November 1, 2019
November 2, 2019
November 3, 2019
Pensacola Little Theatre
English with English Supertitles
Mark Campbell & Kimberly Reed
In partnership with Sunday’s Child, Pensacola Opera presents a unique multimedia double feature.
A transformative journey of self-discovery, As One tells the story of Hannah as she realizes and uncovers her true self. With evocative music by Laura Kaminsky and a stirring libretto by Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed, As One has quickly become the most performed new work in North America. This Florida premiere production features Elise Quagliata and Robert Wesley Mason as Hannah, along with the Polymnia String Quartet conducted by Cody Martin.
Performances of As One will be preceded by a showing of Kimberly Reed’s autobiographical documentary Prodigal Sons. In this film, Kimberly attends her twenty-year high school reunion ready to reintroduce herself to the small Montana town as a transgender woman. Exploring questions of sexual orientation, identity, severe trauma and love, the candid, sometimes bruising footage takes a tender but unflinching look at identity and the past, examining what it means to become someone new.
Cast and Creatives
Robert Wesley Mason*as Hannah Before
Wes has been celebrated for his visceral story telling ability where he “deploys his mighty baritone to stunning effect, using interpretive phrasing and nuanced delivery” (Albany Times Union). This past November, Wes returned to Nashville Opera in his role debut as Charlie in Heggie and Scheer’s Three Decembers. This winter he returns to Fargo-Moorhead Opera for another run of Three Decembers as well as Escamillo in Carmen, followed by his debut with Eugene Opera, reprising the role of Hannah Before in Kaminski, Campbell, and Reed’s As One. Additionally, this summer will see two more company and role debuts as he joins Urban Arias as a soloist in their production of Elvis Costello’s The Juliet Letters and West Edge Opera for the West Coast Premiere of Mazzoli and Vavrek’s Breaking the Waves as Jan Nyman.
Elise Quagliataas Hannah After
ELISE QUAGLIATA, mezzo-soprano, has gained notice over the past decade for the unique beauty of her voice, her musical intelligence, theatrical range and the riveting effect she has had on audiences everywhere. She has made a name for herself in contemporary as well as in traditional works.
Recently, Ms. Quagliata sang the role of the Minkswoman to great acclaim in Jonathan Dove’s Flight at Des Moines Metro Opera. This past season, she performed with Atlanta Opera as Zosia in the premiere of Jake Heggie’s newest work, Out of Darkness: Two Remain. She also took on the presence of Hannah After in Laura Kaminsky’s As One with Des Moines Metro Opera.
Regularly appearing as Carmen in the past several seasons for New York City Opera’s tours of Carmen in Europe, North America, Asia and the Middle East, the artist reprised the role for City Opera’s second summer at New York City’s Bryant Park. This season, 2018-19, she performs Carmen with the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera. As Carmen with Utah Opera in 2016, Opera News noted that she “commanded attention” with her “dusky mezzo, dramatic acumen and pulchritude.” Early on, Ms. Quagliata’s Carmen captivated critics and audiences alike. In her performance for Pensacola Opera, reviewers praised her as “simply riveting” (Pensacola News Journal); ready to “spontaneously combust – the girl is on fire” (The Independent News); and “one of the finest Carmens I have ever seen” (Mobile Register).
Ms. Quagliata was featured in the opening season of the “new” New York City Opera as Hedda Hopper in Stewart Wallace’s Hopper’s Wife. The New York Times declared that she “rightly stole the show, her vocally and physically nuanced portrayal vividly conveying the evolution of the character.” In Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, Opera News found her “deliciously caustic” Countess Charlotte Malcolm “threatened to purloin the evening.” As Maria in Maria de Buenos Aires, Astor Piazzolla’s tango tour-de-force, Opera Today remarked that she “showed off her poised tone to perfection in a wide range of demanding emotional states. Dramatically and musically, she does not so much perform the part as inhabit it. A remarkable star turn.”
In Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, Sister Helen has become the artist’s signature role, and one she has performed frequently with heart-rending range and emotion. Opera News found that the “passionate interpretation” of her Des Moines Metro Opera performance was executed with “exceptional technical finesse.” For Union Avenue Opera, the Saint Louis Dispatch opined that her acting and “dark, expressive voice” gave the role an “authentic strength and humor,” while the final confession scene was performed with “throat-grabbing intensity.” Her interpretation of Mr. Heggie’s songs have also commanded attention. The New York Times praised her “rich, expressive voice and passionate delivery” of the song cycle on Sister Helen’s prayers, The Deepest Desire, performed in New York and Los Angeles with the flutist Carol Wincenc and the composer at the piano. She worked again with Mr. Heggie on his subsequent cycle, The Breaking Waves, as part of a special concert of the composer’s works for Opera America.
