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As One

A Transgender Story. A New OPERA Experience.

Nov. 11-19, 2016

Overview

A new project by our Education & Community Engagement Department
Music and concept by Laura Kaminsky

Libretto by Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed
Commissioned and developed by American Opera Projects.

Seattle Opera is excited to bring a different kind of opera experience to a historic venue in the heart of our city! This November, join us at the iconic Washington Hall in Seattle’s Central District for the intimate chamber opera As One, a contemporary exploration of a transgender protagonist’s journey told through two voices. With empathy and humor, we experience Hannah’s youthful challenges in a small town,  her struggles with family, her discovery of the larger trans community, and her inspiring journey to be true to herself. As One is performed by a baritone and a mezzo-soprano with string quartet.

We are excited to partner with historic Washington Hall for this special presentation. The iconic venue has been a fixture in Seattle’s multi-cultural performing arts scene for decades including performances by greats Billie Holliday and Ella Fitzgerald. The intimate venue, once home to On The Boards, recently completed an extensive renovation and is once again opening its doors to innovative cultural offerings as a safe and welcoming place to gather create, entertain, and celebrate.

As One is intended to foster conversations within the Seattle community. We invite you to grab a drink from the bar before the show for a drink-in-hand theater experience, and linger afterwards for a discussion about the social issues raised by the work.

Performed at Washington Hall in Seattle's Central District.

Running time is approximately 90 minutes with no intermission.

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Synopsis

As One is a chamber opera in which two voices—Hannah after (mezzo-soprano) and Hannah before (baritone)—share the part of a sole transgender protagonist. Fifteen songs comprise the three-part narrative; with empathy and humor, they trace Hannah’s experiences from her youth in a small town to her college years on the West Coast, and finally to Norway where she is surprised at what she learns about herself.

Part I

In “Paper route,” Hannah rides around her suburban neighborhood delivering newspapers and revels in her more feminine impulses. Her youthful challenges in conforming to gender norms are related in “Cursive,” “Sex ed,” “Entire of itself ” and “Perfect boy”—in such disparate subjects as handwriting, sex, a John Donne poem, and exemplary male behavior. However, in “To know,” she discovers that she is not alone in the world and seeks understanding about herself at a local library.

Part II

During her college years, Hannah struggles with her bifurcated existence in “Two cities,” but also encounters the joy of being perceived as she wishes in “Three words.” In “Close,” she has made the decision to undergo hormone therapy and briefly suffers its vertiginous effects before feeling at one with her own body. “Home for the holidays,” “A christmas story” and “Dear son” all occur around the Christmas season and relate Hannah’s growing distance to her family and her past, which is countered by an immediate connection with a stranger in a local café. In “Out of nowhere,” Hannah escapes a harrowing assault that prompts her to find a link to the larger trans community and end her self-imposed alienation. Reacting to the conflicting voices in her head, she finally resolves to escape in the fragment, “I go on to…”

Part III

“Norway.” In this extended aria, Hannah finds, in Nature, solitude, and self-reflection, the simple yet surprising equation that will help her achieve happiness.

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Cast

Jorell Williams

Hannah Before

At Seattle Opera in 2016/17: Hannah Before, As One
Hometown: Brentwood, NY

Jorell Williams makes his Seattle Opera debut with this production of As One. This summer he performed Moralès in Carmen at PORTopera and Escamillo in Carmen at Bay Music Festival, and he recently performed the role of Frediano/Ippolito in John Musto’s Bastianello at Rochester Lyric Opera and as a soloist with Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra for Marsalis’ Abyssinian Mass at Chautauqua Institution. Next year he will perform the role of Nardo in La finta giardinera at On-Site Opera and Atlanta Opera.

Last updated: September 2016

 

 

Jorell Williams

Hannah Before

Seattle Opera Debut

Taylor Raven

Hannah After

At Seattle Opera in 2016/17: Hannah After, As One
Hometown: Fayetteville, NC

This performance marks Taylor Raven’s Seattle Opera debut. This summer she performed scenes from Count Ory (Isolier), Dialogues of the Carmelites (Mère Marie), and Serse (Arsamene), among other roles, with San Francisco Opera’s Merola Opera Program. As an Emerging Artist at Virginia Opera, she created the role of Marian Anderson in Deep River: The Marian Anderson Journey. During the 2016/17 season, she will be a resident singer at Pittsburgh Opera, where she will perform Oronte in Riccardo Primo and Hannah After in As One.

Last updated: September 2016

Taylor Raven

Hannah After

Seattle Opera Debut

Laura Kaminsky

Composer

At Seattle Opera in 2016/17: As One
Hometown: New York, NY

Laura Kaminsky is a composer of opera, orchestra, and chamber works, and vocal and choral music. With the As One creative team, she has been commissioned to create Some Light Emerges for Houston Grand Opera and Today It Rains, inspired by the life of Georgia O’Keeffe, for San Francisco Opera’s Opera Parallèle. Currently composer-in-residence at American Opera Projects, Kaminsky is a member of the faculty in the School of the Arts/Conservatory of Music at Purchase College/SUNY, where she served as dean from 2004-2008. She was also Artistic Director of Symphony Space in New York City until 2014.

