Must gender be fixed in opera? What happens when extraordinary singers and interpreters turn long-held conventions on their heads?
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NationalSawdust+ presents: Beyond Butterfly and the Don
An Evening with countertenor Kangmin Justin Kim + baritone Lucia Lucas
Must gender be fixed in opera? Customary wisdom: Male singers play the role of the lecherous Don Giovanni and ruler of the gods, Wotan. Mezzo-sopranos play Cherubino, the young boy who sometimes pretends to be a young girl. But what happens when extraordinary singers and interpreters turn long-held conventions on their heads?
In this NationalSawdust+ program from January 24, countertenor Kangmin Justin Kim and female baritone and trans advocate Lucia Lucas headline an intriguing evening of opera scenes, songs, and conversation. Following their performances, also featuring pianist Zalman Kelber, Tony Award-winning director Michael Mayer leads an intimate discussion about how these trailblazing artists have found their voices despite the mainstream.
Kim earned acclaim last year for his Cherubino at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, under the baton of John Eliot Gardner, and (pre-COVID) was scheduled to embody the title role of M. Butterfly (by Huang Ruo and David Henry Hwang) this summer at Santa Fe Opera. Lucas recently made powerful house debuts at English National Opera (Public Opinion, Orpheus in the Underworld) and at Tulsa Opera (title role in Don Giovanni). Next season, she adds Rigoletto to her growing repertoire, and makes her Metropolitan Opera debut as Bosun in Billy Budd.
Pianist and opera coach Kelber has served on the Music Staff of both the Salzburger Festspiele and Metropolitan Opera, as well as working for Sarasota Opera, Guatemala’s Querido Arte Ópera, Juilliard Opera, and American Lyric Theatre.
Mayer’s Broadway credits include Little Shop of Horrors, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and Spring Awakening. For the Metropolitan Opera, he staged new productions of La Traviata, Rigoletto, and Nico Muhly’s Marnie.
NationalSawdust+ would like to thank Huang Ruo and David Henry Hwang for letting Justin share an aria from their new opera, M. Butterfly; and members of TransNewYork and Ring of Keys who joined us for this special evening. The NationalSawdust+ series is curated by Elena Park; Jeff Tang is associate producer.
View the event program here.