Baritone turns mezzo in Seattle’s transgender opera

Baritone turns mezzo in Seattle’s transgender opera


norman lebrecht

September 27, 2016

Seattle Opera’s upcoming As One, follows a person in gender transition.

From the press release:

Award winning filmmaker and librettist Kimberly Reed (Prodigal Sons), and award winning librettist Mark Campbell(Silent Night) created the powerful story for As One. Laura Kaminsky, a former chair of the music department at Seattle’s Cornish College of the Arts, composed the piece, which premiered in 2014 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. In this 90-minute opera, the single protagonist, Hannah, is portrayed by two singers—a baritone and a mezzo-soprano. Hannah before is sung by Jorell Williams, praised by The New York Times as “magnificent” and “rich toned.” Hannah after will be sung by Taylor Raven, a rising star currently in residency with Pittsburgh Opera.

Throughout the course of 15 songs, the audience will experience Hannah’s challenges growing up in a small town on the West coast, her quest for knowledge and understanding, and her discovery of the trans community. The opera embraces humor and heartbreaking realities within this personal narrative. While Hannah before is faced with violence, Hannah after names those who did not survive similar attacks. At the end of the opera, the protagonist finds peace, as well as her own self-acceptance and love, in rural Norway. 

(Looks like we missed the world premiere at BAM, below.)




  • Ned Zeppelin says:

    A paradisical evening for the social engineering branch of the local Cultural Marx Society. If they have separate sex bathrooms at the theatre, then watch out.

  • Marc says:

    Opera Colorado will be staging this work in early March. I’ll be there. Not sure what point Mr. Zeppelin is making in his smarmy comment, other than to look like an insensitive clod. The transgender issue has moved front and center in this country and elsewhere. It’s time we examined it, learned to understand it so we can discuss its implications like grown-ups. Probably asking too much…

    • John says:

      That’s correct. This issue is not only front and center, but without doubt the most significant, earth moving, take off your hat and shout hallelujah topic to ever cross the news wires of this or any other nation. Islamic vermin committing acts of terror? More people on welfare and food stamps in generations? Debt soaring into the stratosphere? No sir, those are simply incidental outlier, filler stories to the truly earth moving accounts of mentally ill people altering their biology in a desperate attempt to gain attention.

  • William Safford says:

    Are there any singers out there right now who are capable both in the baritone and the falsetto mezzo range? I used to play for a conductor who could sing credibly as both a baritone and a countertenor.