04 20 2015
  11:32 pm  
40 Years of Service
Pirates of Penzance

The Portland Opera company's new multi-racial production of 'Pirates of Penzance' was directed by Bill Rauch, artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Photo ©Cory Weaver, Portland Opera

The Portland Opera’s new production of “The Pirates of Penzance” is grabbing attention for a lot of reasons – its updated musical stylings, the skill of its singers who are already getting raves for their acting skills, and especially the hilarity of the comic operetta’s story about a young pirate coming of age.

But for many observers the juiciest thing is that two African American artists from Northeast Portland – mezzo soprano Shalanda Sims and baritone Emmanuel Joseph Henreid -- are in the cast, joining a multi-racial production of the 1879 comedy by Arthur Sullivan and W.S. Gilbert.

Sims has spent years directing local kids in annual shows at Jefferson High School – her alma mater -- from acting to music and more. Each year her students perform a Black History month show; most recently the performance was about the lost community of Vanport.

She says the rush of finding her name in the opera playbill is exhilarating every time she sees it – and she never doubted it was possible.

“I received an e-mail that they were casting; they were looking for someone to sing gospel music,” Sims says. “And so I came in for an audition.”

Sims was so good, her name is in the program – she plays one of the Major-General’s daughters, Isabel.

She says that, from her opera experience, she is bringing back to her young students the lessons of discipline and practice.

“When I was coming up, we weren't able to afford the classes and training that a lot of the other theater kids had,” she says.

“So that has been my goal, to have something for the young people who want to get some training, but they don't have the resources to be on stage.”

Sims voice resonates when she talks about her experience so far.

“My mind is blown,” she says. “I'm having a great time and I guess I’m still in awe.”

Henreid’s story is reminiscent of novels by Mitchel S. Jackson and Heidi Durrow – except for its absolutely happy ending.

Before his family moved him away from the Alberta Street area’s gang life when he was a small boy in the mid-1990s to a safer neighborhood in Gresham, Henreid says he spent a lot of time indoors.

“One summer there were six murders,” he says. “I think that was the summer that I always watched OPB, and one day I stumbled upon an opera.

“I knew that a lot of kids have their own superheroes, and they knew of Superman and Batman – but once I witnessed opera, for me that was it. That was my superhero moment.

“And I said to myself at the age of seven, that's what I want to do.”

Henreid learned that wasn’t so easy though; he says his voice was so bad people urged him to shut up. But he didn’t listen to them.

“I would practice in the bathroom for hours and hours, and my mother would just be praying on the other side of the wall, Lord please let him be able to sing one day,” he says.

Finally, after years of study and practice, Henreid in his junior year of high school was named the top young baritone in the state of Oregon.

He graduated from high school in Gresham and attended ConcordiaUniversity.

Today he sings, in addition to the opera, with a gospel ensemble called Kingdom Sound, often heard at the Highland Christian Center in East Portland.

Find out more about Shalanda Sims’ work here.

For Portland Opera ticket information and more, click here.


Pacific NW Carpenters Union

Commenting Guidelines

  • Keep it clean: Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language
  • No personal attacks: We reserve the right to remove offensive comments
  • Be truthful: Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything
  • Be nice: No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person
  • Help us: If you see an abusive post, let us know at info@theskanner.com
  • Keep to topic: We will remove irrelevant posts and spam
  • Share with us: We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts; the history behind an article

Recently Published by The Skanner News

  • Default
  • Title
  • Date
  • Random
  • When should we use military to enforce US goals? NASHUA, N.H. (AP) — Rand Paul lashed out Saturday at military hawks in the Republican Party in a clash over foreign policy dividing the packed GOP presidential field. Paul, a first-term senator from Kentucky who favors a smaller U.S. footprint in the world, said that some of his Republican colleagues would do more harm in international affairs than would leading Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton. "The other Republicans will criticize the president and Hillary Clinton for their foreign policy, but they would just have done the same thing — just 10 times over," Paul said on the closing day of a New Hampshire GOP conference that brought about 20 presidential prospects to the first-in-the-nation primary state. "There's a group of folks in our party who would have troops in six countries right now, maybe more," Paul said. Foreign policy looms large in the presidential race as the U.S. struggles to resolve diplomatic and military conflicts across the globe. The GOP presidential class regularly rails against President Barack Obama's leadership on the world stage, yet some would-be contenders have yet to articulate their own positions, while others offered sharply different visions. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose brother, President George W. Bush, authorized the 2003 invasion of Iraq, declined to say whether he would have done anything different then. Yet Jeb Bush acknowledged a shift in his party against new military action abroad. "Our enemies need to fear us, a little bit, just enough for them to deter the actions that create insecurity," Bush said earlier in the conference. He said restoring alliances "that will create less likelihood of America's boots on the ground has to be the priority, the first priority of the next president." The GOP's hawks were well represented at the event, led by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has limited foreign policy experience but articulated a muscular vision during his Saturday keynote address. Walker said the threats posed by radical Islamic terrorism won't be handled simply with "a couple bombings." "We're not going to wait till they bring the fight to us," Walker said. "We're going to bring the fight to them and fight on their soil." South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham addressed the question of putting U.S. troops directly in the battle against the Islamic State group militants by saying there is only one way to defeat the militants: "You go over there and you fight them so they don't come here." Texas Sen. Ted Cruz suggested an aggressive approach as well. "The way to defeat ISIS is a simple and clear military objective," he said. "We will destroy them." Businesswoman Carly Fiorina offered a similar outlook. "The world is a more dangerous and more tragic place when America is not leading. And America has not led for quite some time," she said. Under Obama, a U.S.-led coalition of Western and Arab countries is conducting regular airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. also has hundreds of military advisers in Iraq helping Iraqi security forces plan operations against the Islamic State, which occupies large chunks of northern and western Iraq. Paul didn't totally reject the use of military force, noting that he recently introduced a declaration of war against the Islamic State group. But in an interview with The Associated Press, he emphasized the importance of diplomacy. He singled out Russia and China, which have complicated relationships with the U.S., as countries that could contribute to U.S. foreign policy interests. "I think the Russians and the Chinese have great potential to help make the world a better place," he said. "I don't say that naively that they're going to, but they have the potential to." Paul suggested the Russians could help by getting Syrian President Bashar Assad to leave power. "Maybe he goes to Russia," Paul said. Despite tensions with the U.S., Russia and China negotiated alongside Washington in nuclear talks with Iran. Paul has said he is keeping an open mind about the nuclear negotiations. "The people who already are very skeptical, very doubtful, may not like the president for partisan reasons," he said, and "just may want war instead of negotiations."
    Read More
  • Some lawmakers, sensing a tipping point, are backing the parents and teachers who complain about 'high stakes' tests   
    Read More
  • Watch Rachel Maddow interview VA Secretary Robert McDonald  
    Read More
  • Some two thousand people pack halls to hear Trayvon Martin's mom speak   
    Read More
load morehold SHIFT key to load allload all


The Skanner Photo Archives

About Us

Breaking News

The Skanner TV

Turn the pages

Portland Opera Showboat 2
The Skanner Photo Archives