Tag Archives: Coffman Labs

November 7th: The Impressario

7 Nov

Portland State Music: 30 for the 30th

Name: Madelaine Coffman

Instrument: voice

Student of Doug Schneider

B. S. 2008 Portland State University

Putting Music Forward

What kind of person starts their own opera company?  Most likely someone with a deep passion and belief in the power of the art form.  Such a person would need to embrace collaboration, to be innovative, business savvy, forward thinking and creative.  Being willing to take the path less traveled wouldn’t’ hurt either.


Putting Skills to Work

Heretic (noun): anyone who does not conform to an established attitude, doctrine, or principle.

Madelaine Coffman is the Founder and Artistic Director of Heretic Opera.  Her goal is nothing less than developing “fresh, honest, and innovative music theater based directly on life in the modern world.”  And she does hold some rather non-conformist views — at least for someone engaged in a 500 year old art form.

Many of the seeds of Madelaine’s current endeavors were planted during her time at Portland State.  After entering PSU as a vocal major, she developed an interest in Arts Administration and Production, for which there was no formal course of study at the time.  Madelaine then shifted her degree path to pursue a B.S. in Arts and Letters, which allowed her to develop personal projects that would help her grow as an arts entrepreneur.   While developing a foundation in the traditional worlds of opera and theater, Madelaine was busy envisioning a way for emerging arts entrepreneurs to utilize their expertise in crafting new, multi-disciplinary works to share fresh stories.

Madelaine was awarded the PSU Student Leader of the Year Award in 2007 for her work re-building the Student Opera Association of PSU (SOAP) into an organization that provided pre-professional services to opera students, including masterclasses, access to performing arts conventions, a Business of Singing seminar, movement classes, performance opportunities and other activities. S.O.A.P’s debut production Dido and Aeneas, which Madelaine directed and produced, was designated a “Best Bet” by the Oregonian newspaper.

Her current endeavor Heretic Opera is committed to exploring the boundaries of opera while fostering a collaborative community.  Madelaine firmly believes in the viability of the performing arts in the marketplace, and that compelling works of art will always have strong appeal.  Heretic Opera tries to combine artistic and business innovation to engage new audiences.  By offering its artists the opportunity to develop, construct, and benefit from their own ideas, she believes that Heretic Opera can help to cultivate a new wave of arts entrepreneurship.  Heretic Opera’s debut production Valentine,  based on an original story and libretto written by Madelaine, will premiere in January/February 2013–online.


Adding Something Unique

Madelaine is the General Manager at Coffman Labs, where she helped to design and develop the G1-A, a modernist take on the classic analog amplifiers of the hifi golden age.  She is also certified as a mediator in the state of Oregon, and a member of the Steering Committee for the Portland Emerging Arts Leaders (PEAL).


What Has Your PSU Music Experience Meant to You?

“The thing I am most grateful for from my time at PSU is that there were multiple pathways available for students to succeed – they weren’t always obvious, but they were there if you looked.  I was able to find a niche in the performing arts that I didn’t know I was seeking, and found a wide variety of resources to develop myself as an arts professional while providing support to my peers.  I don’t know that I would have ever had the courage to start a project as large as Heretic Opera if I hadn’t learned the skills of production through my experiences at PSU.”