Tickets On Sale Today For Cerise Jacobs' I AM A DREAMER WHO NO LONGER DREAMS
Tickets go on sale today, May 15, for White Snake Projects' I Am a Dreamer Who No Longer Dreams, the newest opera from creator and librettist Cerise Jacobs, premiering September 20-22 on the Robert J. Orchard Stage of Boston's Emerson Paramount Theater. Composed by Jorge Sosa, the opera explores immigration, dislocation, and transformation in America. In conjunction with the premiere, White Snake Projects has launched the new multi-year community engagement initiative SING OUT STRONG, designed to foster the creation of new songs on themes arising from the company's mainstage operas. Also in the works is a collaboration between White Snake Projects and Juventas New Music Ensemble, a Boston-based incubator for promising musical pioneers that has had a season-long focus on American voices, perfectly dovetailing with the opera and the SING OUT STRONG initiative. The two organizations partnered earlier this month on Juventas's "Voices of America" concert, an evening of new music that shared stories of immigrants and refugees and included a special preview of excerpts from the opera. Tickets for I Am a Dreamer Who No Longer Dreams can be purchased here.
Directed by Elena Araoz and conducted by Maria Sensi Sellner, I Am a Dreamer Who No Longer Dreams tells the story of an undocumented Mexican immigrant, Rosa, a "dreamer" who is waiting in jail before being deported, and the relationship she develops with her court-appointed attorney, Singa, an ethnically Chinese immigrant from Indonesia. The cast was carefully chosen to reflect the ethnicities of the characters and to bring to the project a wide variety of perspectives on the immigrant experience. Mezzo-soprano Carla López-Speziale-recognized for her "beautiful, warm voice with a secure and soft top and a powerful low register" (Basler Landschaftszeitung)-sings the role of Rosa, with soprano Helen Zhibing Huang, who participated in the development of Jacobs's previous projects REV. 23 and Gilgamesh, as Singa. Kirsten Chambers puts her "arresting, gleaming, soprano" in the service of the three remaining characters: Mother, Gangster and Prosecutor. Also central to the opera are the voices of children. At a time when the plight of immigrant children has become increasingly politicized, Dreamer allows the voices of the children themselves to be heard, as a commentary on and counterpoint to the struggles of the adults around them. Isis Contreras Perez portrays Rosa as a child, and Amy Li is the child Singa.
Mexican-born composer Jorge Sosa is a current resident of New York and Chairperson of the Music Department at Molloy College. He works in a wide range of styles, from electronic music to opera, with eclectic influences that include folk and traditional music from around the globe, chant and early vocal polyphony, Afro-Latin rhythms, and jazz harmonies. ICON magazine recently characterized his work as "not music to accompany afternoon tea with Mom; it's more along the lines of sending your consciousness on the Cosmic Turnpike where the exit ramps are never permanent. Eerie, haunting, dreamlike, at times nightmarish-and highly recommended."
The mission of White Snake Projects to integrate original opera with social activism leads the company to a variety of community relationships, which in the case of Dreamer have been with immigrant advocacy groups. SING OUT STRONG: Immigrant Voices has partnered with the Immigrant Learning Center (ILC), which provides free, year-round English classes to immigrant and refugee adults in Greater Boston, and, through its Public Education Institute and Institute for Immigration Research, informs the wider public about the economic and social contributions of immigrants in the United States. Immigrant Voices is matching new or first-generation immigrant writers who live in Massachusetts with composers who are also new or first-generation immigrants, or who strongly identify with the immigrant experience. The resulting songs will be presented both throughout the community and to mainstage audiences, bridging the gulf that typically exists between a company's operatic productions and its community and educational outreach activities.
Three venues around Boston are slated for free public performances of Immigrant Voices during the month of August: Villa Victoria, developed in the early 1970s in a predominantly Puerto Rican section of the South End; the Pao Performing Arts Center, opened in 2017 as an adjunct to the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center; and the Podcast Garage in Allston, dedicated to supporting the work of local audio producers and storytellers. The intent is to precede each performance with a panel discussion on immigration convened with the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA). At the Podcast Garage, the panel discussion will take place on a live podcast, followed by an outdoor concert in nearby arts hub Zone 3. Finally, Immigrant Voices will serve as a prologue to I Am a Dreamer Who No Longer Dreams on the Robert J. Orchard Stage of Boston's Emerson Paramount Theater.
Last season's production of the video game opera PermaDeath added to the consistent track record of sensational, critically acclaimed productions that Jacobs and White Snake Projects have developed in Boston. The Boston Classical Review praised Jacobs's "slick libretto" that "tells a convincing and engaging tale of friendship and loss." Opera News found the opera "an exciting new work brimming with new ideas and possibilities," declaring that "a powerful synergy arises from combining videogame animation with opera" and finding Dan Visconti's score "physical, infectious, even saucy." Calling PermaDeath "a vehicle for inventive music and staging," the Boston Musical Intelligencer added that "Visconti's setting of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnet 43... is a standalone masterpiece." Highlights from the world premiere of PermaDeath can be seen here.