Introducing the Rock Opera Project

This summer, PHAME is beginning an 18-month collaboration with the Portland Opera, and we're calling it the Rock Opera Project. The project is part education, and part performance. For the next few school terms at PHAME, we’ll hold many classes where students can learn how to create a rock opera, including designing costumes, building sets, and writing the story and the songs.  In these classes we’ll not only be learning about rock operas, but will also be creating our own opera based on fairy tales. 

To start the project off, we're offering four classes this summer, as well as four Cinderella-themed mini-courses. On August 29 we'll have a Rock Opera Showcase where students will share what they've learned over the summer.

In the summer of 2019, we’ll make the rock opera we’ve written come to life!  We will have auditions, rehearsals and six performances of our rock opera at Portland Opera’s Hampton Opera Center stage.

We've compiled the following Q&A outlining the main parts of the project. If you have additional questions, please feel free to email us at

What is a rock opera?

A rock opera is a collection of rock music songs that together tell a story.  Sometimes when they are acted on a stage they are called a rock musical.  Some examples of rock operas/musicals are Rent, Tommy, Spring Awakening and Jesus Christ, Superstar. 

I want to be a part of this project!  How do I get involved?

Sign up for a “Rock Opera Project” class!  All of the classes we will offer this summer are part of the Rock Opera Project, and during the rest of the year (Fall, Winter and Spring Terms) classes will clearly be labeled in the course catalog if they are part of the Rock Opera Project.  In fact, the Choir will be learning some rock opera songs starting this spring. And next summer, you can audition for a part in the rock opera!

Do I have to audition to be part of the Rock Opera Project?

Nope.  Classes are a big part of the Rock Opera Project, and you won’t have to audition for any of the Rock Opera Project classes, except Ipad Ensemble and Rock Ensemble, as always. Everyone who takes a Rock Opera Project class will have their name printed in the rock opera performance program.

Do I have to audition to be in the cast of the rock opera performance in 2019?

Yes, but everyone who auditions will receive a role in the rock opera.  There will be many different roles to play in the rock opera: actors, singers, musicians and movers. You may not get the part you want, but if you audition, there will be a part for you.

In addition to stage roles, there will be many other ways to be involved with the production. We’ll have opportunities for students to be involved with creating the story, writing the music, designing sets and costumes, working front and back of house at the performance, and more.

What about this summer – 2018? What classes are being offered, and is there a performance?

This summer we’re offering four classes: Choir, Song Writing, Vocal Studio, and Costume Design. We will have one performance which is called the “Rock Opera Showcase.” At the showcase, students will share what they learned over the summer. It will be similar to Get PHAMEous open houses and our annual Winter Concert. Students in each summer class will have the chance to perform or share their work. This showcase will also be on the Portland Opera stage.

My family likes to travel in the summer—if I don’t take classes this summer, can I still be in the project?

YES!  We know that not all students can or want to be part of the summer classes because of travel or family plans.  In addition, because we’re only offering four classes, there may not be a class that works in your schedule, or the class you want may fill up before you register.  No worries!  If you can’t be part of this summer’s classes, you can still be part of the Rock Opera Project by signing up for a rock opera class sometime next year or by auditioning for the performance next summer.

I keep hearing about the Cinderella Mini-Courses – what are these?

The Cinderella Mini-Courses are special workshops being offered in partnership with the Portland Opera. The Mini-Courses are all related to their summer performance of “La Cenerentola” (the Italian name for Cinderella). The four parts of this series can be taken separately, but we recommend taking them all to get the full experience.  The Cinderella Mini-Courses are a great option if you can’t take summer classes, but want to do something with PHAME this summer. 

Here are the four Cinderella Mini-Courses:

• Cinderella Around the World: A one-day workshop about the Cinderella story and its many forms.

• Exploring Rossini: A one-day workshop exploring the Italian composer who wrote an opera about Cinderella.

• Portland Opera Costume Shop Tour: An afternoon tour highlighting the costumes for the opera "La Cenerentola.”

• Newmark Theater Backstage Tour & Dress Rehearsal Performance: A tour of the theater where "La Cenerentola" is being performed, followed by a full viewing of the final dress rehearsal for the opera.

When will the full schedule for Summer Term classes and mini-courses be announced, and when will registration open?

We’ll be posting the full list of Summer Term classes and Mini-Courses mid-April, and will also be sending current students a course catalog listing all the options for Summer Term. Registration will open online on Monday, May 7 at 10 AM.

Should I register online, or by mail?

There are limited spots available in Summer Term, so we highly recommend registering online to have the best chance at getting the classes you want.

Are there other ways to get involved? 

Absolutely!  For sponsorship opportunities , please contact Executive Director Jenny R. Stadler at 503-764-9718 ext. 1.  Tickets for the showcase will go on sale this summer, so save the date—August 29—and check back soon.


Anya Roberts