Last night we had the wonderful experience of seeing “As One,” a chamber opera about a transgendered person’s voyage of self-discovery. As a chamber opera, the instrumental music was provided by a string quartet (our resident Fry Street Quartet), the single singing role was shared by a mezzo-soprano and a baritone, and the drama was supplemented with moving images, photographs, and minimalistic stage direction.
The performance was gripping from the very first moment. The libretto was finely crafted, but rolled out as casually as a conversation over coffee. The baritone and mezzo-soprano gracefully paired together and separated just as twin identities play back and forth and collide within a single soul. The quartet provided a continuous landscape of emotions that included joy, loneliness, longing, conflict, and bewilderment – at times I forgot they were playing at all. We were transported into another person’s life. The imagery provided everything we needed for setting and context, and made the story feel very real. We laughed, cried, and fell in love. The entire production showed the telltale brilliance of making it all look easy – I mean the assembling of all the elements of the performance; living the life itself, of course, must have been anything but easy.
It was such a delight to see such a performance in our little remote town, and to meet the wonderful woman whose life the story is based on, and who co-wrote the libretto and provided the imagery. And – of course! – we’re fiercely proud of our own Fry Street Quartet and their willingness to explore and experiment and bring to us the many ways that music can engage us.