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Seattle Opera.

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 2020/21: Jorell Williams in Recital 

Hometown: Brentwood, NY
Seattle Opera Debut: Hannah Before, As One (’16)
Previously at Seattle Opera: Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker’s Yardbird ('20); Homecoming Soldier, The Falling & The Rising ('19)
Recently: Schaunard, La bohème (Finger Lakes Opera); Hannah Before, As One (New York City Opera); Jake, Porgy and Bess (Budapesti Nyári Fesztivál)
Upcoming: Don Giovanni, Don Giovanni (Opera Columbus); Marcello, La bohème (Kentucky Opera)

Last Updated: September 2020

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 2018/19: The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs

Hometown: New York, NY
Mark Campbell’s work as a librettist is at the forefront of the contemporary opera scene in this country, with five new operas premiering in 2017 alone. His best-know work is Silent Night, which received the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Music. Other operas include Later the Same Evening, The Manchurian Candidate, Bastianello/Lucretia, Volpone, As One (produced at Seattle Opera in 2016), The Shining,and Elizabeth Cree. 

Last updated: December 2017

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