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‘As One’: Coming Of Age Opera Explores Themes Of Identity And Authenticity

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Photo: Orlando Opera

Opera Orlando’s performance of As One showcases the transgender experience at a time when trans rights are being challenged in Florida and across the US.

Opera Orlando director Gabriel Preisser and conductor Alexandra Enyart join Intersection to talk about the opera and transgender identity in the arts. 

Preisser says As One has been on Opera Orlando’s radar since 2016.

“We find in the story, that’s really a universal message for all of us a message of acceptance, self discovery, it’s also an opportunity for us to learn more about the transgender community.”

Preisser says although the opera was already scheduled for production this year, the recent headlines around the rights of transgender Americans make the performance even more relevant.

“All the more reason why our community needs more education around transgender individuals and what those issues are,” he says.

Enyart says this will be the fifth production of ‘As One’ she’s conducted.

The opera is scored for string quartet and two voices. “One of them is Hannah before and one of them is Hannah after,” says Enyart.

“It’s a binary representation of transness, which is definitely you know, it’s just the method that is used to tell this story. It’s really not the only way transness is experienced. And I think that’s really significant for people to know is that we’re not all walking around with ‘before’ and ‘after’s. But it’s a good storytelling method for the purpose of this show.”

Enyart says she sometimes feels the weight of responsibility as one of a minority of trans conductors in the field.

“One of the big challenges and one of the big realities of of my life in my work is that for me, there is an aspect of, as far as I can make it, that is a huge win for my entire community. It’s been in moments, an incredible amount of pressure. When things feel dry, like in terms of gigs are drying up or even throughout the pandemic, I was like, am I letting down a whole community of people,” says Enyart.

“I always hold on to this, the ultimate goal is to lower the amount of harm that happens to my community. And music is a wonderful vehicle for that,” she says.

“I used to pretend that I could separate the two but they are not possible to separate. Yeah, whatever I’m doing comes with that mission.”


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