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Seattle Opera.

An American Dream

Touching. Emotional. True.

Aug. 21 & 23, 2015

Overview

World Premiere - Seattle Opera Commission

By Jack Perla
Libretto by Jessica Murphy Moo

PROVOCATIVE DRAMA WITH LOCAL CONNECTIONS. Treasured possessions become symbols of home in a Seattle Opera commission, part of the Belonging(s) project, inspired by true stories from our region’s history. This world premiere opera set during World War II explores the lives of two Puget Sound women: a Japanese American facing internment and a German Jewish immigrant preoccupied by those she left behind. Their struggles to maintain a sense of place in our region are given added resonance through moderated audience discussions bookending the opera.

Two performances only – seating is extremely limited for this special world premiere event. Available as single tickets or as an add-on to your subscription. Prime Orchestra $125; Orchestra $80; Prime Gallery Upper $80; Gallery $50.

In English with English subtitles | at McCaw Hall

An American Dream Experience

  • 6:00 PM (12:30 PM Sunday): Doors Open

  • 6:00-7:45 PM (12:30-2:15 PM Sunday): Documentary presentations in the Lecture Hall

  • 6:30-8:00 PM (1:00-2:30 PM Sunday): Pre-show activities including documentaries, presentations with people who lived in our region during WWII, and historical exhibits in the main lobby

  • 7:30 PM (2:00 PM Sunday): Auditorium Doors Open
  • 8:00 PM (2:30 PM Sunday): Performance Begins
  • 9:30 PM (4:00 PM Sunday): Post performance audience and artist discussion

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Synopsis

America, the 1940s

March 1942
A farmhouse on a Puget Sound island. An American veteran, Jim Crowley, and Eva, his new wife, have come to buy a home. A German Jew, Eva desperately wants her parents to leave Germany, where their lives are in danger. She hopes her family will find peace and sanctuary in this place so far from the war. Meanwhile, inside the home, a Japanese American family has heard that the FBI has been searching homes and arresting people of Japanese descent. The family burns their precious Japanese belongings, attempting to erase all ties to Japan in the hopes that they will avoid arrest.

Eva waits outside as Jim, knowing he has the upper hand, tries to get Makoto Kobayashi to sell the land for a fraction of what it is worth. The FBI arrives at the home and tells Makoto he is under arrest; the FBI found some old dynamite in the shed out back, and they say this contraband makes him a threat. Makoto decides, under the pressure of the situation, to sell the land to Jim. As the FBI agents take Makoto away, he and his teenage daughter, Setsuko, promise to meet at the farmhouse, the only home they know, after the war.

May 1942
Setsuko and her mother, Hiroko, have packed up the house. Setsuko holds her suitcase, ready to leave, when a postman delivers a letter. Setsuko sees that it is from Germany, for a woman named Eva. Angry that she is being forced to leave her home, the girl steals the letter.

A few weeks later
Jim and Eva move into their new home; they designate a room for Eva's parents. Jim tries to keep Eva's hopes up. Eva notices that small items have been left behind in the home: a piece of a record and a photograph. When she finds a beautiful Hina-Matsuri doll hidden beneath a floorboard, Eva asks Jim about the previous owners. Jim tells her that they were "Japs," sent to the internment camps. He tells her to throw away the doll, that it doesn't belong in a room for her parents. Eva defies Jim's wishes and hides the doll, promising to find its owner and return it at war's end.

May 1945
Jim and Eva hear an announcement on the radio of Germany's surrender. Eva, who has learned about the Kobayashi family and their whereabouts, writes to Setsuko, telling Setsuko she has something that belongs to her.

Later that month
While still incarcerated, Setsuko receives the letter. When her mother, who is gravely ill, inquires about the letter, Setsuko lies and explains that the letter is from her father, telling them to keep hope because the war is nearly done.

August 1945
Puget Sound Farmhouse. When a letter comes back to Eva from Setsuko, Jim intercepts it and tells Eva that Setsuko is not allowed in their home. President Truman announces the dropping of the atomic bomb.

September 1945
There is a knock on the door. It is Setsuko, returning to the home. Setsuko confronts Jim, reminding him that he coerced her family to sell their home for next to nothing. Eva asks Jim if this is true.

Jim tries to explain his actions to Eva, but she can't accept what he has done. She leaves the room to retrieve the doll she has promised to return to Setsuko. While she is gone, Jim confronts Setsuko, and Setsuko admits to another reason for coming. She is here to return Eva's letter. Eva returns to the room, and Setsuko gives her the letter. From the stolen letter, Eva learns of her parents' fate, and she collapses. Setsuko must finish reading the letter for her. Jim tries to comfort Eva. Setsuko's father arrives at the front door.

