Pittsburgh Opera Presents As One: The Story of a Transgender Person Named Hannah

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Pittsburgh Opera continues its 78th season with the Pennsylvania premiere of As One, a chamber opera for two voices and string quartet, by composer Laura Kaminsky and colibrettists Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed, at Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters February 18th – 26th, 2017.

As One tells the story of the transgender protagonist, Hannah, as she tries to reconcile the discord between herself and the outside world. With humor and empathy, As One traces 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.

As One will star Pittsburgh Opera’s Resident Artists Brian Vu as ‘Hannah before’ and Taylor Raven as ‘Hannah after’. It will be performed in the intimate environs of Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters.

On stage February 18, 21, 24 & 26, 2017, As One is described by the New York Classical Review as “everything that we hope for in contemporary opera: topical, poignant, daring, and beautifully written.” Most tickets are $40 and are available online.

 

  1. The vast majority of new operas are never performed again after their premiere. As One has already been performed by nine different opera companies throughout the United States and beyond since its 2014 premiere.
  2. As One is based very loosely on some of the experiences of Kimberly Reed. Kimberly produced and directed the film Prodigal Sons. The movie shows Kimberly returning home to a small town in Montana for her high school reunion, and her attempts at reconciliation with her long-estranged adopted brother, Marc. Kimberly discussed her experiences and the movie on Oprah in 2013.
  3. Taylor Raven, the Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist who is singing the role of Hannah after, sang the role with Seattle Opera in November.
  4. As One Co-librettist Mark Campbell is involved with not one, but two of Pittsburgh Opera’s 2016-17 operas. He also contributed additional lyrics and dramaturgical advice to Pittsburgh Opera’s world premiere of The Summer King – the Josh Gibson Story, which features music by Daniel Sonenberg.

 

From the libretto available for free download at American Opera Projects’ website:

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. For additional information, videos, musical samples, and cast biographies, visit pittsburghopera.org/One.

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