“As One” – a chamber opera

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.

About Huenemann

Curious about the ways humans use their minds and hearts to distract themselves from the meaninglessness of life.
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2 Responses to “As One” – a chamber opera

  1. Dennis Hermanson says:

    Beautiful review. We here in the Triangle of North Carolina had a similar experience with the work detailed below:
    Faculty Recital: World Premiere of Daniel Thomas Davis’ Family Secrets
    March 29 2015 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm | Free
    Family Secrets is a new dramatic song cycle conceived and commissioned by UNC soprano Andrea Edith Moore, composed by Daniel Thomas Davis, and featuring new texts written by seven nationally acclaimed Southern authors: Jeffery Beam, Allan Gurganus, Randall Kenan, Michael Malone, Frances Mayes, Lee Smith, and Daniel Wallace. This new work for soprano and chamber ensemble will include the presence of multi-media elements from photographer Elizabeth Matheson and American Folk Art Buildings selected from the unparalleled collection of W. Steven Burke and Randy Campbell.

    Family Secrets is made possible by the University of North Carolina Performing Arts Special Activities Fund (PASAF); an Ella Fountain Pratt Emerging Artist Grant from the Durham Arts Council with support from the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources, as well as the generous support of private donors.

    The performance of art song recitals has never been lost, though new ones perhaps has grown fewer over time.

    We are indeed indebted to those musical talents who strive to maintain classical standards and develop themes and dramatic responses to the world around them, and the world of memory, as Mahler did some one hundred years ago, and Schubert did, in over 600 wonderful songs.

    Thanks for your review.

    Dennis Hermanson
    Hillsborough, NC


  2. Huenemann says:

    Sounds fascinating, Dennis!


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