In August 2019, Seattle Opera presented Verdi’s Rigoletto, a story in which powerful men behave badly while society enables them. Recent years have brought an increasing awareness of the pervasiveness of misogyny and sexual abuse in our society, as well as the importance of elevating women’s voices. Verdi's sobering opera continues to illuminate this reality almost 170 years after it was composed. This Community Conversation hosted a dialogue between feminist directors working in Seattle, and was led by Judy Tsou, a musicologist who studies the intersection of race and gender in opera. What role do the arts play in changing a culture of gender-based violence, and how can storytelling change this paradigm? What role do audiences play in changing the culture? What are the limits and opportunities of works of art like Rigoletto, and how do we engage with these works today?
Kathy Hsieh, award-winning actor, writer and director, and Cultural Partnerships and Grants Manager in the City of Seattle Office of Arts & Culture. She has most recently performed the role of the Nurse at Seattle Shakespeare’s all-female Wooden O production of Romeo and Juliet.
Kelly Kitchens is an award winning stage director including a three time nominated and two time recipient of the Gregory Falls Award for Outstanding Director. She is the Co-Artistic Director at Seattle Public Theater and a Guest Lecturer at The University of Washington. She recently directed Seattle Opera’s chamber opera production O+E as well as several of Seattle Opera’s touring productions.
Judy Tsou, Head Emeritus of the University of Washington Music Library and a musicologist who focuses on the role of gender and race in opera.