I was really pleased and flattered to be invited to participate in the Portland Opera's "Comics Night at the Opera" this week. 20-or-so of Portland's best and brightest cartoonists were treated to a night of good food, good drink, a backstage tour and a free performance of the Portland Opera's productions of Pagliacci and Carmina Burana, which opens formally tonight. In exchange for this special viewing, we all agreed to simply sketch our impressions of the show and to share those drawings with the opera company, their patrons and their audience. The artwork will be shown during a slideshow at tonight's performance, and originals will be hung on a wire around the lobby for the audience to view up close.
The amount of press this little event has garnered is pretty significant! By tapping into this town's massive comics community, the Opera has nabbed a bunch of free publicity not normally granted to an opera opening around here. Twitter has been abuzz, and it even got a decent write-up from the local alt-weekly (a paper whose readership is not known to frequent the opera at all). I understand the local tv news stations will also be attending tonight in the hopes of talking to some of the participating artists.
I really hope that other media and arts organizations learn from this lesson: Comics as an art form can support and enhance just about any other form of art, especially performance! Comics and illustration can be used to capture aspects of a live performance to which still photos simply cannot do justice. I hope to see more integration and cross-pollination between the performing arts and the comics communities in the future. Not just in Portland, but everywhere! Based on the popular success of this experiment, I can't help but feel like we're on the verge of seeing a resurgence in the use of illustration as promotional work again.
Oh, and you can see my pieces hanging out over in my black-and-white portfolio!