‘Ground-breaking’ show will be performed one night only by Opera Steamboat
The opera “As One” will be performed in Steamboat for one night only at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 24, at the Strings Music Pavilion. Presented by Opera Steamboat, the powerful coming of age story is one of the most produced contemporary operas in the world, telling the story of a transgender woman’s personal evolution.
“Even though a central theme is about a gender transition, the heart of the story is the universality of every person’s inner journey … figuring out who we are and where we fit in the world. Every single one of us goes through this,” said Opera Steamboat’s Board of Trustees Vice Chair Melissa Hampton.
With original music and concept by Laura Kaminsky and libretto by Kimberly Reed and Mark Campbell, “As One” is a chamber opera in which two voices, Hannah Before (baritone) and Hannah After (mezzo soprano) share the part of a sole transgender protagonist. The story follows Hannah’s experience from her youth in a small town to her college years, culminating in a solo trip outside of the country where she is able to embrace her own truth.
Opera Steamboat’s production is unique in that the director, conductor and singers are all members of the transgender community.
The part of Hannah Before will be played by Lucas Bouk who is returning to Steamboat once again after performing here as a young artist in Cosi fan Tutte. Bouk has twice played Hannah After as a mezzo soprano. Bouk said, “My gender journey is different from Hannah’s, but I identify with many parts of their story. Just like Hannah, I was raised believing that there were only two genders. I spent most of my childhood trying to be perfect so no one would know that I was different. I couldn’t pinpoint what the difference was, but I finally figured it out after much searching in 2017 when I came out as a trans-man. I medically transitioned during the 2020 pandemic with testosterone and am now performing as a baritone with my new voice. I’m really happy.”
The part of Hannah After will be played by Nikola Printz, a mezzo soprano, dance enthusiast and trapeze artist who sings in multiple genres from jazz and cabaret, to opera. This role encompasses Hannah’s character after they’ve gone through life and more of their transition, but Printz noted, this production changed the role of Hannah slightly, to be non-binary like Printz.
“The idea of the before/after dichotomy is gone because for many trans people, there is no end,” Printz said. “It is an ongoing discovery of one’s self. I feel like that take is much more satisfying because regardless if you are trans or cis, you should never stop investigating and letting yourself grow and change.”
What: Opera Steamboat presents As One
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24
Where: Strings Music Pavilion
Alexandra Enyart will conduct this opera for her ninth time on Saturday.
“The story is about getting to be a full person and getting to be your full self,” Enyart said. “The score supports this through a beautiful, lush string quartet sound which is so well put together in this style of American minimalism.”
Enyart, Bouk and Printz all agree that the opera provides a universal message to any community.
“In every community there are people who are living these lives,” said Enyart. “But it’s so universal because really, everybody is living these lives in some way – we’re all told to be something. This is a story where someone is buried away, and they have to dig themselves out of that and that message is really impactful.”
Sophie Dingle is a contributing writer for the Steamboat Pilot & Today. She can be reached through the editor.
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