Bright Shiny Things Releases World Premiere Recording Of AS ONE: THE PIONEERING OPERA ABOUT A TRANSGENDER PERSON'S JOURNEY

Bright Shiny Things Releases World Premiere Recording Of AS ONE: THE PIONEERING OPERA ABOUT A TRANSGENDER PERSON'S JOURNEY

Bright Shiny Things commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising with the release of AS ONE [BSTC-0127, 1 CD], the original-cast first recording of the highly acclaimed 75-minute chamber opera for mezzo-soprano, baritone, and string quartet.

Commissioned by American Opera Projects, As One chronicles the experiences of a transgender person as she emerges into harmony with herself and the world around her. Created by the out LGBTQ-team of composer Laura Kaminsky and librettists Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed, with an original film by Reed-As One began its conquest of American stages at the Brooklyn Academy Of Music's Fisher Center in September 2014.

Since then, it has become the most frequently produced new opera in North America, with thirty productions in twenty states across the U.S. This May and June, New York City Opera and American Opera Projects are co-producing As One in its first Manhattan staging at Merkin Hall.

Inspired partially by Reed's experiences as a transgender woman, As One focuses on the self-discovery of its sole protagonist, portrayed by a baritone (Hannah before) and a mezzo-soprano (Hannah after), tracing her emergence in fifteen songs divided into three parts-from youth to college to adulthood.

After the opera's premiere at the Brooklyn Academy Of Music, Steven Jude Tietjen wrote in Opera News that it's "not just 'the transgender opera' but a piece that haunts and challenges its audience with questions about identity, authenticity, compassion and the human desire for self-love and peace."

And in Out magazine Brian Schaefer noted happily that "the success and beauty of As One is that it reveals epic emotions within an intimate frame. In doing so, it also reclaims the coming out story as a personal one that relies on no one's acceptance but our own." As the three creators assert in the CD booklet: "We believe one reason the opera has succeeded is the character of Hannah herself. Fallible, self-deprecating, and admittedly somewhat self-involved, Hannah's journey is one that audiences can relate to because she's very human. In telling her story, we eschewed a political agenda and instead focused on creating a character most people can identify with-and included a healthy dose of humor."

The new recording, made over three days last September at the Russell/Wanlass Performance Hall of Utah State University in Logan under the supervision of multiple-Grammy-winning producer Judith Sherman, reunites the opera's original performers: baritone Kelly Markgraf and two-time Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke (husband and wife offstage) as the Before and After voices of Hannah, the Fry Street Quartet (Robert Waters and Rebecca McFaul, violins; Bradley Ottesen, viola; and Anne Francis-Bayless, cello), and conductor Steven Osgood. Reviewing the Brooklyn premiere, The New York Times's David Allen praised Markgraf's "power and clarity" and Cooke's "knowing wit and vocal lushness," along with "Ms. Kaminsky's propulsive score for the Fry Street Quartet." And Parterre Box's John Yohalem heartily commended Kaminsky's setting of the Campbell/Reed texts: "Her most striking virtue, to an opera lover, is that she knows how to write for the voice, permitting beautiful voices to demonstrate their beauties, hitting emotional chords without torturing the instrument as 'modern' composers of a bygone era so often did." Fortunately, those two beautiful voices he referenced have been captured on the new recording.



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