Thursday, May 25, 2023

Composer Huang Ruo and librettist Bao-Long Chu on Bound

Composer Huang Ruo and librettist Bao-Long Chu’s opera Bound premiered at Houston Grand Opera in 2014. Bound will have its West Coast premiere at Seattle Opera June 9–18, with Huang Ruo conducting. The composer-librettist team recently spoke with Seattle Opera to discuss the inspiration for their riveting new work.

Monday, May 15, 2023

Looking at La traviata through a sex-positive lens

Briq House, Moonyeka and Gabrielle Nomura Gainor discuss Verdi’s famous heroine and new narratives for sex work, pleasure, and liberation in 2023.

Moonyeka, Gabrielle Nomura Gainor and Briq House.

The first year that La traviata played to audiences in 1853, Verdi was able to pull off a great feat. The Italian composer had manipulated a mid-nineteenth century European audience into sympathizing with Violetta—a woman who, despite being a member of high society, was a sex worker—a person who made a living through transactional relationships with wealthy men. La traviata means “the fallen woman,” or, more literally, "the woman who has been led astray."

Now, 170 years later—the oppressive structures governing women and femmes are still in play. What’s different are the new and more varied narratives surrounding sex workers, pleasure seekers, and women who strive to be “sempre libera” (always free) like Violetta.

Friday, April 28, 2023

A Conversation with Naomi André

Seattle Opera Scholar in Residence

Dr. Naomi André at the 2019 Community Conversation “Black Representation in the Arts.” © Sunny Martini.

Seattle Opera appointed its first Scholar in Residence, musicologist Naomi André, back in 2019. In that role, Professor André has written program essays, given Opera Talks, and appeared on panels in our Community Conversations series. Next week, in conjunction with the opening of La traviata, Professor André will lead a new, two-part Opera Class on the works of Giuseppe Verdi. Seattle Opera recently sat down with Professor André to learn more about her time as Scholar in Residence, what audiences can expect from her upcoming class, and why it’s important to analyze the art we love.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Stage director Desdemona Chiang on Bound

Desdemona Chiang is a Taiwanese-born American director and writer based in Seattle, Wash., and Ashland, Oreg. She works in a variety of genres, including new plays, Shakespeare, and musicals. Chiang is known for her visceral, no-nonsense approach to theatre, with her distinct point of view as an immigrant and Asian American woman and an interest in using storytelling to spark social discourse. Chiang will direct Bound at Seattle Opera, June 9–18, 2023.

Monday, April 3, 2023

Some Recollections On Directing La Traviata

By Francesca Zambello

In my opinion, La traviata is just about perfect, musically and dramatically. There are some operas I never tire of and and this is one of them. I am always happy to open the score and study the words and the music again and again.

We expect to see singers and conductors revisit works multiple times, but this is less often the case with a director – she is more likely to create “her” Traviata, or Magic Flute, or Butterfly, making only minor adjustments as the production is revived in different houses and with different casts. It’s less common for a director to start over with a piece. But I’ve reimagined Traviata in houses ranging from Skylight Opera Theatre (where we billed it Lady of the Camellias, 1988) to Bordeaux (1998) to Sydney (2011) to the Bolshoi (2013) and now here.

Friday, March 31, 2023

Get to know La traviata’s award-winning cast

Joo Won Kang as Dandini in 2019's Cinderella. © Sunny Marini.

Seattle Opera’s upcoming La traviata features a star-studded, international cast with impressive resumes. Learn more about recent awards won by our singers, and be sure not to miss your chance to hear them in action when La traviata opens in May!

Friday, March 3, 2023

Praise for A Thousand Splendid Suns

John Moore (Rasheed) and Karin Mushegain (Mariam) in A Thousand Splendid Suns. © Sunny Martini

Haunting and beautiful, the story and music merge as one in this formidable show.” Broadway World

Friday, February 17, 2023

The Human Fascination with Forbidden Love and Unrequited Desire

Image from The Heritage Museum, University of Michigan

By Humaira Ghilzai, Afghanistan Cultural Consultant

The story of Layla and Majnun is a classic Arab love story that has been told and retold for centuries. Based on the real-life love affair between Qays ibn al-Mulawwah and Layla bint Mahdi, the story follows two young lovers who lived during the 7th century in the Arabian Peninsula. Qays falls deeply in love with Layla, but is unable to marry her due to objections of Layla's family. He becomes consumed by his love for Layla and wanders the bazaars singing, dancing and reciting poetry which praises Layla’s beauty. His outward expression of his admiration and love for Layla earns him the nickname Majnun, "madman."

I pass by this town, the town of Layla
And I kiss this wall and that wall
It’s not Love of the town that has enraptured my heart
But of the One who dwells within this town

–Qays ibn al-Mulawwah

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Director’s Statement by Roya Sadat

Roya Sadat, Stage Director of A Thousand Splendid Suns; © Farzana Wahidy

Widely recognized as Afghanistan’s first female film and television producer during the post-Taliban era, Roya Sadat is the winner of more than 20 international film awards, including the 2021 Kim Dae-jung Nobel Peace Film Award and the 2018 International Women of Courage Award presented by the United States Department of State. Sadat was featured among the BBC’s 100 Inspiring and Influential Women for 2021, and her three films – A Letter to the President (’17), Playing the Taar (’08), and Three Dots (’03) – have been invited to more than 60 international film festivals. A Letter to the President was selected as the official entry from Afghanistan for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards. In addition to her feature films, she has produced eight documentary films, three television programs, and a music video.

February 25th could have been a euphoric day for me, a performance after which to return to my homeland and share the success of a monumental accomplishment with my countrymen. Fate, alas, transformed my sentiments of personal joy and pride to those of duty and responsibility. Directing A Thousand Splendid Suns at the Seattle Opera became an austere obligation owed to the women of Afghanistan.

Monday, February 6, 2023

How You Can Help Afghans Here And Abroad

© Bloomberg News

Our partners at Sahar Education have compiled a comprehensive list of resources to support Afghanistan during this time of crisis. Read more about the crisis, learn how to use your voice in the political process, and help with relief efforts both in Afghanistan and here in Washington.

Help Now

Local organizations working on the crisis

For years, numerous individuals and organizations have welcomed Afghanistan refugees to Washington State with open arms. These dedicated volunteers and professionals are aiding new arrivals with food and shelter, clothing and toiletries, health care and education, as well as employment and immigration assistance. You can also help welcome our new friends, families, and neighbors by volunteering and donating to these organizations: