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Portland actor raises his voice, profile in 'Marriage of Figaro'

Stacey Murdock has experience with part in local opera production
by: Cory Weaver 
Mozart takes Portland on a whirlwind ride of mistaken identities and general mayhem during Portland Opera's “The Marriage of Figaro,” opening at Keller Auditorium Nov. 4 and starring Portland’s own Stacey Murdock.

Stacey Murdock has been waiting for his chance.

Now, the 38-year-old Portland resident gets it - singing on the main stage at Keller Auditorium for the Portland Opera for the first time in 'Marriage of Figaro.'

'I'm pretty thrilled,' he says. 'I'm still walking around the Keller looking at everything. I've always wanted to be on the main stage for the Portland Opera.'

The opera hires stars and features its young aspiring singers, and then relies on the likes of Murdock to fill other parts. Murdock, who moved to Portland from Idaho in 2000, has been involved in several shows, from musicals to comedy to Portland Opera's outreach programs at schools.

As the story goes, Christopher Mattaliano, general director, and Clare Burovac, director of artistic administration, saw Murdock sing at a preview performance and thought he would be good to cast in the midrange baritone role of Antonio for 'Marriage of Figaro.'

The funny thing is, Murdock has appeared in Mozart's 'Marriage of Figaro' for other companies several times. After moving here in 2000, he landed the lead role in Portland State University's production.

So, when Murdock hears Daniel Mobbs as Figaro, Kurt Link as Bartolo and David Pittsinger as Count Almaviva, he knows exactly what they will be singing.

'I'm always in my dressing room singing along,' Murdock says. 'I know all the words in this show.'

He has a big scene, the finale of the second act, where he appears on stage with Figaro, Count Almaviva, Countess Almaviva and Susanna.

'It's one of Mozart's masterful scenes,' he says.

Working on such a big show, Murdock has been able to get to know the stars. Pittsinger, for example, became the first person believed to perform in a Broadway show (Emile de Becque in 'South Pacific') at Lincoln Center Theater during the day and perform in a Metropolitan Opera production (the father in 'Hamlet') at night.

Murdock recently had lunch with Pittsinger.

'Super down-to-Earth, nice guy,' he says.

Mobbs plays the lead role. 'He's also a really cool guy. He's very youth-like and nimble, jumping around. He's funny, with a great voice,' Murdock adds. 'He's really great for the role.'

It's not easy for local performers to get parts in Portland Opera shows. It's simply a really good opera company that can hire really good, renowned singers.

There is a long list of locals interested in roles. When one gets an opportunity to perform in a main stage production, such as at the Keller, it's imperative for him or her to do well.

Murdock prides himself on his acting ability as well, meaning he tries for roles in other forms of stage productions.

'You just need to go jump through the hoops, and they're not bad hoops to jump through,' Murdock says. 'I love this. I'm getting out and getting a lot more auditioning.'

Portland Opera will perform Mozart's comic masterpiece, 'Marriage of Figaro,' which focuses on the delicate and historically controversial interplay between the 18th century nobility and serving class. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4, Thursday, Nov. 10 and Saturday, Nov. 12, as well as 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 6, at Keller Auditorium, 222 S.W. Clay St. For tickets, which start at $20, call 503-241-1802.