Seattle Opera opened their run of As One last Friday in the iconic Washington Hall and the glowing reviews followed immediately after continuing a string of positive attention on the hit chamber opera by composer Laura Kaminsky and librettists Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed that was commissioned and premiered by American Opera Projects. As One depicts the experiences of its sole transgender protagonist, Hannah, as she endeavors to resolve the discord between her Self and the outside world.
“No opera, to my knowledge, has told the story of a trans person as either a central or subsidiary character, but novelty alone wouldn’t be enough to carry As One had not that story been framed with such expert and thoughtful craft.” – Gavin Borchert of Seattle Weekly
Gavin Borchert of Seattle Weekly calls As One “a gift… to opera companies hoping to reach untapped audiences who may be more drawn by an examination of here-and-now issues than by vengeful gods or scheming soubrettes” and its immense popularity backs up that statement.
In a time where it is rare for a new opera to ever get a second production, Seattle Opera’s As One is the sixth production of the opera including AOP’s 2014 world premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Three new productions have already been announced for 2017 at Pittsburgh Opera, Opera Colorado, and Long Beach Opera. (And we’ll have more to tell you about very soon!) According to the national service organization OPERA America, by the end of 2017, As One will have received more new productions in the three years since its premiere than any other contemporary American opera.
“The opera’s success is due in part to the talent at the heart of the playbill,” posits Rich Smith of Seattle publication The Stranger. “Another part of the show’s success might be due to its portability.”
Smith made the painful, but honest, assessment that As One is “an evening of heart-rending/heart-lifting opera that will make you think you actually like opera.”
Longtime AOP baritone Jorell Williams (Hannah before) and mezzo-soprano Taylor Raven (Hannah after) comprised As One’s first-ever African-American cast in Seattle Opera’s production. Melinda Bargreen of the Seattle Times called them “passionate, powerful performers” and stated, “Laura Kaminsky’s mainly minimalist score, performed brilliantly by the Saint Helens String Quartet, chugs busily along, with some beautiful lyrical moments.”
“The 2014 chamber opera “As One” has a power all its own. It is the power of intimate revelation, a close encounter in a small gem of a hall where the two singing actors are so near that they can almost touch the audience. And they do touch the audience — with the emotional impact of an affecting story about a child born into the wrong body. …the finale is as uplifting as any operatic ending could be.” – Melinda Bargreen of the Seattle Times
Gavin Borchert of Seattle Weekly says, “composer Laura Kaminsky seems to have made every possible right choice to maximize the impact of Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed’s libretto” which he praised for its somberness, pathos, horror, and wit.
“As One, both inspiring and groundbreaking, innovative yet relatable, is built to travel, and deserves to.” – Gavin Borchert of Seattle Weekly
The final Seattle Opera performance will be held this Saturday. At least for now, we hope.
“Don’t miss it.” – City Arts Online (Seattle)
Press Clippings for Seattle Opera production of AS ONE:
November 16, 2016 – SEATTLE WEEKLY
Opera profile: “From Seattle Opera, A Trans Person’s Path to Self-Reconciliation”
November 14, 2016 – CITY ARTS ONLINE (SEATTLE)
Opera review: “Seattle Opera’s ‘As One'”
November 12, 2016 – THE SEATTLE TIMES
Opera profile: “‘As One’ tells a transgender story with power, passion”
November 11, 2016 – THE STRANGER (SEATTLE)
Opera profile: “As One Transcends the Trump Blues”
November 7, 2016 – KUOW 94.9 FM (SEATTLE)
Opera profile: “Introducing trans identity to the Seattle Opera”