FULL SWANN (Tamar-kali) Short Opera New York 2023
Information on the Performance
- Work Title: SWANN
- Composer: Tamar-kali
- Libretto: Carl Hancock Rux
- Venue & Opera Company: New York City
- Recorded: 2023
- Type: Movie
- Singers: Marcus Zebra, Tislarm Bouie, KB Lash, Kenneth Alston Jr.
- Orchestra: Instrumental Ensemble
- Stage Director: James Blaszko
- Stage Designer: Delaney Green
- Costume Designer: Rebecca Bailey
- Lighting Designer: Paige Seber
Information about the Recording
- Published by: Catapult Opera
- Date Published: 2023
- Format: Streaming
- Quality Video: 4 Audio:4
- Subtitles: yessubs, ensubs, gensubs
- Video Recording from: YouTube     FULL VIDEO
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON THIS PERFORMANCE
Neal Goren, Founder and Artistic Director:
When Tamar-kali and I brainstormed about the shape this commissioned piece would take, she proposed composing an aria based on William Dorsey Swann, an important historical figure sadly unknown to me at that time. Born into slavery in 1860, Swann came to be the first self-identified “queen of drag” in the US. He organized drag balls in Washington, DC in the latter part of the 19th century, and his was the first documented arrest for female impersonation. Swann was also the first American on record to pursue legal action to defend the right of LGBTQ people to gather.
Tamar-kali and librettist Carl Hancock Rux present two world views to us simultaneously: one, a joyful party hosted by Swann, with his sentiments spoken by a rich baritone voice; and the other, the Voice of Justice, the arresting officer, is hauntingly sung by a countertenor. Though the two world views are unreconcilable, here they coexist. Tamar-kali envisions this aria as the seed of an opera. I look forward to hearing it in its entirety. The music is both touching and compelling.
The video of the aria was conceived and directed by visionary stage director James Blaszko. As you will see, it evokes the historical period of its subject while referencing our own, allowing Swann to speak through the ages. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.