For the best browsing experience, please download a modern browser. Internet Explorer 8 is outdated and may result in errors.

Seattle Opera.

An American Dream

Aug. 21 & 23, 2015

Overview

World Premiere - Seattle Opera Commission

By Jack Perla
Libretto by Jessica Murphy Moo

PROVOCATIVE DRAMA WITH LOCAL CONNECTIONS. Treasured possessions become symbols of home in a Seattle Opera commission, part of the Belonging(s) project, inspired by true stories from our region’s history. This world premiere opera set during World War II explores the lives of two Puget Sound women: a Japanese American facing internment and a German Jewish immigrant preoccupied by those she left behind. Their struggles to maintain a sense of place in our region are given added resonance through moderated audience discussions bookending the opera.

In English with English subtitles | at McCaw Hall

Share with your friends on:

Back to Top

Synopsis

America, the 1940s

March 1942
A farmhouse on a Puget Sound island. An American veteran, Jim Crowley, and Eva, his new wife, have come to buy a home. A German Jew, Eva desperately wants her parents to leave Germany, where their lives are in danger. She hopes her family will find peace and sanctuary in this place so far from the war. Meanwhile, inside the home, a Japanese American family has heard that the FBI has been searching homes and arresting people of Japanese descent. The family burns their precious Japanese belongings, attempting to erase all ties to Japan in the hopes that they will avoid arrest.

Eva waits outside as Jim, knowing he has the upper hand, tries to get Makoto Kobayashi to sell the land for a fraction of what it is worth. The FBI arrives at the home and tells Makoto he is under arrest; the FBI found some old dynamite in the shed out back, and they say this contraband makes him a threat. Makoto decides, under the pressure of the situation, to sell the land to Jim. As the FBI agents take Makoto away, he and his teenage daughter, Setsuko, promise to meet at the farmhouse, the only home they know, after the war.

May 1942
Setsuko and her mother, Hiroko, have packed up the house. Setsuko holds her suitcase, ready to leave, when a postman delivers a letter. Setsuko sees that it is from Germany, for a woman named Eva. Angry that she is being forced to leave her home, the girl steals the letter.

A few weeks later
Jim and Eva move into their new home; they designate a room for Eva's parents. Jim tries to keep Eva's hopes up. Eva notices that small items have been left behind in the home: a piece of a record and a photograph. When she finds a beautiful Hina-Matsuri doll hidden beneath a floorboard, Eva asks Jim about the previous owners. Jim tells her that they were "Japs," sent to the internment camps. He tells her to throw away the doll, that it doesn't belong in a room for her parents. Eva defies Jim's wishes and hides the doll, promising to find its owner and return it at war's end.

May 1945
Jim and Eva hear an announcement on the radio of Germany's surrender. Eva, who has learned about the Kobayashi family and their whereabouts, writes to Setsuko, telling Setsuko she has something that belongs to her.

Later that month
While still incarcerated, Setsuko receives the letter. When her mother, who is gravely ill, inquires about the letter, Setsuko lies and explains that the letter is from her father, telling them to keep hope because the war is nearly done.

August 1945
Puget Sound Farmhouse. When a letter comes back to Eva from Setsuko, Jim intercepts it and tells Eva that Setsuko is not allowed in their home. President Truman announces the dropping of the atomic bomb.

September 1945
There is a knock on the door. It is Setsuko, returning to the home. Setsuko confronts Jim, reminding him that he coerced her family to sell their home for next to nothing. Eva asks Jim if this is true.

Jim tries to explain his actions to Eva, but she can't accept what he has done. She leaves the room to retrieve the doll she has promised to return to Setsuko. While she is gone, Jim confronts Setsuko, and Setsuko admits to another reason for coming. She is here to return Eva's letter. Eva returns to the room, and Setsuko gives her the letter. From the stolen letter, Eva learns of her parents' fate, and she collapses. Setsuko must finish reading the letter for her. Jim tries to comfort Eva. Setsuko's father arrives at the front door.

