University of Hartford "H" Magazine - Winter 2019

University of Hartford

When the University of Hartford was incorporated just over 50 years ago by business and community leaders, they envisioned a center of education and culture for Greater Hartford. Read more...

WWUH FCC On Line Public File


Persons with disabilities who wish to access the WWUH Public File may contact John Ramsey at:

Visit WWUH on Facebook    Follow WWUH on Twitter

Sunday Afternoon at the Opera - Kaminsky: As One; Offenbach: The Island of Tulipatan

06/30/2024 1:00 pm
06/30/2024 4:30 pm


Sunday Afternoon at the Opera host Keith Brown writes:

I like to designate the last Sunday in June as Stonewall Sunday, referring to the Stonewall Inn gay bar and the gay riot that took place in Greenwich Village on the last weekend in June, 1969. The Stonewall Rebellion in New York City gave birth to the gay liberation movement in the United States and worldwide, and to so much of the history of the struggle for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights that would follow. On Stonewall Sunday I like to program lyric theater music by LGBT or queer composers or performers or on some gay-related theme.

This Stonewall Sunday of 2024 I present back-to-back two short operas that deal with the trans part of the equation, the first one serious in nature, the second one a gender-bending comedy. First comes Laura Kaminsky's As One (2014), a chamber opera for two singers, male and female, who are "as one" in one human personality named Hannah. Baritone Kelly Markgraf is Hannah before transition, mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke is Hannah after her transition into her new gender identity. The string players of the Fry Street Quartet back the singers in a three-part cycle of fifteen song sequences. As One traces Hannah's progression from her youth in a small Midwestern town to her college years on the West Coast and finally to the Arctic coast of Norway, where she experiences a revelation about herself. As One was commissioned and developed by American Opera Projects. American composer Laura Kaminsky (b.1956) has served on the faculty of the Boston Conservatory at Berklee, and is in a same-sex marriage relationship. Along with its top-reviewed 2019 CD recording for Bright Shiny Things, Kaminsky's chamber opera is one of the most performed works of its kind worldwide. Many new productions of it are now very much non-binary when it comes to the singers.

There are precedents in Western music history for a "trans opera." On Sunday, June 18, 2000 I presented a Swedish Sterling Records CD recording of excerpts from Wilhelm Stenhammar's Tirfing (1898), which has a leading character who could be described as female-to-male transgender--and a Viking swordsman at that! Jacques Offenbach's The Island of Tulipatan (1868) is a gay little burlesque of a French operetta in one act. It received its first English language recording by LOONY, or Light Opera of New York, made live-in-performance at New York City's Theater 80 in 2017. The translation of the French libretto is in entirely idiomatic modern American English. On the nonexistent island of the title a prince becomes a princess and a princess turns into a prince. This Offenbach comic rarity is an absolute hoot! Tyson Deaton conducts the little pit orchestra and a cast of five singers. Albany Records released The Island of Tulipatan on a single compact disc. I last presented it on Stonewall Sunday, June 24, 2018.