Last updated: September 2016

Laura Kaminsky

Composer

Seattle Opera Debut

Mark Campbell

Librettist

At Seattle Opera in 2016/17: As One
Hometown: New York, NY

Mark Campbell’s Silent Night, which premiered at Minnesota Opera in 2011, received the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Music. Other operas include Later the Same Evening, Volpone, The Manchurian Candidate, and The Shining. Campbell has received a Grammy nomination, the first Kleban Foundation Award for Lyricist, two Richard Rodgers Awards, a Jonathan Larson Award, a NYFA Playwriting Fellowship, and the first Dominic J. Pelliciotti Award. Premieres in 2017 include Dinner at Eight for Minnesota Opera, Some Light Emerges for Houston Grand Opera, Burke & Hare for Boston Lyric Opera, Elizabeth Cree for Opera Philadelphia, and The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs for Santa Fe Opera.

Last updated: September 2016

Mark Campbell

Librettist

Seattle Opera Debut

Kimberly Reed

Librettist

At Seattle Opera in 2016/17: As One

Kimberly Reed, filmmaker and librettist, has been featured on Oprah, CNN, NPR, and MSNBC. She is one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film.” A New York Foundation of the Arts Fellow, she has had residencies at Yaddo, Hermitage Artist Retreat, and Squaw Valley Community of Writers. Reed is collaborating again with Mark Campbell and Laura Kaminsky on Some Light Emerges for Houston Grand Opera. Her film Prodigal Sons premiered at the Telluride Film Festival and has been shown at more than 100 festivals and broadcast worldwide, garnering more than 14 awards. She is also working on Dark Money, a documentary about campaign finance reform.

Last updated: September 2016

Kimberly Reed

Librettist

Seattle Opera Debut

John Keene

Conductor

At Seattle Opera in 2016/17: As One
Hometown: Lancaster, PA

John Keene is Head of Music Staff and Chorusmaster at Seattle Opera, where he has also been Assistant Conductor for Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen. He previously held the same position at Florida Grand Opera. For San Francisco Opera, Keene conducted Western Opera Theater’s thirtieth anniversary national tour of The Barber of Seville. He also conducted many operas at LSU Opera, including Carlisle Floyd’s Willie Stark, which was releasedon DVD by Newport Classic. As accompanist and chamber musician, he has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, and throughout North America.

Last updated: September 2016

John Keene

Conductor

Seattle Opera Debut

L. Zane Jones

Director

At Seattle Opera in 2016/17: As One
Hometown: Vashon Island, WA

Actor, Director, and Teaching Artist L. Zane Jones serves as Artistic Director of the Seattle-based theater collective Civic Rep, where she recently directed Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar named Desire and The Two-Character Play. Jones was Artistic Director and Co-Founder of Workshop 360 in Los Angeles, where she directed Gum by Karen Hartman, Vinegar Tom by Caryl Churchill, and Betty’s Summer Vacation by Christopher Durang. An actor in film, television, and theater for more than 30 years in Chicago and Los Angeles, Jones currently teaches at the University of Washington School of Drama.

Last updated: September 2016 

L. Zane Jones

Director

Seattle Opera Debut

Melanie Taylor Burgess

Costume Designer

At Seattle Opera in 2016/17: As One
Hometown: Lewiston, ID

Costume Designer Melanie Taylor Burgess made her Seattle Opera debut with Elektra (2008) and returned for Attila (2012) and The Consul (2014). She has designed costumes for more than 160 productions at venues that include Seattle Rep, 5th Avenue Theatre, ACT, Intiman Theatre, The Village Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, Seattle Shakespeare Company, NCTC, Seattle Theatre Company, Strawberry Theatre Workshop, and Taproot Theatre.  She has also designed for the Guthrie, Cincinnati Playhouse, Tantrum Theater Ohio, and Hawaii Opera Theatre.  Melanie is on the faculty at Cornish College of the Arts. She received the Gregory Award for Outstanding Costume Design 2010.

Last updated: September 2016

Melanie Taylor Burgess

Costume Designer

G.W. Mercier

Set Designer

At Seattle Opera in 2016/17: As One

 G.W. (Skip) Mercier designed sets and costumes for Lincoln Center’s Juan Darien: A Carnival Mass, which received a Tony Nomination and two Drama Desk Nominations. At the Vineyard Theatre, Dream True and Bed and Sofa received two additional Drama Desk Nominations. Regional honors include two Bay Area Critics Awards for Outstanding Scenic Design for The Time of Your Life at ACT and Head of Passes at Berkeley Rep. He also received the Daryl Roth Creative Spirit Award for Outstanding Talent and Vision in Design. Mercier is a member of the Design Faculty in the University of Washington’s School of Drama.

Last updated: September 2016

G.W. Mercier

Set Designer

Seattle Opera Debut

Cast
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Production Sponsors

The Wallace Foundation
Annie Walters
Pride Foundation

Photo Washington State Archives, Puget Sound Branch