Music & Concept by Laura Kaminsky
Libretto by Mark Campbell and Laura Kaminsky
Film by Kimberly Reed
Hannah knows there are things about her that society says she must hide…the thrill of a wearing a blouse, her expressive penmanship, other impulses that society says are wrong. Then one day, she hears the word that describes who she is. The real word. The magic word. Take the journey with Hannah from a her youth in a small town, through college and finally to a place where she learns to accept herself for who she is.
Transgender rights is a hot button topic in today’s news. As One strips the issue bare to one human being’s personal and emotional story with a beautiful score illuminated by empathy and humor. Two voices, a baritone and a mezzo-soprano, share the sole protagonist role in a 75-minute intimate chamber opera featuring the Hausmann Quartet. Stay for Act II, a talk-back with the cast and the creators of the opera, including Kimberly Reed, who made the renowned documentary, Prodigal Sons.
In “Paper route,” Hannah rides around her suburban neighborhood delivering newspapers and revels in her more feminine impulses. Her youthful challenges in conforming to gender norms are related in “Cursive,” “Sex ed,” “Entire of itself ” and “Perfect boy”—in such disparate subjects as handwriting, sex, a John Donne poem, and exemplary male behavior. However, in “To know,” she discovers that she is not alone in the world and seeks understanding about herself at a local library.
During her college years, Hannah struggles with her bifurcated existence in “Two cities,” but also encounters the joy of being perceived as she wishes in “Three words.” In “Close,” she has made the decision to undergo hormone therapy and briefly suffers its vertiginous effects before feeling at one with her own body. “Home for the holidays,” “A christmas story” and “Dear son” all occur around the Christmas season and relate Hannah’s growing distance to her family and her past, which is countered by an immediate connection with a stranger in a local café. In “Out of nowhere,” Hannah escapes a harrowing assault that prompts her to find a link to the larger trans community and end her self-imposed alienation. Reacting to the conflicting voices in her head, she finally resolves to escape in the fragment, “I go on to…”
“Norway.” In this extended aria, Hannah finds, in Nature, solitude, and self-reflection, the simple yet surprising equation that will help her achieve happiness.