Thursday, May 13, 2021

Opera conductors unite for dialogue on race and gender

Maestros left from right: Judith Yan, Alondra de la Parra, Viswa Subbaraman, Kazem Abdullah. 

Free Seattle Opera panel discussion; noon – 1:30 p.m., Thursday, June 3. Online via Zoom; register at  

Seattle Opera announces the next panel in its Community Conversations series: “The View from the Pit: Maestros on Race and Gender in Opera.” Panelists include Maestros Kazem Abdullah, Alondra de la Parra, Viswa Subbaraman, and Judith Yan with moderator Alejandra Valarino Boyer, Seattle Opera’s Director of Programs and Partnerships.

Conductors unify performers, oversee rehearsals, make interpretive decisions on the score, and shape the music audiences hear at every performance. They also possess a unique vantage point on opera’s unfolding conversations surrounding race and gender in the 21st century.

“What are the challenges for conductors and artists of color in opera right now? What creates joy, community, and a sense of belonging? How do conductors see themselves as both storytellers and change-makers in their art form? These are some of the questions we’re excited to explore with our esteemed panel on June 3,” Valarino Boyer said.

Most of the panelists have previously conducted with Seattle Opera: Judith Yan led the orchestra for An American Dream (2015 and 2017), which told the story of a Japanese American family facing incarceration during World War II. Viswa Subbaraman conducted Flight filmed at The Museum of Flight in spring 2021, and Kazem Abdullah is currently in Seattle helping to create a new Tosca being filmed at St. James Cathedral. Alondra de la Parra, previously Music Director of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra (2017– 2019), is an official Cultural Ambassador of Mexico.

Seattle Opera’s Community Conversations aim to amplify voices in opera that have historically not been heard in the art form. The series has included events such as Crescendo for Racial Justice in Opera (June 2020), Black Representation in the Arts (February 2020), Black Representation in Opera (2019), Cultural Appropriation and Madame Butterfly (2017), Feminist Storytelling in the #MeToo Age (2019), and Decolonizing Allure: Women Artists of Color in Conversation (2019). To learn more and watch videos from prior conversations, go to


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