Transgender Opera AS ONE to Open Des Moines Metro Opera's 46th Season
Des Moines Metro Opera opens its 46th Season on November 17 with As One, a one-act chamber opera for two voices and string quartet with music by Laura Kaminsky and libretto by Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed.
As part of Des Moines Metro Opera's 2nd Stages Series, an initiative committed to creating collaborative performances designed to engage audiences in creative spaces, As One will be produced in partnership with One Iowa and Transformations Iowa with performances at the Stoner Theater on November 17 and 18 at 7:30pm and on November 19 at 2:00pm.
Each performance will include a talk-back session, facilitated by One Iowa and Transformations Iowa, featuring reflections from LGBTQ Iowans and members of the cast and creative team. "We're thrilled that Des Moines Metro Opera has included an opera featuring a transgender protagonist in their repertoire this season," One Iowa Executive Director Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel said. "Representation of LGBTQ characters in all forms of media is crucial because it allows LGBTQ people to see themselves reflected in meaningful narratives and internalizes the fact that their stories matter. It also provides an opportunity for those outside the LGBTQ community to connect with and understand the life experiences of LGBTQ people. We're excited to work with Des Moines Metro Opera and Transformations Iowa to ensure the impact of these performances reaches far beyond the theater seats."
Members of the local transgender community will be involved both before and after the performances. "Transformations Iowa is looking forward to Des Moines Metro Opera's performance of As One," Transformations Iowa President Sophia Stone said. "We've been working with DMMO and One Iowa to help spread awareness of transgender issues and the stories of trans Iowans. As the trans community faces attacks from all directions, we hope everyone will come out to support us not only at As One but at the Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20th, a day on which we honor all those who have been killed by transphobia." A free performance on Thursday, November 16 will be offered to LGBTQ youth and members of the trans community.
Created in 2014 by American composer Laura Kaminsky and co-librettists Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed, As One tells the story of a transgender woman named Hannah. Over the course of 15 songs, the audience will experience Hannah's youthful challenges growing up in a small town, her struggles with family, her discovery of a larger LGBTQ community and her inspiring journey of becoming true to herself. Based in part by the life experience of award-winning filmmaker Kimberly Reed and her film "Prodigal Sons", As One's rich libretto, evocative melodies and lush harmonies make it a heartfelt and truly unforgettable work. "As One has become the most often produced new opera in America today with more than a dozen performances since its premiere in 2014 and many more scheduled this season alone. Its creators use humor, empathy and wit to convey the arc of a transgender life, and the quality and depth of the musical storytelling instantly make the work a very relatable, human story for everyone," said Michael Egel, DMMO's General and Artistic Director. "We are pleased to present the work's Midwestern premiere and to work in partnership with One Iowa and Transformations Iowa. This production will continue our efforts to demonstrate opera's power to address and build empathy around important and contemporary themes."
Sharing the role of Hannah are baritone John Moore, who was last seen at DMMO as the title character in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin in 2012, and mezzo-soprano Elise Quagliata, who recently sang the roles of Charlotte Malcom in A Little Night Music and María in María de Buenos Aires during the Company's 2017 Summer Festival. As One will be directed by Kristine McIntyre, who most recently directed DMMO's Billy Budd in 2017, and will be conducted by Michael Sakir, who conducted the Company's 2nd Stages production of Galileo Galilei at the Science Center in 2016. Adam Crinson, who has designed the sets for María de Buenos Aires, Soldier Songs and Galileo Galilei, will serve as the scenic designer for the production.
Tickets for As One are $40 and can be purchased online at desmoinesmetroopera.org or by calling the DMMO box office at 515-961-6221. As with all 2nd Stages Series performances in alternative venues, seating capacity is limited. The opera will be performed in English. The composer and librettists, Laura Kaminsky, Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed, will be featured in a to-be-announced special event and will also be attending the opening night performance. Des Moines Metro Opera will host a free screening of Kimberly Reed's film "Prodigal Sons" at the Fleur Cinema and Café on Sunday, November 12.