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This Portland Opera character is purr-fect

Stray cat ‘Figaro’ makes himself at home behind scenes
by: Courtesy of Emily Stevens 
Figaro, a stray cat and Portland Opera’s new mascot, loves all the behind-the-scenes action – except of course for visiting dogs.

Figaro lives, eats, plays and sleeps and just comes across as pretty darn adorable at the Portland Opera, and not just for the next two weekends. Last spring, Jonah Stagg, a warehouse assistant at the Opera’s office on Southeast Caruthers Street, brought in a stray cat that had been hanging out by his North Portland home. Knowing that the opera had been a feline-less place since the passing of the beloved Nerissa two years ago, Stagg offered up the lil’ fella to the company’s costume shop. The black-and-tan tabby made himself at home. “They opened up his carrier, he walked around the shop, checked everybody out and made himself a bed on a pile of fabric,” says Rae Minten, a cutter/draper. “We thought he might stay overnight. He stayed a week, and that was it.” Daniel Mobbs, the lead character and singer of the Opera’s “Marriage of Figaro,” named him Figaro. The cat adores people and puts up with all the commotion that goes with an opera and its costume shop. After the queenly, sedate Nerissa, the Opera folks had two or three other cats camp out, but each of them got freaked out by all the activity and went bye-bye. Figaro? “He’s super social. Loves the interaction,” Minten says. “He’s the welcome wagon to anyone new. If you want to win his heart, you play and pay attention to him. “He’s super therapeutic for so many singers who have left their families and their own pets. He scoots around like a little kitten, playing with paper balls and he runs up and down the hall. … We think he’s about four, but he acts like a kitten. … ‘Figaro’ (the character) is a playful and charming chap, and so is our black-and-tan tabby.” The only thing that bothers Figaro? “Dogs,” Minten adds. “There are dogs on the third floor and (Figaro) pretty much protects his floor.” Figaro has his own food bowl, drinks water from a Portland Opera coffee mug and finds his litter box tucked discreetly away. “His bed is in the center of the room,” Minten says, “on the ironing board table, so everyone can see him when they walk in.” — Jason Vondersmith