Thursday, February 2, 2023

From the Author Khaled Hosseini

Khaled Hossini, author of A Thousand Splendid Suns

It has always been my hope that A Thousand Splendid Suns would become a relic of the past. Through the story of Mariam and Laila, the novel chronicles the struggles and hopes of Afghan women over decades of violence and political turmoil. The 1990’s, in particular, were punishing years for Afghan women. In the civil war of 1992-1996—a brutal conflict that saw swaths of Kabul demolished and claimed some 50,000 lives—women bore the brunt of suffering. Women were targeted and used as spoils of war. They were abducted, sexually assaulted, forced into marriage with Mujahideen militiamen, and sold into prostitution rings. The brutality ended in 1996, when the Taliban drove out the fractured Mujahideen. But peace and stability came at a crushing cost—especially to women.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Afghan literature beyond A Thousand Splendid Suns

Seattle Opera’s upcoming world premiere of A Thousand Splendid Suns is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Afghan American author Khaled Hosseini. But A Thousand Splendid Suns only scratches the surface of the breadth of literature written by Afghan and Afghan American authors. Deepen your appreciation of Afghanistan’s rich tradition of art and literature with this selection of recent works.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Support Local Afghan Women Artisans

Refugee and immigrant women have the highest unemployment rate in the country. Language barriers and cultural differences create challenges for women to discover how to apply their skills and create work opportunities. Seattle’s Refugee Artisan Initiative (RAI) partners with immigrant women to foster an inclusive, prosperous transition to the U.S. through artisan skills training in zero-waste and small-batch manufacturing. We are humbled to be working with Refugee Artisan Initiative in conjunction with our upcoming world premiere of A Thousand Splendid Suns.

Monday, December 12, 2022

Seattle Opera appoints Shannon Rolbiecki Director of Development

Seattle Opera has selected Shannon Rolbiecki, a seasoned development professional and Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE), as its new Director of Development. As a classically trained singer and opera performer, Rolbiecki brings a rich musical background to Seattle Opera. She begins in the role on December 12, 2022.

Monday, December 5, 2022


Widely acclaimed as one of the best lyric tenors of our time, Yonghoon Lee has been praised worldwide by audiences and critics. From the Royal Opera House Covent Garden to Bayerishe Staatsoper to Opera Australia, he has captured the hearts of many with his portrayals of Calaf in Turandot, Luigi in Il tabarro (The Cloak) and Rodolfo in La bohème. In this interview he shares how he started singing, career doubts, and what inspired him to continue performing.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

SAMSON & DELILAH: Why in concert?

Up next, Seattle Opera presents the beautiful, evocative music Saint-Saëns composed to tell the story of Samson et Dalila. But why present it as a concert, instead of an opera complete with scenery, costumes, hair and make-up, and special effects? Concert presentations are actually in keeping with Samson and Delilah’s performance history ever since the 1860s, when the work first started taking shape, for several reasons:

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

New Podcast: A Buddhist Perspective on Tristan and Isolde

Mary Elizabeth Williams (Isolde) in Tristan and Isolde. © Sunny Martini

Seattle Opera subscriber Dr. Chris Rebholz, a practicing Buddhist, discusses Wagner’s Tristan with Seattle Opera Dramaturg Jonathan Dean. Fascinated by Buddhism when he wrote Tristan and Isolde, Wagner created an opera all about compassion, karma, desire, enlightenment, and the difficulty of reconciling both conventional and ultimate reality (aka “Day vs. Night”). Dr. Rebholz teaches adult classes on Buddhism at Seattle’s Sakya Monastery of Tibetan Buddhism. A clinical and forensic psychologist, in private practice, who specializes in evaluating neurodiverse adults for healthcare and the courts, she teaches corporate seminars on neurodiversity as well as continuing legal education on issues of mental health and the law.


Monday, November 21, 2022

How You Can Support Afghan Refugees

© Bloomberg News
After the early withdrawal of US troops and the takeover of the Afghan government by the Taliban in August 2021, the US evacuated 80,000 Afghans who were at risk for their roles in helping the US and NATO missions in Afghanistan. Many of these evacuees were Special Immigration Visa candidates who should have been evacuated months earlier. Among the evacuees were human rights defenders, women in government, political activists, artists, and others under threat by the new government. Unfortunately, Afghan evacuees could lose their right to live in the US because they entered the country under the Humanitarian Parole process. Humanitarian Parole gives only temporary permission to stay US and does not provide a path to legal permanent residency or citizenship.

Afghans with this status have two years of eligibility and must pursue other ways of attaining permanent immigration, such as asylum. Asylum is a lengthy and complex process, and often requires specialized legal help. Also complicating the matter, many Afghans forced to flee their country were advised to destroy identification documents, professional certificates, and other valuable information that could serve as evidence needed to support an asylum claim.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Converge Media's TraeAnna Holiday on storytelling, accessibility, and learning to love opera

TraeAnna Holiday is an Emmy Award-winning artist, activist, and community leader. She is a founding member and media director of King County Equity Now, an advocacy and policy non-profit committed to realizing measurable markers of equity for Washington’s Black community. Weekday mornings at 11am she hosts The Day with Trae on Converge Media, where she aims to highlight Black brilliance from across the Puget Sound. TraeAnna recently sat down with Seattle Opera to discuss her newfound love of opera and the ways the industry can make itself more accessible to the Black community.

Friday, November 4, 2022

New Podcast: MARY ELIZABETH WILLIAMS Discusses Isolde

American soprano Mary Elizabeth Williams, beloved in Seattle for performances such as Tosca, Abigaille in Nabucco, and Serena in Porgy and Bess, just made her role debut as Isolde, the first time she’s ever sung a Wagner opera. She discussed the character, the singing, and her two-and-a-half year journey towards this achievement with Seattle Opera Dramaturg Jonathan Dean. This podcast features clips of Williams singing Tosca (conducted by Julian Kovatchev) and “Pace, pace, mio Dio” from La forza del destino (conducted by Carlo Montanaro), as well as Amber Wagner singing Brangäne in Tristan und Isolde (conducted by Jordan de Souza).
Mary Elizabeth Williams rehearsing Tristan und Isolde with Stefan Vinke. © Sunny Martini