Grateful for the support of the Montreal LGBT+ community
The OCM proudly opened its season on November 20th, to honour Transgender Day of Remembrance, with the opera As One which presents the story of a transgender woman’s life journey.
An important mission of the OCM’s is to present works that not just entertain but often challenge the norm and bring awareness on important social issues. As we know, the transgender experience is one that is often misunderstood and lacking in visibility. The opera As One beautifully brings out the humanity and authenticity to its viewers to further understand a trans person’s journey. It is indeed authentic in that the work’s libretto was co-written by a trans woman, Kimberly Reed and on whom the story is loosely based.
Since the opera’s inception in 2014, the creators have endorsed the use of cisgender performers to tell the story. The OCM went on an extensive search and consulted with various important sources to cast professional Canadian transgender opera singers to fill the roles of Hannah Before and After. The search unfortunately was unsuccessful. The OCM is proud to have presented two extremely talented cisgender singers, Phillip Addis and Sarah Bissonnette who did a fabulous job in their respective roles. Engaging Canadian and in particular Quebec singers is at the top of our priorities which is supported and required by government arts councils.
From the start of this project, it was important for us to engage with the trans community. Throughout the process, we have been supported by and have collaborated with LGBT+ organizations such as Aide aux trans du Québec, la Fondation Émergence, GRIS Montréal and the Chambre de commerce LGBT+. We are also proud to have engaged Tranna Wintour, a transgender Montreal media personality, as consultant and spokesperson for the project.
To further bring awareness and personal experience to the forefront of trans issues, OCM presented two online forums about gender identity. Panelists at these forums included co-librettist Kimberly Reed, a variety of local trans activists, and OCM hired two trans opera singers to perform : Liz Bouk (US) and Lucia Lucas (Germany). These online discussions were hosted by Tranna Wintour. We invite everyone to view these touching and informative forums
“It was my honour and pleasure being OCM’s consultant and spokesperson on As One. To be clear, I can only speak on behalf of myself, I cannot speak for an entire community (and I would never attempt to do so). I believe that it is of paramount importance that every effort must always be made for trans characters to be played by trans people. Sadly, even when the effort is made, it’s not always possible and it can be very frustrating and disappointing. I have experienced that disappointment and frustration many times both professionally and personally, and I respect everyone’s feelings in this matter. Having gotten to see the performance myself, I personally believe its powerful and important message was not diminished by the singers’ gender identities and I hope this piece can be received with an open heart because it was made with the best intentions. It’s not always possible to create something that can please and serve everyone, but I witnessed great care, sensitivity, and thoughtfulness made by the entire OCM team, cast, and crew in putting this production together—during a pandemic, no less. I congratulate the team for their hard work and the cast for their brilliant, moving performances.” says Tranna Wintour.
To further support the trans community, the OCM will be donating $500 to the Aide aux trans du Québec which will be used for the Emergency Assistance Program that provides support to the trans community from Quebec and Canada.
During this pandemic, organizing and presenting events has presented huge challenges which we are proud to have overcome while keeping everyone safe for our opening concert of the season. It is with extreme gratitude that the Montreal’s LGBT+ community united together to support this important opera presentation which was a premiere in Quebec.
In the end, we are all here to share good music, good stories and to bring awareness on important issues. We are glad and proud that this opera has opened up the discussion and brought awareness on all things transgender. Let’s celebrate diversity together!