Comic Artist Nights this season, but you can find more of the drawings at their website. The new season begins November 4th with the Marriage of Figaro.

The idea to take the comics to the opera got its start during the opera’s Blogger Nights in 2009, says Portland Opera’s Julie Sheridan. Blogger and cartoonist Mike Russell drew “live comics adaptations” of The Barber of Seville and Rigoletto during the performances and tweeted the drawings to his followers. The results were so popular that the Opera decided to turn the idea into a full event the following season.

These types of events are a good example of how the opera has been trying to reach out to new audiences. “Portland has lots of artistic communities and we want to get to know them,” says Sheridan. “And it turns out that comics and the opera are two art forms that work well together.”