Long Beach Opera will showcase the male-to-female transition of its lead, Hannah, in its May 2017 production of "As One."
The play will follow Hanna before her transition as a youth in a small town (portrayed by baritone Lee Gregory), as she experiences her life through inner exploration and her life-long process of finding comfort and peace with the individual that she is, according to Andreas Mitisek, LBO's artistic and general director — and the "As One" conductor.
"I think it is a theme that has been circling around," Mitisek said of the opera's message. "I think most of us have little understanding of transgender journeys."
The audience will experience Hannah's journey as she transitions into womanhood, with her post-transition self portrayed by mezzo-soprano Danielle Marcelle Bond.
"We have a terrific cast with Lee Gregory and Danielle Bond," Mitisek said. "Both are wonderful in their roles. Even though they are both not on a transgender journey, there is so much to bring and take away (from their roles)."
Mitisek added that the actors are portraying two sides of one person — and although not everyone will be able to personally understand Hannah's journey — he encourages viewers to look at their own personal growth throughout their lifetime.
"Beyond understanding Hannah's journey, it's a journey we all have to do in order to find ourselves," he said.
He added that every person moves through life at their own pace, and finding themselves is a part of the process of growing older.
The production is based on the experiences of filmmaker Kimberly Reed, co-libretto of "As One" — and a transgender female.
"It's not unusual for me to be first transgender person someone has known," Reed said in a release. "I'm happy to be in that position, because the best way to dispel misunderstanding and increase empathy for The Other is to simply get to know someone," Reed said.
The opera has been featured in different cities throughout the country, and it has been well received, according to Mitisek.
"It's a powerful piece about a journey that we can all take in different ways," he said. "It helps us revisit some of our challenges and some of our solutions. All of this helps us understand that we have commonalities that we share."
"As One" is composed by Laura Kaminsky with libretto by Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed.
The 75-minute production will run at 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 13, and 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 20, and Sunday, May 21, at the Beverly O'Neill Theater, 300 E. Ocean Blvd.
Tickets are available at longbeachopera.org/tickets.
Stephanie Stutzman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.