Read More

For Further Study

The Sakai Family of Bainbridge Island 
Film by Snow Productions 

Honor and Sacrifice: The Roy Matsumoto Story 
Fumiko Hayashida: The Woman Behind the Symbol 
Films by Stourwater Pictures 

The Belonging(s) Project

An American Dream is a new kind of opera—one whose story from the opera company’s community. Seattle Opera’s Belonging(s) Project, started in 2011, asked participants to respond to the question: “If you had to leave your home today and couldn’t return, what would you want to take with you?”

Learn More

Back to Top

Cast

D'Ana Lombard

Eva

At Seattle Opera in 2017/18: Eva Crowley, An American Dream

Soprano (Garden City South, NY)
D’Ana Lombard returns to Seattle to reprise the role of Eva in An American Dream. Recent performances include her debut at North Carolina Opera as Countess Almaviva in The Marriage of Figaro and Rosina in The Ghosts of Versailles and Mimì in La bohème at Wolf Trap Opera. She has been a member of the Houston Grand Opera Studio and the Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artists Program at Los Angeles Opera. Recent awards include first prize in the 2014 Eleanor McCollum Competition Concert of Arias, a 2015 Sara Tucker Study Grant, and the Second Prize Award from the Gerda Lissner Foundation in 2016. 


Last updated: August 2017

D'Ana Lombard

Eva

Seattle Opera Debut

Hae Ji Chang

Setsuko

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: Setsuko, An American Dream
Seattle Opera Debut

Soprano (Seoul, South Korea)

Hae Ji Chang makes her Seattle Opera debut creating the role of Setsuko. She has recently performed Pamina in Die Zauberflöte at San Jose Opera; Gilda in Rigoletto at PORTopera; and the roles of Crobyle in Thaïs, Frasquita in Carmen, and the First Lady in Die Zauberflöte at LA Opera. Additional credits include Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro at Aspen Opera Theater, Euridice in Orfeo ed Euridice at the New England Conservatory of Music, and the Zarzuela Prize at Plácido Domingo’s Operalia.. Upcoming engagements include Mimì in La bohème at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Marguerite in Faust with Seoul Metropolitan Opera.

Last updated: August 2015

Hae Ji Chang

Setsuko

Seattle Opera Debut

Nina Yoshida Nelsen

Hiroko Kobayashi

At Seattle Opera in 2017/18: Mama, Hiroko Kobayashi, An American Dream

Mezzo-Soprano (Santa Barbara, CA)
Nina Yoshida Nelsen returns to Seattle Opera after creating the role of Hiroko Kobayashi at the world premiere of An American Dream in 2015. She recently performed Suzuki in Madame Butterfly at Utah Opera and Atlanta Opera. Other recent roles include Khanh in the world premiere of Bound at Houston Grand Opera, the Secretary in The Consul at Opera Santa Barbara, Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors at Avery Fisher Hall, and Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro at Utah Opera. Upcoming engagements include Suzuki at Manitoba Opera and Mahler’s “Songs of a Wayfarer” with Grand Junction and Flagstaff Symphonies.

 

Nina Yoshida Nelsen

Hiroko Kobayashi

Seattle Opera Debut

Adam Lau

Makoto Kobayashi

At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: Ferrando, Il trovatore; Kōbun Chino Otogawa, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs

Hometown: San Francisco, CA
Seattle Opera Debut: Papa, Makoto Kobayashi, An American Dream (’15)
Previously at Seattle Opera: The Speaker, The Magic Flute (’17)
Recently: Figaro, The Marriage of Figaro (Lyric Opera of Kansas City); Mephistopheles, Damnation of Faust (Liverpool Philharmonic); Creonte, Medea (Wexford Festival)
Upcoming: Basilio, The Barber of Seville (Kentucky Opera); The Old Hebrew, Samson and Delilah (North Carolina Opera)

Last updated: December 2017

Adam Lau

Makoto Kobayashi

Seattle Opera Debut

Morgan Smith

Jim

At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: Paul, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs

