Friday, February 8 @ 8:00 PM – Sydney Laurence Theatre in the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts
Saturday, February 9 @ 8:00 PM – Sydney Laurence Theatre in the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts
Sunday, February 10 @ 4:00 PM – Sydney Laurence Theatre in the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts
In English with English titles
About the Opera
Treasured possessions are symbols of home; reminders of a past never to be repeated
Inspired by true stories from American history, An American Dream explores intersecting narratives of two women during World War II: a Japanese American, and her family, facing internment, and a German Jewish immigrant preoccupied by those she left behind. Both families have secrets that bind them to each other, eventually revealed through treasured possessions abandoned and found. Hailed by the Seattle Times at its world premiere as “a heart wrenching opera…eloquent and moving”, this modern masterpiece resonates with local connections to Anchorage as well as our Alaska Native community. Talk-Back discussions following each show will help take attendees deeper into the civil-rights implications of this story and its themes of wartime hysteria, racism, and xenophobia.
Intended to foster conversations within the Anchorage community, we invite you to linger afterwards for a Talk Back discussion about the social issues raised by the work.
by Jack Perla
Libretto by Jessica Murphy Moo
WATCH VIDEO>> Japanese-American Relocation After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States Government issued executive order 9066, which empowered the military to round up anyone of Japanese ancestry and place them in internment camps.
An American Dream in reviews
“a heart wrenching opera…eloquent and moving” – Seattle Times
“It’s a triumph. It’s riveting. It’s unsettling and uncomfortable. It’s strong. For many it will be emotional… “…an atmospheric score which surrounds but never overwhelms the voices….”The whole was a tour de force…” City Arts Magazine
“A cumulative experience in which music plays but one part…a prime example of “people’s music” that tackles a formerly uncomfortable subject with honesty and whose ultimate impact relies, in large part, on non-musical components that are anything but ancillary.” – Classical Voice America
“Full of impressionist and minimalist impulses, with washes of color and repeated motoric elements, it sounded like a meeting of Debussy and Philip Glass. Jessica Murphy Moo’s heart-wrenching, poetic libretto got right to the point in an opening scene with a Japanese-American family hastily burning belongings in the hope of avoiding arrest…An American Dream is a gripping piece of musical theater” – Seattle Times
About the Composer
Beginning in New York with his group Music Without Walls and continuing in San Francisco, Jack Perla has forged a reputation for his unique cross-fertilization of jazz, improvisation and classical music. He’s been commissioned by the Los Angeles Opera, Opera Theatre St. Louis, Houston Grand Opera, Seattle Opera, The Paul Dresher Ensemble, TwoSense, MATA, and many others. Jack’s latest opera Shalimar the Clown, based on the novel by Salman Rushdie, premiered in June 2016 at Opera Theater St. Louis. Rajiv Joseph, nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, wrote the libretto, and James Robinson, one of America’s most sought-after directors, led the production. The Wall Street Journal called Shalimar the Clown “topical, literary and theatrical”; The New York Times: “genuinely out-of-the-box composing”; The Chicago Tribune: “the dramatic resonance of modern Shakespearean tragedy” and Opera News: “the finesse of Puccini”. An American Dream, a one-act opera with libretto by Jessica Murphy-Moo received its world-premiere with Seattle Opera in August 2015. The Seattle Times called it “a gripping piece of musical theater”. The San Francisco Chronicle called Jack’s 2014 opera River of Light “a subtly cross-pollinated marvel”. Jack is the recipient of awards from the Thelonious Monk Institute, American Composers Forum, New Music USA, Barlow Endowment for Music Composition, Argosy Foundation, James Irvine Foundation, Paul Mellon Foundation, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony. Jack grew up in Brooklyn and lived in New York City while attending NYU and the Manhattan School of Music. After MSM he formed Music Without Walls, featuring violinist Mark Feldman, woodwind virtuosos Rob DeBellis and Marty Ehrlich, cellist Erik Friedlander, percussionist Kory Grossman and bassist John Goldsby. Perla led the group through several seasons of New York area concerts before heading west to the Bay Area in 1996, where he established the West Coast edition of the group. He earned his DMA in composition from the Yale School of Music, where he studied with Jacob Druckman, Martin Bresnick and Lukas Foss. He earned his BM and MM from the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied with John Corigliano, and his BA from New York University. He currently lives and works in San Francisco.
More info about Jack Perla: CLICK HERE
About the Librettist
Jessica Murphy Moo is a writer, editor and teacher. She wrote the libretto for An American Dream, an opera that had its world premiere at Seattle Opera in August 2015, and which the company will be remounting in September 2017. In 2016, she was selected to attend Tapestry Opera’s Librettist-Composer Laboratory, also known as LIBLAB, in Toronto. Her fiction has appeared in The Atlantic; Image; Memorious; and Signs of Life, an annual anthology for Seattle writers. Her nonfiction has appeared in Poets & Writers Magazine, The Atlantic Online, ParentMap and Portland, among other publications.
