Founded in 2017 at Portland State University, Queer Opera is dedicated to providing a safe stage for LGBTQIA singers and allies to tell queer stories through the traditional genre of opera. Using unconventional casting methods, roles are matched with individuals based on how they identify, rather than the gender of the role or their voice type.
Queer Opera believes that everyone's story belongs on a stage. Started as a one-week workshop for pre-professional and young professional singers, QO continues to grow with plans for full productions in the near future.
Even in the back row, the choreography, singing and facial expressions were clear. I’ve never experienced this level of intimacy at an opera concert. The people behind the characters were apparent. No longer were they stuck with codified personality traits; the characters now reflected aspects of the actors’ personas.
Charles Rose, PSU Vanguard 10/11/18
What We Do
Our week-long workshop in September provides an intensive opportunity for singers to explore roles that more closely align with their own identities through opera scenes and art songs.
Queer Opera has presented lectures and performances for various organizations including the National Opera Association, National Association of Teachers of Singing, and College Music Society on the regional and national levels.
Through opera, art song, and chamber music, Queer Opera is able to present new, vibrant works for the stage as well as putting a queer twist on the classics.
Founder and Artistic Director
Chuck Dillard is a musician at his best while working with others. Hired as a church pianist at age seven, he fashioned his musical beginnings, education and career around the art of collaboration. As a concert pianist, Chuck enjoys collaborating with international performers in every voice type and instrument. An enthusiastic supporter of recital evolution, his concerts often include elements of photography, dance, spoken word and other integrated art forms. In opera, Chuck works as a conductor, coach and pianist for companies including Portland Opera, Austin Opera, Opera Carolina, Central City Opera, Piedmont Opera. His collaboration with Marin Alsop and Opera Colorado on a new production of Nixon in China is available on the Naxos label. As an educator, Dr. Dillard crafts his instruction around the belief that today’s musician should be able to make a living in their art form while creating beautiful music in the process. Passionate about queer visibility in music, he strives to give a stage to anyone who wants to tell their story. Dr. Dillard received degrees in collaborative piano from the University of Colorado – Boulder (DMA) and the University of Maryland – College Park (MM). He has developed courses in vocal and instrumental accompanying, lyric diction, music theory, collaborative literature and art song history. Chuck is the Associate Professor of Collaborative Piano and Music Director of the Portland State Opera at Portland State University in Portland, OR.
[Photo: Richard Poppino]
Rebecca Herman, Artistic Producer of Local Opera Local Artists (LOLA) in Austin, TX & opera stage director is a storyteller who thrives on surprising, exciting, & moving audiences large & small. She is the Associate Director for Tomer Zvulun’s production of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, recently seen at Calgary Opera and Utah Opera. In the 23-24 season, she is excited to be joining Colorado Opera as assistant director for Don Giovani, Opera Omaha as assistant director for La Traviata, and returning to Austin Opera to direct Carmen.
Notable LOLA productions include: La Femme Bohème (La Bohème cast with all treble voices); La Clemenza di Tito: a Retelling (told through the eyes of Berenice of Cilicia, Tito’s lover through added monologues spoken between musical numbers instead of the traditional recit); We Might Be Struck By Lightning (a devised work using classical Art song to tell two interwoven stories performed by 2 singers and 4 dancers); and Lardo Weeping (a chamber opera featuring Dinah LeFarge “a rather large, sexual, woman of independent means,” who invites the audience into her living room for an evening of stories, musings, ranting, and ultimately physical transformation).
Rebecca loves to collaborate with living composers and librettists. In the last several years, she has been able to facilitate the development of 4 new works: Lardo Weeping (Stopschinski, Galloway); Good Country (Allegretti, Raker); Undine Speaks (Allegretti, Herman) and Un Cuento des Luces y Sombras (Cordero, Barboza). She finds working with living composer/librettist teams exhilarating, challenging, and rewarding.