Bronx Arts Ensemble Performs Riverdalian Laura Kaminsky’s Chamber Opera “As One” About a Transgender Woman, Plus Music by Schumann, Barber, and Dowland
(BRONX, NY) Bronx Arts Ensemble (BAE) will open its 44th season on Sunday, October 23 at 2 pm at the Diacou residence at 4530 Delafield Ave with a thought-provoking program that includes two scenes from Riverdale composer Laura Kaminsky’s chamber opera, As One. The work depicts the experiences of its transgender protagonist, Hannah, sung by Mezzo-Soprano Blythe Gaissert, as she tries to resolve the discord between herself and the outside world. Ms. Gaissert is a resident of the Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights. A string quartet of artists from the Bronx Arts Ensemble accompanies the singer: violinists Jorge Avila and Francisca Mendoza, violist Veronica Salas, and cellist Eliana Mendoza. Kaminsky will attend the concert, which also includes music by John Dowland: Two Laments: Go Crystal Tears and Flow My Tears (1597); Samuel Barber: Dover Beach, Op. 3 (1935); and Robert Schumann: String Quartet #2 in F Major, Op. 41 (1842). Tickets to the concert are $32 in advance at: http://bronxartsensemble.org/events/$40 at the door.
Laura Kaminsky had been following the state-by-state decisions about same-sex marriage and was struck by an article about a New Jersey family where the husband was transitioning after many years of marriage. The family wished to remain intact, but state law would no longer consider the couple married. “What has to be given up in order to be yourself? This is the basis for an opera!” thought Kaminsky, who is Composer-in-Residence at American Opera Projects, faculty member in the School of the Arts/Conservatory of Music at Purchase College/SUNY, and former Director of Music and Theatre Programs at The New School.
Kaminsky worked with Kimberly Reed, producer of Prodigal Son, a documentary film about transitioning, and co-librettist, Mark Campbell. Campbell, Kaminsky, and Reed are now on their third collaboration, this time for Houston Grand Opera. Mezzo-soprano Blythe Gaissert has been working with Kaminsky since the opera’s inception, singing the very first draft.
Kaminsky explained that the protagonist is like each of us, struggling to fit in, to figure out who she is, to relate to her family and friends, and to become a happy person. In A Christmas Story, one of the two scenes from the opera on the BAE concert, Kaminsky shows that, “Everyone has to at least once not go home for Christmas, in order to figure things out.”
For more information about:
Laura Kaminsky, http://www.laurakaminsky.com
Bronx Arts Ensemble, http://bronxartsensemble.org
As One, http://aopopera.org/