As One shares a tale of transition with universal reach | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

As One shares a tale of transition with universal reach 

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click to enlarge Samantha Attaguile

Samantha Attaguile

courtesy of Chicago Fringe Opera

Chicago Fringe Opera is presenting the local premiere of this compact 75-minute transgender coming-of-age story, which has had an unusual number of productions since its first appearance in 2014. That might be due to its economical structure—it requires only two singers and a string quartet—but also, no doubt, owes to its topical subject. As One is loosely based on the experience of colibrettist Kimberly Reed, whose 2008 documentary Prodigal Sons traced the story of her own transition from high school football hero (and class president) to adult woman and lesbian (who incidentally makes the surprising discovery that her brother is the grandson of Hollywood legends Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles). In this chamber work that’s more like a musical-theater piece than a full-fledged opera, Reed has worked with librettist Mark Campbell and composer Laura Kaminsky to tell a universal tale of growing up and blossoming into oneself. Baritone Jonathan Wilson sings the role of the single character, Hannah, as a youth; mezzo-soprano Samantha Attaguile is Hannah after her transition. As in real life, both these elements of an evolving total person are present at some level all the way through. Alexandra Enyart conducts members of the Chicago-based Zafa Collective; the production includes film by Reed.   v

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