The transgender and nonbinary cast of mezzo soprano Tona Brown and baritone Rahze Chetham will perform the role of Hannah

LOWELL, Mass. /Massachusetts Newswire/ — Lowell Chamber Orchestra is proud to present “As One” on Saturday, November 20, 2021, 7:30 p.m., at Middlesex Community College. The critically acclaimed, 75-minute chamber opera created by composer Laura Kaminsky and librettists Kimberly Reed and Mark Campbell with film by Ms. Reed, has had nearly 50 productions around the world and, according to OPERA America, is the most produced contemporary opera in North America.

Tona Brown (left) and Rahze Cheatham (right)
In “As One,” two voices-Hannah after and Hannah before-share the part of a sole transgender protagonist. Fifteen songs comprise the three-part narrative; with empathy and humor, they trace Hannah’s experiences from her youth in a small town to her college years-and finally traveling alone to a different country, where she realizes some truths about herself.

For the first time in the opera’s history, “As One” will be performed by an entirely gender-expansive cast: mezzo-soprano Tona Brown and baritone Rahzé Cheatham will play “Hannah after” and “Hannah before,” respectively. Further, the work will be performed on the Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day that commemorates violence against the transgender community.

Says Ms. Brown: “‘As One’ is the beginning of a revolution in opera, an artform that has never acknowledged the lives of transgender people. ‘As One’ is teaching the world that you can do an opera featuring the stories of transgender and gender non conforming people successfully, and it will open the door for so many young opera singers who gave up on their dreams to sing because they didn’t think a career in opera was possible!

“Hannah’s story is a story of struggle, self discovery and triumph against an oppressive society and anyone can relate to that even if they don’t know much about transgender people. For the first time in history transgender people can see themselves represented on the stage of an OPERA! But what makes this production with the Lowell Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Orlando Cela even more powerful is that two people of color who are transgender and gender non conforming are singing the roles about the life of a transgender person!

“To my knowledge this has never been done! This performance will go down in history! My hope is that other composers and conductors will see the success of ‘As One’ and not only want to add this opera to the list of contemporary operas to be performed, but I hope composers become inspired to tell more stories like this one and request the talents of transgender and gender non comforming singers to portray the characters.”

Orlando Cela, music director for Lowell Chamber Orchestra, will conduct with stage direction by Em Russell.

Like all Lowell Chamber Orchestra concerts, the concert is free of charge, but donations are kindly requested. Audiences must show proof of vaccination upon entry and remain masked during the entirety of the opera.

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“As One”

Saturday, November 20, 7:30 p.m.

Richard and Nancy Donahue Family Academic Arts Center

Middlesex Community College

240 Central Street, Lowell, MA

Presented by Middlesex Community College “A World of Music” Concert Series

Sponsored by the Greater Lowell Community Foundation, and Parma Recordings


“As One forces you to think, simultaneously challenging preconceptions and inspiring empathy.” – The New York Times

“Its universality is key to As One’s becoming the hottest new American opera of recent years. It challenges us to ponder questions of authenticity, identity, compassion and self-love. And it does so without preachiness.” – The Chicago Tribune

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