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A Story of Transformation

Have you ever attended a concert, a play, a musical, a ballet, an opera or an art show and been totally amazed by the sheer beauty of the experience? Or have you ever attended an artistic event and been challenged to look at your world in a different way? Sometimes a work of art can generate both reactions.

I recently attended the Pittsburgh Opera‘s production of a new American opera, As One, that featured two of their Resident Artists. As One tells the story of Hannah, a transgender protagonist, who makes the transformational journey to happiness while navigating a world that does not always understand her. This opera has the potential to challenge and even change the listener.

Composer Laura Kaminsky wrote for two singers, a baritone and a mezzo-soprano, who play Hannah “Before” (baritone) and Hannah “After” (mezzo). They are accompanied by a string quartet which creates an intimate musical setting. The viola often has solo lines which represent the soul of Hannah, according to the composer. While the two singers represent the inner conflict of Hannah as they sing in solos and duets, eventually the female voice emerges as the only voice. The baritone joins in on the final note of the piece, sung in unison—as one.

The performance I attended was opening night. Before the opera began, the audience was invited to a forum with Kaminsky, the two librettists Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed, and Christopher Hahn, the General Director of Pittsburgh Opera. I was so moved by the performance that I posted my remarks on Pittsburgh Opera’s Facebook page and received a “thank you” directly from Laura Kaminsky. I admit I had an opera fan reaction—the composer herself read my post!!

To learn more about the opera, check out the score/libretto from the Music, Film and Audio Department at CLP – Main. Listen to online excerpts and read interviews with Laura Kaminsky in Opera News and DC Theatre Scene. Pittsburgh Opera also posted video clips from their production.

In the spirit of Hannah, who goes to her local library to learn more about herself, you can browse our rich collection of LGBTQ items including transgender resources. CLP – Main also hosts the Teen Gender & Sexuality Alliance and the Lavender Book Club.

As the media spotlight continues to shine on the transgender community, artists respond by creating works that can inform and inspire. Seeing this opera was a transformative experience for me, and I look forward to more works of art that may do the same.


Missed the live performance?

Check out the As One libretto!

Rebekah is a professional pianist who enjoys all kinds of music, reading about neuroscience and exploring the Pittsburgh food scene.  You can find her working in the Music, Film and Audio Department.

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