Read More

For Further Study

The Sakai Family of Bainbridge Island 
Film by Snow Productions 

Honor and Sacrifice: The Roy Matsumoto Story 
Fumiko Hayashida: The Woman Behind the Symbol 
Films by Stourwater Pictures 

The Belonging(s) Project

An American Dream is a new kind of opera—one whose story from the opera company’s community. Seattle Opera’s Belonging(s) Project, started in 2011, asked participants to respond to the question: “If you had to leave your home today and couldn’t return, what would you want to take with you?”

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Cast

D'Ana Lombard

Eva

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: Eva Crowley, An American Dream
Seattle Opera Debut

Soprano (Garden City South, NY)

D’Ana Lombard makes her Seattle Opera debut with these performances. During the 2014/15 season, Lombard joined the Houston Grand Opera Studio, performing Kate Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly and the First Lady in The Magic Flute. This summer she joined Wolf Trap Opera as Rosina in The Ghosts of Versailles. Previous roles include Iris in The Tempest, the Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors, the title role in Suor Angelica, and Donna Anna in Don Giovanni. She won first prize in Houston Grand Opera’s 2014 Eleanor McCollum Competition Concert of Arias, and she was the recipient of a 2015 Sara Tucker Study Grant.


Last updated: August 2015

D'Ana Lombard

Eva

Seattle Opera Debut

Hae Ji Chang

Setsuko

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: Setsuko, An American Dream
Seattle Opera Debut

Soprano (Seoul, South Korea)

Hae Ji Chang makes her Seattle Opera debut creating the role of Setsuko. She has recently performed Pamina in Die Zauberflöte at San Jose Opera; Gilda in Rigoletto at PORTopera; and the roles of Crobyle in Thaïs, Frasquita in Carmen, and the First Lady in Die Zauberflöte at LA Opera. Additional credits include Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro at Aspen Opera Theater, Euridice in Orfeo ed Euridice at the New England Conservatory of Music, and the Zarzuela Prize at Plácido Domingo’s Operalia.. Upcoming engagements include Mimì in La bohème at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Marguerite in Faust with Seoul Metropolitan Opera.

Last updated: August 2015

Hae Ji Chang

Setsuko

Seattle Opera Debut

Nina Yoshida Nelsen

Hiroko Kobayashi

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: Mama, Hiroko Kobayashi, An American Dream

Mezzo-Soprano (Santa Barbara, CA)

Nina Yoshida Nelsen makes her Seattle Opera debut creating the role of Hiroko Kobayashi. During the 2014/15 season Nelsen returned to Utah Opera to perform Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, made her debut singing the same role at The Atlanta Opera, and performed Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Southwest Florida Symphony. Other recent roles include Khanh in the world premiere of Bound at Houston Grand Opera, the Secretary in The Consul at Opera Santa Barbara, Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors at Avery Fisher Hall, and Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro at Utah Opera. She has performed concerts at Carnegie Hall and with Santa Barbara Symphony, among others.

Last updated: June 2015

Nina Yoshida Nelsen

Hiroko Kobayashi

Seattle Opera Debut

Adam Lau

Makoto Kobayashi

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: Papa, Makoto Kobayashi, An American Dream
At Seattle Opera in 2016/17: The Speaker, The Magic Flute

Hometown: San Francisco, CA
Recently: Berardo, Richard the Lionheart (Opera Theatre of Saint Louis); Leporello, Don Giovanni (North Carolina Opera); Antonio, The Marriage of Figaro (Dallas Opera) 
Upcoming: Soloist, Mahler’s Eighth (Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine); Don Basilio, The Barber of Seville (North Carolina Opera)

Last updated: December 2015

Adam Lau

Makoto Kobayashi

Seattle Opera Debut

Morgan Smith

Jim

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: Jim Crowley, An American Dream and Count Almaviva, The Marriage of Figaro

Baritone (Seattle, WA)
Seattle Opera Debut: Donald, Billy Budd (’01)
Seattle Opera Young Artist: 1999/00, 2000/01
Previously at Seattle Opera: Riccardo, I puritani ('08); Silvio, Pagliacci (’08); Don Giovanni, Don Giovanni (’07)
Recently: Starbuck, Moby-Dick (Los Angeles Opera); Sharpless, Madama Butterfly (L’Opéra de Montréal); Escamillo, Carmen (Pittsburgh Opera)
Upcoming: Don Giovanni, Don Giovanni (Arizona Opera); Four Villains, The Tales of Hoffmann (Madison Opera); Lassiter, Riders of the Purple Sage (Arizona Opera)

