Wednesday, March 24, 2021

The story of Jonathan Dove's Flight

Tina (Karen Vuong) and Bill (Joshua Kohl). Philip Newton photo
Full of intense drama, humor, pathos, anguish—and profound beauty—Flight was written in 1998 by composer Jonathan Dove and librettist April De Angelis for the Glyndebourne Festival. The work has been performed and is much beloved all over the world. Seattle Opera's April 2021 presentation is both Flight’s Seattle premiere, and the first time it’s been reimagined for film. Learn more about the characters and story below.


Refugee has been living in the airport for weeks. He cannot leave the airport because he does not have a passport or other documents to allow him to enter the country legally.

 is an omniscient presence at the airport who sees everything going on. 

Bill and Tina are a married couple going on holiday to try to rediscover romance in their relationship. 

Randall Scotting (Refugee). Philip Newton photo

Older Woman is waiting for a young man she met in Mallorca, her fiancé.

Immigration Officer has been searching for the Refugee, who is constantly dodging the authorities.

Stewardess and Steward
, when not serving the customers, enjoy a vibrant physical relationship.

Minskman is an Eastern European diplomat who is moving for an assignment.

Minskwoman, the diplomat's wife, is heavily pregnant.

The Older Woman (Margaret Gawrysiak). Philip Newton photo

Act I
In an airport terminal, the Controller sits in her tower, observing a Refugee who has been living there for weeks. People start to arrive for their flights: a married couple, Bill and Tina, are going on holiday to rediscover romance the Older Woman is meeting a young man whom she met on holiday; the Steward and Stewardess go about their business— some of the time. Another couple arrives, almost late for their flight to Minsk, Belarus to emigrate; the Minskwoman is pregnant. At the last moment, she refuses to board the plane and the Minskman leaves without her. The Refugee offers her a magic stone to comfort her. The travelers are preparing to depart when the Controller announces that, because of storms, flights are indefinitely delayed.

Stewardess (Sarah Larsen) and Steward (Joseph Lattanzi). Philip Newton photo
Act II
That night, a storm rages. Everyone tries to sleep—either in pairs or alone. Fascinated by his magic stone, the characters secretly approach the Refugee. He gives them all what each thinks is a unique stone and they make wishes. Bill is restless and seeks out the Stewardess, but finds the Steward instead: they go off to explore the control tower. The women and the Refugee decide to get drunk, and, as they become more garrulous, the women discover that each of them has ‘the’ stone. They vent their anger, with dire consequences for the Refugee. The consequences of Bill and the Steward’s explorations are no less cataclysmic.

Aubrey Allicock (Minskman) and Karin Mushegain (Minskwoman). Philip Newton photo

Flights resume the next morning. The Minskman returns, unable to face his separation. Bill and the Steward have a surprise for their partners. Tina has a nasty surprise for Bill. The Refugee has a surprise for the women. The Minskwoman has a surprise for everyone. When the Refugee tells his story, even the Immigration Officer has a surprising reaction. Flights are announced and under the Controller’s watchful eye, the airport returns to normal.

Immigration Officer (Damien Geter). Philip Newton photo
Flight streams April 23–25 for $35. (Subscriber Early Access Days begin April 3). Tickets & info at

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