Hometown: Cincinnati, OH
Seattle Opera Debut: Donald, Billy Budd (’01)
Previously at Seattle Opera: Jim Crowley, An American Dream (’15); Count Almaviva, The Marriage of Figaro (’16); Riccardo, I puritani (’08) 
Recently: Joseph De Rocher, Dead Man Walking (Kentucky Opera); Eugene Onegin, Eugene Onegin (Lyric Opera of Kansas City); Scarpia, Tosca (National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra)
Upcoming: Herman Broder, Enemies, A Love Story (Kentucky Opera); Tadeusz, The Passenger (Israeli Opera); Musiklehrer, Ariadne auf Naxos (Cincinnati Opera)

Last updated: July 2018

Morgan Smith

Jim

David S. Hogan

FBI Agent 1

At Seattle Opera in 2017/18: An American Dream

Actor (Seattle, WA)

David Hogan reprises the role of the FBI Agent in An American Dream. His previous Seattle Opera acting roles include Puck in the Young Artists production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, Ambrogio in The Barber of Seville, and a plainclothes police officer in The Consul. Other stage credits include King Henry in Henry V with the Seattle Shakespeare Company's Wooden O and Enzo in The Art of Racing in the Rain with Book-It. He is also an actor for the screen (Grimm, Z Nation, The Device) and a film producer (Paralytic) with Mighty Tripod Productions.

Last updated: August 2017

David S. Hogan

FBI Agent 1

Cast

Creative Team

Jack Perla

Composer

At Seattle Opera in 2017/18: An American Dream

Composer (San Francisco, CA)
Composer and pianist Jack Perla has been commissioned by Los Angeles Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Houston Grand Opera, Seattle Opera, and the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition. In addition to An American Dream, his recent work includes, Shalimar the Clown, an opera based on the novel by Salman Rushdie, for Opera Theater Saint Louis and Jonah and the Whale for Los Angeles Opera. He is also recipient of the Thelonious Monk Institute Jazz Composers Award. Perla remains active composing, performing, and recording jazz, chamber, and symphonic music. Enormous Changes, Jack’s third jazz recording, was released on Seattle-based Origin Records label in June 2015.

 

 

Jack Perla

Composer

Seattle Opera Debut

Jessica Murphy Moo

Librettist

At Seattle Opera in 2017/18: An American Dream

Librettist (Boston, MA)
Jessica Murphy Moo is a writer, editor, and teacher. An American Dream is her first libretto. Her fiction has appeared in The AtlanticImage, and Memorious. Her nonfiction has appeared in Poets & Writers Magazine and The Atlantic Online, among other publications. She has held teaching positions at Emerson College, Harvard University, Boston University, and Seattle Pacific University. She now teaches writing for the University of Washington’s Professional and Continuing Education program, and she is Seattle Opera’s communications editor. She was a 2016 fellow at Tapestry Opera’s Librettist Composer Laboratory Workshop.

 

Jessica Murphy Moo

Librettist

Seattle Opera Debut

Judith Yan

Conductor

At Seattle Opera in 2017/18: An American Dream

Conductor (Toronto, Canada)
Judith Yan is the Artistic Director of Guelph Symphony Orchestra (GSO) and Principal Conductor of Opera on the Avalon (OOTA). She has been Staff Conductor for San Francisco Opera, Canadian Opera Company, and National Ballet of Canada.  As a guest, she has conducted opera, ballet, and symphony in Australia, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Korea, Italy, New Zealand, Poland, and USA.  Her 2017/18 season includes Dead Man Walking and Tosca at OOTA, Hansel and Gretel and The Rite of Spring for GSO, Swan Lake at Korean National Ballet, Don Quixote and Dracula for West Australian Ballet, and Le Corsaire for Hong Kong Ballet.

Judith Yan

Conductor

Seattle Opera Debut

Peter Kazaras

Director

At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: The Turn of the Screw

Hometown: New York, NY
Seattle Opera Directing Debut: Norma (’03)
Previously at Seattle Opera: An American Dream (’15 and ’17); The Consul (’14); Falstaff (’10)
Recently: The Barber of Seville (Washington National Opera), The Thieving Magpie (Glimmerglass Festival); Der Ring des Polykrates (Dallas Opera)
Upcoming: The Ghosts of Versailles (Chautauqua); Lost Childhood (World Premiere at UCLA) 

Last updated: August 2018

Peter Kazaras

Director

Robert Schaub

Set Design

At Seattle Opera in 2016/17: The Magic Flute

Hometown: Seattle, WA
Seattle Opera Debut: The Magic Flute (’11)
Robert Schaub was Seattle Opera’s Technical Director for more than 25 years. He played a key role in the development and realization of designs for McCaw Hall. Schaub received a 2001 Eddy (Entertainment Design) award for his work on Seattle Opera’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, and he designed the sets for Nabucco and An American Dream during the summer of 2015.

