Monday, September 1, 2014

First Look At BAM's Transgender Opera Featuring Husband And Wife

Stage director Kenneth Cazan, librettist and filmmaker
Kimberly Reed, and performers Sasha Cooke and Kelly
Markgraf in rehearsal for As One.
(Photo: Stefano Giovannini/Brooklyn Daily)
"Opening minds is a two-person job. As One, a new chamber opera premiering at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Sept. 4, is pushing boundaries in more ways than one. Not only does it tell the story of a transgender character transitioning from male to female, but the role will be shared simultaneously by a male and a female singer. 'Occasionally an actor or singer shares a role with another across several performances, but I’ve never witnessed one where a male and female are asked to inhabit the same character,' said baritone Kelly Mackgraf, who will play one side of the lead role. The opera follows the character of Hannah from childhood to college through adulthood and hormone therapy. Hannah is concurrently portrayed by two parts — 'Hannah before' and 'Hannah after.' Through their songs and duets, the show explores Hannah’s inner life, as well as issues of transphobia and self-acceptance. 'The story is a simple treatment of the transgender story,' said Mackgraf, who plays 'Hannah before.' 'It looks at Hannah’s story through the most human lens — a being in search of their true self and the courage it takes to be that person.' 'Hannah after' will be played by Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke — who also happens to be Mackgraf’s wife. The pair said their close bond makes it easier for them to successfully embody the same character. 'Because we trust and know each other so well, I think the piece will benefit from our shared relationship and energy,' Cooke said. 'In a sense, two married people are two halves of one entity.'" [Source]

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