As One

A thoughtful journey through questions of identity, empathy, compassion, and humanity.

We open our season 2017/18 the Chicago premiere of “As One.” In this intimate show, a mezzo-soprano and baritone represent a single transgender protagonist, Hannah. As One takes us alongside as she seeks to resolve the discord between the truth of her own self and the world around her.

“This is a story that people can relate to whether they’re trans or not…I think we all grow and change and transition from one thing to another. And to confirm that you can unclog your world, being yourself instead of being this fabrication that everyone is telling yourself they’re supposed to be, that’s a very powerful thing.”

-Kimberly Reed (co-librettist, filmmaker)

Music & Concept by Laura Kaminsky
Libretto by Mark Campbell & Kimberly Reed


Hannah After
Hannah Before


Hannah After
Hannah Before

Artistic Team

Stage Director
Lighting Designer
Costume Designer
Shanna Philipson
Stage Manager
String Quartet
Rehearsal Pianist
Alexander Kirillov

Conductor's Note

As One is excitingly unique in that it is an episodic monodrama in which the main character is never truly seen on stage.  Hannah, our transgender protagonist, is represented by two cisgender singers, each playing a part of the whole.  A baritone performs as Hannah Before and a Mezzo as Hannah After.  Anyone who has transitioned can tell you that it is not as simple as “before” and “after”; Campbell, Kaminsky, and Reed brilliantly capture the muddy humanity of transition by having both characters alternate between being narrators and active participants in any given moment of Hannah’s life.  In the first part of the opera, Hannah Before grows from an anxious child into a more mature and eloquent poet expressing her isolation.  Such rapid changes create a self-awareness for the opera; the performers act more as aspects or characteristics of Hannah, than as Hannah herself.  This honest interpretation connects the audience to the work with the openness of communal exploration through storytelling.

True glimpses of Hannah appear with the assistance of the string quartet, most specifically the viola.  The viola takes on an important role as Hannah Always.  The addition of a third party portraying Hannah adds to the illusive nature of our protagonist.  Hannah Always, our violist, speaks constantly to both the performers onstage.  This interplay is often significant: Hannah Always even starts the show!  During the prologue, the viola enters the stage and contrasts the rest of the string quartet.  Kaminsky brilliantly captures the first moment Hannah feels different from everyone else.  Our violist also interacts directly with the singers portraying Hannah.  When Hannah begins hormone replacement therapy, the baritone representation of Hannah speaks directly with our viola representation of Hannah to find an inner peace and relieve some of her fear.

When we do see the true Hannah it is usually through the Kaminsky’s clear use of voice exchange.  This technique is used throughout the piece to bring the three Hannahs closer together and blur the line between before and after.  These musical moments are set when Hannah is at her most vulnerable and exposed.  Kaminsky also uses the note of F-sharp as a goal for Hannah to strive for, and achieve, in her most sincere moments, such as in conversations with her family about the word “love”.  At the end of the piece Hannah arrives at a brief unison on the F-sharp.  That too is just a glimpse: the F-sharp lasts for one beat before the baritone heads back to an A.

Our true Hannah is as elusive as the northern lights.  It is only when all three aspects come together that she can truly become As One.


Broadway Costumes
Chicago University, Center for Gender and Sexuality
The Chicago Tribune
Debbie Vanni
Doing the Work with Matthan Black
Dr. S. Simmons, UIC
Karari Olvera
Kemchan Jairam and Direct Office Furniture Warehouse
Maureen Bridges & Henry Latt
Megan Carney, About Face Theater
Ruth Margraff & Mark Jeffery
Rose Freeman
Ryan Butts
School of the Art Institute of Chicago

This production was rehearsed at Merry Music Makers.

As One Fundraiser Sponsors

Hydrate Nightclub (hosting and raffle)
Cream Wine (raffle)
Ace Hotel Chicago (raffle)
Elixir Lounge (raffle)

Thank You

Chicago Fringe Opera is immensely grateful for our donors who support our mission of presenting innovative vocal works with an emphasis in the new and contemporary styles, engaging with the Chicago community through intimate and immersive performance experiences, and fostering and empowering local artists.


Year to date as of: March 22, 2022

Jennifer Alkem

Isabella Andries

John Bierbusse

Dana Brown

John Cederquist

Darwin Corrin

Robert P Delonis

Kathy Dunn

Kent Dymak

Maria Fletcher

Paul Freehling

Sarah Geocaris

Myron Levine

Joan Mazzanelli

Ashley McKinstry

Patricia McMillen

Carla & William O’Shaughnessy

Robert Daniel Reid

Jeffrey Roth

Elizabeth Rudolph

Laura Smalley

Tracey Smalley

Julie Stauffer

Carol Stukey

Joshua Taylor

Mark & Joan Walker

Isabella Weber

Jonathan Wilson

Dean Yannias

Jonathan Zeng

Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP 

Fidelity Charitable 


Company & Board


Matthew Godfrey
Board Member
Sarah Geocaris
Board Member
Joshua Taylor
Board Member
Lara Yang

Company Members

Executive Director
Catherine O'Shaughnessy
Producing Artistic Director
George Cederquist
Social Media Manager
Daina Fischer
PR & Audience Relations Director
Giovanna Jacques
Artistic Producer
Khary Laurent
Marketing, Brand & Web Director
Jenny Schuler
Vocal Arts Associate
Bridget Skaggs
Community Engagement Coordinator
Jonathan Zeng