Last Updated: January 2016

Morgan Smith

Jim

David S. Hogan

FBI Agent 1

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: An American Dream

Actor (Seattle, WA)

David Hogan made his Seattle Opera debut acting the role of Puck in the 2009 Young Artists production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He returned to the mainstage as Ambrogio in The Barber of Seville and a plainclothes police officer in The Consul. Other stage credits include King Henry in Henry V with the Seattle Shakespeare Company’s Wooden O and Enzo in The Art of Racing in the Rain with Book-It. He is also an actor for the screen (Grimm, Z Nation, The Device) and a film producer (Paralytic) with Mighty Tripod Productions. 

Last updated: June 2015

David S. Hogan

FBI Agent 1

Cast

Creative Team

Jack Perla

Composer

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: An American Dream 
Seattle Opera Debut

Composer (San Francisco, CA)

Composer and pianist Jack Perla is active in opera, jazz, chamber, and symphonic music. His operas and instrumental compositions have been widely performed, and he has performed in the U.S., Europe, and Japan, forging a reputation for his unique cross-fertilization of jazz and classical music. Perla has been commissioned by Los Angeles Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Houston Grand Opera, Seattle Opera, and the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition. He is also recipient of the Thelonious Monk Institute Jazz Composers Award, as well as awards, support, and recognition from the Argosy Fund for New Music, the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and numerous other organizations. Perla is currently working on a commission from Opera Theater of Saint Louis for a full-length opera based on Salman Rushdie's Shalimar the Clown, which will premiere in 2016. Enormous Changes, Perla’s third jazz recording, was released in July on Seattle-based Origin records. Pretty Boy, a new disc of chamber and vocal music, is slated for release in fall of 2015. Perla grew up in Brooklyn and lived in New York City while attending NYU and the Manhattan School of Music. He earned his DMA in composition from the Yale School of Music, and lives and works in San Francisco.

 
Last updated: August 2015

Jack Perla

Composer

Seattle Opera Debut

Jessica Murphy Moo

Librettist

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: An American Dream
Seattle Opera Debut

 

Librettist (Boston, MA)

Jessica Murphy Moo is a writer, editor, and teacher. An American Dream is her first libretto. Her fiction has appeared in The AtlanticImage, and Memorious. Her nonfiction has appeared in Poets & Writers Magazine and The Atlantic Online, among other publications. She has held teaching positions at Emerson College, Harvard University, Boston University, and Seattle Pacific University. She now teaches writing for the University of Washington’s Professional and Continuing Education program, and she is Seattle Opera’s communications editor.

Last updated: June 2015

Jessica Murphy Moo

Librettist

Seattle Opera Debut

Judith Yan

Conductor

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: An American Dream
Seattle Opera Debut

Conductor (Toronto, Canada)

Judith Yan has been Staff Conductor for San Francisco Opera, Canadian Opera Company, and National Ballet of Canada.  She is currently Artistic Director of Guelph Symphony Orchestra and Principal Conductor of Opera on the Avalon.  For SFO she conducted La finta giardiniera, Spratlan’s Earthrise, and The Rake’s Progress. For OOTA she conducted La bohème, Le nozze di Figaro, and Albert Herring. She opened Korean National Ballet’s 2014/15 and 2015/16 seasons with La Bayadère and Giselle, and conducted Sleeping Beauty, Nutcracker, and Don Quixote for Hong Kong Ballet. Next season includes Mozart's Requiem for GSO, the premiere of Estacio’s Ours at OOTA, La Bayadère at KNB, and a Teatr Wielki Opera Narodowa debut with The Taming of the Shrew.

Last updated: August 2015

Judith Yan

Conductor

Seattle Opera Debut

Peter Kazaras

Director

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: An American Dream
Seattle Opera Directorial Debut: Norma (’03) 

Stage Director (New York, NY)

On Seattle Opera’s mainstage Peter Kazaras has directed FalstaffNormaThe Marriage of FigaroTristan und IsoldeThe Barber of Seville, Madama Butterfly, and The Consul. He was the Artistic Director of Seattle Opera’s Young Artists Program and has worked at San Francisco Opera’s Merola program and Chautauqua Institution Vocal Department. As a singer, Kazaras’s roles at Seattle Opera have included Loge in Der Ring des Nibelungen, Peter Quint in The Turn of the Screw, and Pierre Bezukhov in War and Peace, among others. He is now a Professor of Music and the Director of Opera Studies at UCLA. He will direct La bohème at LA Opera next year.


