Chimera is new drag opera exploring the intricacies and complexities of identity.
Different drag performers interchangeably play the role of Chimera, each personifying different aspects of this one individual. Through examining the intersections of these various human sides, this chamber opera creates a space for vulnerability, empathy, introspection, and discovery.
The narrative develops through the process of getting to know each drag queen, not only as a character, but as the individual behind the character. Inspired by this personal interaction, each song in the opera is written specifically for the drag artist who performs it. The songs highlight both their drag persona and their true self, while underscoring the connections of shared experience. Through these shared stories, Chimera is created.
Throughout the piece, we see Chimera at various moments in her life through simultaneous performances that reveal the different sides of her identity and experience. This onstage transformation reveals everything to the audience: vulnerability, confidence, self-expression, repression, loneliness, and fabulousness, unveiling intimately personal and social narratives.
Timeline & Development
Following the work-in-progress performance at National Sawdust as part of the FERUS Festival in January 2019, Chimera is being developed throughout 2019-20. The creative team are casting further drag artists and singers as well as a costume designer and dramaturg. In addition, LGBTQ+ community organizations will be involved in the development of the work, consulting as the narrative and music take form, as well as producing their own creative response as a participatory arts project.
Composer Angélica Negrón on Chimera:
Chimera is born out of my love and respect for the drag community, which I’ve been fortunate to be in close contact with since my childhood in Puerto Rico. It’s also an homage to the strong women who shaped me, drag queens included.
Director Jorinde Keesmaat on Chimera:
This piece, for me, is about a very deep and profound inner urge to express. The inner strength to create to the extreme. To push yourself to be out there. What is more interesting to expose the world behind the façade of the outside? This piece is about glorifying women, a core element in my work. It is a tribute to all who are stigmatized and not free to be who they want to be.
Music by: Angélica Negrón
Libretto by: Angélica Negrón
Directed by: Jorinde Keesmaat
Desmond is Amazing (Desmond Napoles)
Miz Jade (Davon Chance)
Alexis Michelle (Alex Michaels)
Two additional performers to be confirmed
Additional pre-recorded singers to be confirmed
Shayna Dunkelman, electronics and percussion
Developed with members of The Knights ensemble (2 violin, viola, cello, bass & harp)