In 2006, she received the Milton Postgraduate Fellowship at Seattle Pacific University. She has held teaching positions at Emerson College, Harvard University, Boston University and Seattle Pacific University. She now teaches nonfiction writing for UW Professional & Continuing Education and is Seattle Opera’s publications editor. She has an MFA from Emerson College.
Alaska’s Internment Camp History
‘Japanese community recalls JBER internment camp’, by Zachariah Hughes, Alaska Public Media – February 22, 2016
‘Study of little-known WWII internment camp in Alaska revives difficult memories’ – LA Times, Feb 2016
Pribilof Island residents evacuated on U.S. Army Transport Delarof, in June 1942.
National Archives, General Records of the Department of the Navy
‘The Other WWII American-Internment Atrocity’ – NPR, February 21, 2017
‘Agony of the Aleutians: The forgotten internment’ – Anchorage Daily News, September 28, 2016
Alaska’s Aleuts–Forgotten Internees of WWII : Captivity: Residents of strategic islands were rounded up by U.S. government in 1942 and left to languish in old fish canneries. March 01, 1992|JULIA RUBIN | ASSOCIATED PRESS
AMERICA, THE 1940S
A farmhouse on a Puget Sound island. An American veteran, Jim Crowley, and Eva, his new wife, have come to buy a home. A German Jew, Eva desperately wants her parents to leave Germany, where their lives are in danger. She hopes her family will find peace and sanctuary in this place so far from the war. Meanwhile, inside the home, a Japanese American family has heard that the FBI has been searching homes and arresting people of Japanese descent. The family burns their precious Japanese belongings, attempting to erase all ties to Japan in the hopes that they will avoid arrest.
Eva waits outside as Jim, knowing he has the upper hand, tries to get Makoto Kobayashi to sell the land for a fraction of what it is worth. The FBI arrives at the home and tells Makoto he is under arrest; the FBI found some old dynamite in the shed out back, and they say this contraband makes him a threat. Makoto decides, under the pressure of the situation, to sell the land to Jim. As the FBI agents take Makoto away, he and his teenage daughter, Setsuko, promise to meet at the farmhouse, the only home they know, after the war.
Setsuko and her mother, Hiroko, have packed up the house. Setsuko holds her suitcase, ready to leave, when a postman delivers a letter. Setsuko sees that it is from Germany, for a woman named Eva. Angry that she is being forced to leave her home, the girl steals the letter.
A few weeks later
Jim and Eva move into their new home; they designate a room for Eva’s parents. Jim tries to keep Eva’s hopes up. Eva notices that small items have been left behind in the home: a piece of a record and a photograph. When she finds a beautiful Hina-Matsuri doll hidden beneath a floorboard, Eva asks Jim about the previous owners. Jim tells her that they were “Japs,” sent to the internment camps. He tells her to throw away the doll, that it doesn’t belong in a room for her parents. Eva defies Jim’s wishes and hides the doll, promising to find its owner and return it at war’s end.
Jim and Eva hear an announcement on the radio of Germany’s surrender. Eva, who has learned about the Kobayashi family and their whereabouts, writes to Setsuko, telling Setsuko she has something that belongs to her.
Later that month
While still incarcerated, Setsuko receives the letter. When her mother, who is gravely ill, inquires about the letter, Setsuko lies and explains that the letter is from her father, telling them to keep hope because the war is nearly done.
Puget Sound Farmhouse. When a letter comes back to Eva from Setsuko, Jim intercepts it and tells Eva that Setsuko is not allowed in their home. President Truman announces the dropping of the atomic bomb.
There is a knock on the door. It is Setsuko, returning to the home. Setsuko confronts Jim, reminding him that he coerced her family to sell their home for next to nothing. Eva asks Jim if this is true.
Jim tries to explain his actions to Eva, but she can’t accept what he has done. She leaves the room to retrieve the doll she has promised to return to Setsuko. While she is gone, Jim confronts Setsuko, and Setsuko admits to another reason for coming. She is here to return Eva’s letter. Eva returns to the room, and Setsuko gives her the letter. From the stolen letter, Eva learns of her parents’ fate, and she collapses. Setsuko must finish reading the letter for her. Jim tries to comfort Eva. Setsuko’s father arrives at the front door.
(synopsis courtesy of OPERA America website)
Sponsors & Partners
This production made possible by an OPERA America Innovation Grant, supported by the Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation.
Yeonji Lee – Setsuko Kobayashi
Hidenori Inoue – Papa, Makoto Kobayashi
Elizabeth Baldwin – Eva Crowley
Yunlei Xie – Mama, Hiroko Kobayashi
Andrew Paulson – Jim Crowley
Cara Consilvio – Stage Director
Elle Janecek – Hair & Make-up Designer
Cedar Cussins – Lighting Designer
Carrie Yanagawa – Set Designer
Emily Butzi – Stage Manager
Free Pre-Opera Talks
Plan to join us one hour before each performance of An American Dream to learn the fascinating history and insights into this poignant and compelling opera.
Friday, Feb 8 at 7:00 pm in the Voth Hall
Saturday, Feb 9 at 7:00 PM in the Voth Hall
Sunday, Feb 10 at 3:00 pm in the Voth Hall