April 12 — May 8, 2011
On the U.S. Bank Main Stage

By Michael Hollinger
Directed by Brendon Fox
“So entertaining and insightful that you’ll never quite listen to a chamber music group the same way again.” —New York Post

Ex-violist Michael Hollinger trades in his bow for a pen in this a tart and witty chamber piece about the politics and passions that threaten a classical string quartet. In front of an audience they’re pitch perfect but behind the scenes the Lazara string quartet is coming unstrung- all on the eve of their first televised performance for the President of the United States. There’s sex, there’s drugs, there’s…chamber music, but the real rewards lie in Hollinger’s insights into the balancing act of drudgery, machination and volatile genius that make a seemingly effortless performance possible.

Performance times:
Tuesday - Sunday evenings at 7:30 pm
Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:00 pm
Thursday matinees at noon

A full list of performances and dates will appear when you enter the Buy Tickets section of the website

Opus runs 90 minutes with no intermission.

View the Cast and Creative Team Bios

Playbill for Opus

Performance Times

Evenings: Tuesday - Sunday at 7:30 p.m.
Matinees: Saturday and Sundays at 2 p.m.,
Thursdays at noon

*Note: These are general performance times. Certain productions may have exceptions. View the season calendar for more information.

This show's run time will be posted below the synopsis at left near the date of the first performance.

Production blog

Trio Intime Sounds.Like.Portland on May 7th

Trio Intime Sounds.Like.Portland on May 7th

02 May 2011 & Posted by Sarah Mitchell

Sounds.Like.Portland.  Join us in the lobbies before Opus to hear Trio Intime (piano, clarinet, & cello) share an eclectic mix of classical and crossover music, incorporating jazz, latin, celtic and new age styles – from Beethoven to Bill Douglas. 6:30 to 7:15pm on the Mezzanine.


A Study of String Quartets

26 April 2011 & Posted by Kinsley Suer

We’ve already discussed that quarrelling quartets can be a little more fact than fiction. In contrast to, say, an orchestra, quartets are self-governing entities. While each member theoretically and ideally has an equal voice, we all know that sometimes it’s the loudest voice in a group that ultimately makes the decisions. Read on to learn more about the results of an extensive British study of string quartets. How well does Opus’ Lazara String Quartet fit in to these results?


Thoughts on “Opus” from a Professional Athlete

19 April 2011 & Posted by Mandy Morgan

Some of you may have caught a lacrosse game when the Portland LumberJax were in Portland (they played at the Rose Garden through May 2009). If so, you probably remember the Morgan brothers. They were the tallest players in the NLL at the time, so it was hard to miss them! The tallest of the three brothers and former professional basketball player, David Morgan, paid a visit to Portland Center Stage on Friday night. I asked him about his thoughts on Opus, and his answers surprised me.



Opus art & photos View on Flickr »

Trailer for Opus. View on Vimeo »

Reviews and Features

Charles Noble | NobleViola [Review 29 Apr 2011]

Last night I had the pleasure of attending OPUS, the current play running at Portland Center Stage. It’s a short play (it runs about 90 minutes) that examines the inner workings of a top-rank string quartet. It was a very enjoyable experience, and a play that can be enjoyed by both insiders and those who don’t know a thing about classical music and the string quartet.

read more

Alison Hallett | The Portland Mercury [Review 21 Apr 2011]

Chris Coleman has been the artistic director of Portland Center Stage since 2000, and season subscribers (and local theater critics) are well familiar with his opening night curtain speeches. In those moments and many others in his capacity as a local arts leader, the community has received a distinct impression of Coleman’s personality, and of Coleman as a personality.

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Ben Waterhouse | Willamette Week [Review 20 Apr 2011]

This is a story of four men and a fiddle. And a woman and a viola, too, but let’s not complicate matters overly. Michael Hollinger’s very funny chamber-music drama is all about the experience of playing in a string quartet, which is, if Brendon Fox’s production for Portland Center Stage is to be believed, like really amazing sex with an irremediably crazy, emotionally abusive partner.

read more

Ed Goldberg | All Classical [Review 18 Apr 2011]

I was going to begin this review with examples of the breakups of musical groups over, ahem, personal and artistic issues. But, the program for this play helpfully provides a few, including a couple I never would have considered. I wanted to do The Beatles and Louis Armstrong leaving the King Oliver Orchestra. The first included the old “personal and artistic,” of course, although any of us who recall it knew that this hardly described a band whose dissolution was evident in their music for years.

Armstrong left Oliver at the urging of his wife, pianist Lil Hardin, who thought he could do better as a leader. She was right.

read more

Barry Johnson | Arts Dispatch [Review 18 Apr 2011]

I would have wanted to see Opus even if Chris Coleman wasn’t playing in it. It’s about critical moment in the life of a string quartet—with flashbacks to other critical moments—and I’ve been interested in the dynamics of small groups for a long time. We spend much our lives in small groups, voluntary or otherwise, and yet we haven’t developed that many useful approaches or insights into how they work. Not that I’ve seen anyway.

A string quartet is different from a lot of musical organizations, more democratic, usually, and more organic, sometimes. And we get to eavesdrop on their conversation—at least the musical performance part of it. What goes on behind the scenes? Well, that’s what playwright Michael Hollinger, himself a classically trained violist, tells us about in Opus.

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