Last updated: August 2015

Peter Kazaras

Director

Robert Schaub

Set Design

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: Nabucco and An American Dream
At Seattle Opera in 2016/17: The Magic Flute

Robert Schaub has been Seattle Opera’s Technical and Facilities Director for more than 24 years, overseeing much of what an audience sees onstage, including lighting, scenery, and props. He played a key role in the development and realization of designs for McCaw Hall. Schaub is the recipient of a 2001 Eddy (Entertainment Design) award for his work on Seattle Opera’s Der Ring des Nibelungen. He made his Seattle Opera design debut in 2011, partnering with Robert Dahlstrom on the set design for Die Zauberflöte.

Last updated: December 2015

Robert Schaub

Set Design

Robert Bonniol

Video Designer

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: Nabucco and An American Dream

MODE Studios, principal designer (Seattle, WA)

Robert Bonniol is a director and production designer. At Seattle Opera he designed projections for Parsifal in 2003 and the KeyArena simulcast of Madama Butterfly in 2012. Other opera credits include projection design of War and Peace at the Spoleto Festival in Italy, Frobisher for Calgary Opera, and Don Giovanni for Banff Centre. He designed the TED Conferences from 2010 to 2012, the MTV Music Awards, on tour for Lenny Kravitz and other performers, and massive scale projection mapping for Marvel Universe Live, a co-production of Marvel Studios, Walt Disney, and Feld Entertainment. 

Last updated: June 2015

Robert Bonniol

Video Designer

Video Design by Robert Bonniol, MODE Studios, principal designer and Travis Mouffe, associate designer

Deborah Trout

Costume Designer

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: An American Dream

Costume Designer (Seattle, WA)

Deborah Trout made her Seattle Opera debut with The Marriage of Figaro.  Trout often designs costumes for ACT, Intiman Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, and Seattle Repertory Theatre. Northwest design credits include Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Portland Center Stage. Nationally, her work has been seen at Denver Center Theatre Company, Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis, Manhattan School of Music, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Yale Repertory Theatre, and Arizona Theatre Company, among others. She has also designed off-off-Broadway productions. Trout co-founded the New York-based millinery company Mackey and Trout and is currently a senior lecturer in costume design at the University of Washington.

Last updated: June 2015

Deborah Trout

Costume Designer

Connie Yun

Lighting Designer

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: An American Dream

Lighting Designer (East Lansing, MI)

Connie Yun's designs have been most recently seen at Seattle Opera for Tosca, The Daughter of the Regiment, La Voix Humaine, and Suor Angelica. Locally, she has also designed for Tacoma Opera, Pacific Musicworks, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Empty Space Theatre, On The Boards, The Cabiri, Cornish College, Bellevue College, and University of Puget Sound. Other recent designs include Don Quichotte for Canadian Opera Company and Postcard from Morocco for Portland Opera and San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Upcoming designs include productions for Minnesota Opera, Madison Opera, and Portland Opera.

Last updated: June 2015

Connie Yun

Lighting Designer

Creative Team

Orchestra & Additional Artists

Orchestra

Violin I
Cordula Merks, Concertmaster

Violin II
Michael Miropolsky

Viola
Mara Gearman

Cello
Eric Han

Bass
Joseph Kaufman

Flute
Alexander Lipay

Oboe
Stefan Farkas

Clarinet
Laura Deluca

Bassoon
Seth Krimsky

Horn
Jeff Fair, Principal
John Karschney

Trumpet
James Ross

Percussion/Timpani
Mike Clark

Harp
Valerie Muzzolini Gordon

Piano
Thomas Bagwell

 

Personnel Manager
Scott Wilson

Assistant Personnel Manager
Keith Higgins

 

Rotating member of the string section are are listed alphabetically.
The Orchestra is composed of members of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra.

 

Actors

Justin Alley
Allan Armstrong
Tyler Johnson
Michael Patten
Ryan Spickard
Brendan Toner
Henry Walker

 

 

Orchestra & Additional Artists

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All performances take place at McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer Street, Seattle. Join our email list to receive personalized alerts with updates on traffic, dining, and parking for your specific performance, or choose a topic below to learn more.

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True-Brown Foundation

Main Photo © Dorothea Lange. War Relocation Authority 1942-1945 | Photos © Philip Newton