Last updated: March 2017

Robert Schaub

Set Design

Robert Bonniol

Video Designer

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: Nabucco and An American Dream

MODE Studios, principal designer (Seattle, WA)

Robert Bonniol is a director and production designer. At Seattle Opera he designed projections for Parsifal in 2003 and the KeyArena simulcast of Madama Butterfly in 2012. Other opera credits include projection design of War and Peace at the Spoleto Festival in Italy, Frobisher for Calgary Opera, and Don Giovanni for Banff Centre. He designed the TED Conferences from 2010 to 2012, the MTV Music Awards, on tour for Lenny Kravitz and other performers, and massive scale projection mapping for Marvel Universe Live, a co-production of Marvel Studios, Walt Disney, and Feld Entertainment. 

Last updated: June 2015

Robert Bonniol

Video Designer

Video Design by Robert Bonniol, MODE Studios, principal designer and Travis Mouffe, associate designer

Deborah Trout

Costume Designer

At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: The Turn of the Screw

Hometown: Seattle, WA
Seattle Opera Debut: The Marriage of Figaro (’09)
Previously at Seattle Opera: Lucia di Lammermoor (’10); An American Dream (’15); Beatrice and Benedict (’18)
Recently: The Crucible and Mr. Burns – A Post Electric Play (ACT Theatre); The Hound of the Baskervilles (Seattle Repertory Theatre); Cyrano (Portland Center Stage); Native Gardens (Arizona Theatre Company)

Last updated: August 2018

Deborah Trout

Costume Designer

Connie Yun

Lighting Designer

At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: The Turn of the Screw

Hometown: East Lansing, MI
Seattle Opera Debut: Die Fledermaus (’06)
Previously at Seattle Opera: Beatrice and Benedict (’18); An American Dream (’17 and ’15); As One (’16); Tosca (’15)
Recently: La Cenerentola and Orfeo ed Eurydice (Portland Opera); Skylight (ACT Theatre)
Upcoming: The Magic Flute (Kentucky Opera); Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci (Madison Opera); The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (Seattle Children’s Theatre)

Last updated: August 2018

Connie Yun

Lighting Designer

Creative Team

Orchestra & Additional Artists

Orchestra

Violin I
Cordula Merks, Concertmaster

Violin II
Michael Miropolsky

Viola
Mara Gearman

Cello
Eric Han

Bass
Joseph Kaufman

Flute
Alexander Lipay

Oboe
Stefan Farkas

Clarinet
Laura Deluca

Bassoon
Seth Krimsky

Horn
Jeff Fair, Principal
John Karschney

Trumpet
James Ross

Percussion/Timpani
Mike Clark

Harp
Valerie Muzzolini Gordon

Piano
Thomas Bagwell

 

Personnel Manager
Scott Wilson

Assistant Personnel Manager
Keith Higgins

 

Rotating member of the string section are are listed alphabetically.
The Orchestra is composed of members of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra.

 

Actors

Justin Alley
Allan Armstrong
Tyler Johnson
Michael Patten
Ryan Spickard
Brendan Toner
Henry Walker

 

 

Orchestra & Additional Artists

Back to Top
Back to Top

PLAN YOUR VISIT

All performances take place at McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer Street, Seattle. Join our email list to receive personalized alerts with updates on traffic, dining, and parking for your specific performance, or choose a topic below to learn more.

DIRECTIONS & PARKING

SEATING CHART

DINING

Back to Top

Production Sponsors

True-Brown Foundation

Main Photo © Dorothea Lange. War Relocation Authority 1942-1945 | Photos © Philip Newton