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Friday, November 18, 2016

(OUTview NW) RE-view: Seattle Opera's As One is a triumph and provides discussion and education about the Transgender community!

by MK Scott

Get this, an opera with only two performers, with no elaborate set or costumes, in a smaller venue in the Central District. The fact that the characters (one male and one female) are two sides of one transgender character (Hannah) makes this a rare treat. Seattle Opera has finally brought this groundbreaking 2014 production to share with their Seattle audience.

As One by Laura Kaminsky is a chamber opera that made its debut in 2014 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music as part of American Opera Projects. What makes this production so unique is the performers are people of color.

We meet 'Hannah-before' (played by baritone Jorell Williams) with 'Hannah-after' (played by mezzo-soprano Taylor Raven) in the shadows as Williams expresses himself and struggles with his gender identity.

The most important set piece is the frame of the full-length mirror as Raven appears to Williams with an attitude and humor that feels right and so begins a journey of self-discovery.

There are about 15 songs and if you hear a Christmas carol or two, you are not hearing things. I am convinced I did hear the melody of 'O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,' and I guess that was Kaminsky's intention.

In the opera's climactic scene, Hannah's 'after' transformation finally leads to joy, when she tenderly flirts for the first time with a man or the worst of times when she is attacked. The most moving moment comes when Williams recites the names of victims of hate crimes and adds how they were killed. 'Hannah-after' is terrified but is comforted knowing that 'Hannah-before' is still there looking out for her As One whole person.

It was great to hear from the Trans community (Mitchell C. Hunter and Breanna Anderson) before the production with more of a discussion afterwards.

Also Printed in the Seattle Gay News

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