Portland Opera’s Acting Music Director Talks About Exercise, Matcha, Anti-Racism & More

When Damien Geter, Interim Music Director and Artistic Advisor for Portland Opera, says he listened to all types of music growing up, he truly means it.

“It sounds hyperbolic, but it’s true,” says Geter. “We probably listened to mostly R&B and gospel, but we listened to Dolly Parton, we listened to Madonna. I went through a grunge phase. There was a lot of jazz in the house. We had Beethoven and Tchaikovsky records.

Geter’s epic range of passions make him the perfect musical director for Portland Opera in 2022. When the sun comes out, a love story between two women set in a fantasy land, and winner of the Pulitzer Prize The Central Park Five, the company will present to the public a wide range of works that promise to broaden public perceptions of what opera can be and to whom it can be addressed.

“You’re going to see grand opera in a whole different way,” says Geter. “From a visual standpoint, you will see singers from all walks of life that you can think of, hopefully. With the shadow of the looming pandemic, he also adds, “We don’t want to have a whole season of drama and trauma. We like to have a balanced season.

Geter has his own stories to tell, including an opera he is composing that he describes as a dark comedy about Mary’s decision to give birth to Christ, but he has taken a long time despite his schedule. busy time to discuss seven things he considers essential in his life, which he listed in no particular order.

1. Gym membership

I am a member of Me Fitness in North East Portland. I go there four times a week. I’m not one of those people who’s like a gym manager. I’m not doing this to get muscle or anything. I do this mainly to keep moving because most of the work I do I stay in one place, just sit there. Your body is an instrument.

2. Matcha

Matcha is the kind of thing you either love or hate. It tastes very bitter. It is a green tea that has been ground. I don’t particularly like coffee, but I will make matcha in the morning. I didn’t find it to have any effect on the voice or anything like that. It may dry it out a bit, but there is nothing wrong with it.

3. Health care

I don’t know why this country hasn’t figured it out yet. I went to England and had to go to emergency care for something minor. I didn’t pay a dime. I am not even a citizen of this country. I am now climbing into my soapbox, but we have seen that universal health care can work.

4. Friends

I consider myself to be an introvert. I really do. Not even an extrovert introvert, anything. But if I’ve noticed anything over the past year, it’s that I still need a connection with my friends in some way. So it was fun for me to reconnect with a lot of people last year when I felt a little more secure.

5. Laugh

Well, I’ll tell you what has been making me laugh lately: TikTok videos and those reels popping up on social media. They definitely put me through a lot of dark times. Like today I saw a reel of this doll that looked like [it was from] The Exorcist. He would say something like “Back to work after day six of COVID. “

6. Antiracist ideation

Anti-racism for me means decentering white voices, putting black voices at the center, creating intentional opportunities for blacks. It was hard [when I was teaching] because I worked in private schools, and the culture and the dynamic was set up for white people. I’m just being honest with you. When I taught at Portland State University I had a black student and made sure he was up to date with everything that was going on in the real world. I no longer teach there, but we are still in contact. And he always calls me and asks me for advice.

7. Music

My brother was a DJ for a while. My mother sang in church. My grandmother played the piano. Music has always been part of our lives. My willingness to listen to everything stuck with me as an adult. In fact, I don’t understand people who only listen to one type of music.

SEE : When the sun comes out performs at the Hampton Opera Center, 211 SE Caruthers St., 503-241-1802, portlandopera.org. 7:30 p.m. Friday January 28; Thursday February 3 and 10; Saturday February 5 and 12 2 p.m. Sunday January 30. $ 75.

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