NationalSawdust+ presents: "Beyond Butterfly and the Don"
An evening with
countertenor Kangmin Justin Kim and baritone Lucia Lucas
7pm doors • 8pm show
Male singers play the role of the lecherous Don Giovanni and ruler of the gods, Wotan. Mezzo-sopranos play Cherubino, the young boy who sometimes pretends to be a young girl. Or so goes the customary wisdom. But what happens when long-held conventions are turned on their heads by extraordinary singers and interpreters whose paths defy traditional ways of thinking about opera? On January 24, join countertenor Kangmin Justin Kim and female baritone and trans advocate Lucia Lucas for an intriguing evening of opera scenes, songs, and conversation, exploring how they have found their own voices despite the mainstream.
Kim earned acclaim last spring for his Cherubino at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, under the baton of John Eliot Gardner, and soon will embody the title role of M. Butterfly (by Huang Ruo and David Henry Hwang, debuting this summer at Santa Fe Opera). Lucas recently made powerful house debuts at English National Opera (Public Opinion, Orpheus in the Underworld) and at Tulsa Opera (title role in Don Giovanni), and next season will add Rigoletto to her growing repertoire. Pianist Zalman Kelber joins this NationalSawdust+ program, to include audience Q&A.
In just a few years Kangmin Justin Kim has established himself as one of the most sought-after countertenors of his generation, having collaborated with such prestigious conductors as Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Mark Minkowski, Andrea Marcon, William Christie, Leonardo García-Alarcón, and Michael Hofstetter.
Engagements this season include his role debuts as Ruggiero in a new production of Alcina in Nancy and Dijon, as Annio in a new staging of La clemenza di Tito at the Theater an der Wien, and in the title role in the world premiere of M. Butterfly at the Santa Fe Festival. He will also perform Nerone in L’incoronazione di Poppea at the Haymarket Opera in Chicago and will return to Cologne as Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus.
In the 2018/19 season, he made his debuts at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden as Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner and at the Staatsoper Berlin as Nerone in L’incoronazione di Poppea. He also sang Idamante in a new staging of Idomeneo at the Maifestspiele Wiesbaden as well as Idelberto in a new production of Lotario at the Konzert Theater Bern.
Other career highlights include Nerone in L’incoronazione di Poppea and Speranza in L’Orfeo at the Salzburg Festival, the Philharmonie of Paris, the Edinburgh Festival, the Luzern Festival, the Berliner Festspiele, New York’s Lincoln Center, and in Chicago conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner; Prince Orlofsky in a new production of Die Fledermaus and Cesare in Catone in Utica at the Cologne Opera; Orfeo in Parnasso in festa at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam conducted by Andrea Marcon; his debut at the Teatro San Carlo of Naples in Britten’s Canticles; Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus for his Parisian debut at the Opéra Comique conducted by Marc Minkowski; Oreste in La belle Hélène at the Théâtre du Châtelet of Paris; Sesto in La clemenza di Tito in Montpellier; Enea in Didone abbandonata at the Handel Festival Halle; and a Gala Concert at the Styriarte Graz.
Kangmin Justin was born in South Korea and grew up in Chicago. He studied voice, opera, and musical theater at Northwestern University in Evanston and the Royal Academy of Music, London.
For his interpretation of the title role of Pym in Heidelberg, he received nominations as “Best Singer” of the 2015-16 season for the German theater award DER FAUST 2016 and from the magazine Opernwelt as “Singer of the year 2016.” He also received a nomination as Young Singer Of The Year at the 2019 International Opera Awards. The magazine Opera Now named him among their “Tipped for the Top in 2020” artists and OperaWire included him in their “Top 10 Rising Stars Of 2019” list.
Photo by Victor Santiago
Hailed as “one of the most powerful and beautiful baritone voices you could hear” (The Side Balcony), American baritone Lucia Lucas is making waves on the operatic mainstages. Lucas has resided in Germany for the past decade and has performed in cities all over the globe including Dublin, London, Brussels, Berlin, Torino, Essen, Daegu (Korea), and throughout the United States. Last season, she made her role debut as Wotan in Die Walküre with Theater Magdeburg to great critical acclaim. Lucas’ portrayal of the role was considered “a powerfully clear-singing” and “dramatically intense Wotan” (Volksstimme). She also made a triumphant debut in the title role of Don Giovanni with Tulsa Opera, Tulsa World exclaiming, “In the title role, Lucia Lucas is nothing short of a revelation. She possesses a voice that can rattle the rafters with its power, without ever sacrificing subtlety of expression. It is a voice filled with character in every sense of the word, as flexible in expression as Lucas is in taking on the myriad personae Don Giovanni adopts as he goes about his lecherous business.” Lucia’s Voice (Working Title), a cutting-edge documentary by Kirkpatrick & Kinslow Productions centered on Lucia’s life, culminating in her performance in Tulsa, will be released later this year.
She sings primarily baritone repertoire for her day job, but has done many performance art installations including Nuit Blanche in Brussels in 2017 and 2018 and Operdagen in Rotterdam in 2019. She also had her one woman show in 2017 at Camden People’s Theater entitled Binary Optional. She is a fierce advocate for opera as well as the lgbt community. She is increasingly performing advocacy recitals, often in conjunction with speaking appearances. She hopes that people can focus on talent rather than identity in the workplace. She hopes that work environments can stick to the social element of transition for lgbt workers. She believes that too often the workplace can get hung up on the medical and legal aspects of transition, when the only relevant part for the workplace is social transition. Any lgbt individual coming out experiences a social transition, as well as other people when revealing personal info about themselves. She wants the focus to be on her work, not the fact that she happens to be trans.
Engagements this season include her début with English National Opera as Public Opinion in a glitzy new production by Emma Rice of Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld. Additionally, she will perform as a soloist in Unknown, I Live with You, a concert inspired by Afghan female writers’ poems with The Airport Society in several venues throughout Europe.
Photo by Josh New
Pianist and Opera Coach Zalman Kelber serves on the Music Staff of both the Salzburger Festspiele and Metropolitan Opera. Frequently specializing in demanding contemporary repertoire, his credits this season at the Met include new productions of Akhnaten and Wozzeck. As an Opera Coach, he has also worked for Sarasota Opera, Guatemala’s Querido Arte Ópera, Juilliard Opera, and American Lyric Theatre, and is an alum of several Young Artist Programs, including those of the Metropolitan Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Crested Butte Festival, Glimmerglass Opera, and Shreveport Opera.
As a song accompanist, he served on the accompanist staff of the Ravinia Music Steans Institute in 2017 and participated in the recital series of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program in 2017 and 2018.
Originally from Brooklyn NY, he received his dual undergraduate degrees in Piano and African History from Northwestern University, and his Master’s in Musicology and Harpsichord from Oxford.
NationalSawdust+, a lively performance and conversation series, brings together luminaries from across disciplines to share their passion for music and explore ideas, making surprising connections. It taps artists and thinkers from theater, film, visual art, literature, science, and beyond to create insightful, often topical, programs.
photo credit: Brigitte Lacombe