Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Local history fuels world premiere at McCaw Hall

Nina Yoshida Nelsen, Adam Lau and Hae Ji Chang play the Kobayashi family who is forcibly removed and incarcerated during World War II. In reality, this happened to more than 120,000 West Coast Japanese Americans during the 1940s.  Brandon Patoc photo

When Seattle Opera’s brand-new opera, An American Dream, premieres this August, Japanese Americans will see the story of their community coming to life onstage.

Locally sourced personal histories such as the wartime incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans, many of whom were from the Seattle area, have provided inspiration for this world premiere. Composed by Jack Perla with libretto by Jessica Murphy Moo, An American Dream is a deeply human and hauntingly relevant work that speaks to the universal immigrant experience. In this story, the fate of two families unexpectedly becomes bound together following the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the heartbreak of World War II. When the Kobayashi family (Nina Yoshida Nelsen, Adam Lau, and Hae Ji Chang) is forced to leave their home on an island in Puget Sound, Eva (D’Ana Lombard), a German Jew and her husband, Jim (Morgan Smith), an American veteran, move in. As Eva awaits news from family in Germany, she slowly pieces together the history of her new home.

The evening begins with a dramatic pre-performance experience in the McCaw Hall lobby beginning an hour before curtain. Viewers will be able to see, hear, and experience what their region was like during World War II through documentaries, exhibits, and personal testimonies from people who were affected by the mass removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans.

Seattle Opera in the community: Nina Yoshida Nelsen who plays the mother in An American Dream, performed for residents at Nikkei Concerns, where many of the residents were personally affected by the mass incarceration and removal of Japanese Americans. This was especially meaningful for Nelsen, a yonsei or fourth-generation Japanese American whose grandmother, a Seattle native, was also incarcerated during the war. 

During the opera, innovative staging and seating will bring the audience even closer to the action onstage. Following the performance, viewers are invited to stay for a 30-minute post-show discussion featuring members of the creative team, artists and former incarcerees. 

An American Dream Community Events:
Community Preview at Wing Luke Museum 
6:30 p.m. on June 30, 2015 
Free preview featuring Community Programs Manager Nick Malinowski, librettist Jessica Murphy Moo and a Community Partner representing the Japanese American community. 
Tickets & Information:

Preview Performance at Bainbridge Performing Arts 
7:30 p.m. on August 13, 2015 
Final dress rehearsal open to the public featuring the cast and orchestra. 
Tickets by donation
More Information:

Events related to An American Dream received funding from OPERA America’s Opera Fund. 

The creative duo behind An American Dream: Jack Perla, composer with Jessica Murphy Moo, librettist.
Brandon Patoc photo 
7 p.m., Friday, August 21
2 p.m. Sunday, August 23

Approximate Running Time: 2 hours (including a pre-performance event and a post-performance discussion). 

In English with English captions
Marion Oliver McCaw Hall

Performance Schedule:
7:00-8:00 p.m. (1:30-2:30 p.m. Sunday) Pre-show activities including documentaries, presentations with people who lived in our region during WWII, and historical exhibits
8:00 p.m. (2:30 p.m. Sunday) Performance begins
9:30 p.m. (4:00 p.m. Sunday) Post-performance audience and artist discussion

Production sponsor: True-Brown Foundation

An American Dream Community Partners: