Swann, a new digital opera short from singer-songwriter and composer Tamar-kali, premiered virtually June 1 with a screening followed by a Q&A with Tamar-kali and director James Blaszko. The digital event is presented by Catapult Opera. Watch the short above.
The work pays tribute to William Dorsey Swann, the first known person to identify as a "queen of drag," and one of the earliest LGBTQ+ political activists on record in American history. In Tamar-kali's work, "impressionistic imagery and chamber composition depict an intimate evening at Swann's abode ahead of his detention and conviction in 1896 for 'keeping a disorderly house.'"
The digital opera short is part of Catapult Opera's initiative to "[provide] grants to singer-songwriters outside the classical realm to create short works at the intersection of their genre and opera." Swann is the company's third commissioned piece, following Glitch by Nico Muhly, and When All I Knew Changed by Celisse.
Tamar-kali is a singer-songwriter and composer whose work fuses alt-rock, punk, and classical sensibilities. Her song cycle “Melanc’Holy Ghosts and Other Mothers" was presented by Harlem Stage and Beth Morrison Projects in October 2022.
For more information, visit CatapultOpera.org.