The 2018-2019 season includes a recording of composer Luna Pearl Woolf’s songs with cellist Matt Haimovitz; soloist for Milwaukee’s Florentine Opera 85th Anniversary Celebration Concert; and singing Emilia in Verdi’s Otello with Austin Opera. She will also reprise her turn as Joan Clarke in Justine Chen’s The Life and Death(s) of Alan Turing with Chicago Opera Theater, a role she originated for American Lyric Theater, praised as “vibrant” by the The New York Times.
In past seasons, Ms. Quagliata appeared as Jo in Mark Adamo’s Little Women with Pensacola Opera, described as “a vocal tour de force of amazing power, beauty, and dexterity.” With Florida Grand Opera, she sang Cornelia in Handel’s Guilio Cesare with what The Miami Herald noted as a “graceful presence” and “a rich mezzo voice.” For Des Moines Metro Opera, the artist performed Olga in Eugene Onegin, and also appeared there as the Muse/Nicklausse in Les contes d’Hoffmann, where her “striking, bold tone, superb diction and excellent acting” was singled out by the Des Moines Register.
Polymnia Quartet*as String Quartet
The Polymnia Quartet (Benjamin Hart and Kate Withrow, violins; Amelia Clingman, viola; Philip Von Maltzahn, cello) was founded in 2015 in New Orleans with a focus on presenting classical standards and contemporary compositions in atypical venues, offering audiences fresh ways to experience chamber music. The Quartet performs regularly at the Marigny Opera House and for the Marigny Opera Ballet. Locally, they have performed at Southern Rep Theatre, Nola Brewing Company, Tulane University, and at the Audubon Park “Music Under the Oaks” series. In 2018, the Quartet commissioned and premiered a new collaborative work at the Music Box Village.
The Polymnia Quartet has performed for New Orleans Opera Association’s productions of María de Buenos Aires and As One, which they also performed with Des Moines Metro Opera. Educational collaborations have included masterclasses for the Birdfoot Festival in New Orleans and a side-by-side with the Magnolia Concert Society Chamber Orchestra in Gulfport, MS. They currently serve as Ensemble-in-Residence for the New Orleans Friends of Music’s Open Your Ears educational initiative.
The name “Polymnia” refers to the Greek Muse of hymns and poetry and is a nod to both New Orleans’ Polymnia Street and the celebrated Mardi Gras Krewe of Muses.
Cody Martinas Conductor
Cody Martin is currently the Director of Education and Director of the Artists in Residence Program at Pensacola Opera. During the 2018-19 season, he leads a production of Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas and is associate conductor for Roméo et Juliette. In the 2017-18 season, he conducted productions of María de Buenos Aires and Man of La Mancha. Cody worked with Des Moines Metro Opera this summer for his third season, serving as associate conductor for Rusalka and coaching singers in the Apprentice Artist Program. He has previously worked on productions of A Little Night Music, Orphée et Eurydice, and Falstaff in Des Moines. He was on the music staff at Arizona Opera for two seasons, working most recently on productions of Rusalka, Madama Butterfly, Riders of the Purple Sage (world premiere), and La Cenerentola. Cody also worked with Virginia Opera in the 2014-15 season as the Emerging Artist Coach. He was on the music staff of the Janiec Opera Company at Brevard Music Center for three seasons, working as an assistant conductor and coach for productions of The Ballad of Baby Doe, Così fan tutte, Rigoletto, Sweeney Todd, Don Giovanni, and Albert Herring.
Cody holds degrees from Murray State University and Florida State University.
CONDUCTOR | Cody Martin
STAGE DIRECTOR | TBD
REHEARSAL PIANIST | Stephen Variames
COSTUME DESIGNER | TBD
SET DESIGNER | TBD
STAGE MANAGER | TBD
* Pensacola Opera debut artist
As One is presented through a special partnership with Sunday’s Child and a generous contribution by Diane Peterson, in memory of her husband and son, Sean and Brad Peterson.