Seattle Opera today announced Belonging(s), a new community engagement project that will use personal stories of Puget Sound area residents to create a new kind of homegrown opera. The first phase of this multi-year project involves collecting hundreds of stories, each centering on a cherished belonging that embodies struggle, success, and identity. Story collection is underway, and continues, in the coming weeks, at a Belonging(s) video booth in the lobby of McCaw Hall before each performance of Porgy and Bess.
“Opera is often described in terms of its component parts, or its 400-year old Western European history,” says Speight Jenkins, General Director of Seattle Opera. “I’m interested in finding ways that we can think more broadly about opera, as a celebration of the stories we share and the details that make us unique.”
Belonging(s) begins with a digital quilt—an online repository of videos created by you, your friends, and the people you pass on the street—that tell stories of our most precious possessions: those objects or memories that help us understand our lives, our relationships, and our legacies. From the quilt will come a newly commissioned opera, to be produced in venues throughout the Puget Sound region. A composer and librettist—to be identified in an upcoming announcement—will select a small number of stories from the quilt to create an opera that explores the time and place in which we live.
“Seattle Opera performs Wagner’s Ring cycle every four years,” says Seattle Opera Education Director Sue Elliott. “The magic ring is an object upon which an entire world projects its conflicts and history. Drawing inspiration from the Ring, we’re using stories of our most precious possessions to create new work as part of a local, communal arts practice, using ideas and images from you, your friends, and your neighbors.”