This panel took place on April 26, 2019. Read the recap on Seattle Opera's blog.
Who is Carmen, the leading lady of Bizet’s opera? Is she a dangerous seductress, a feminist martyr, or a complex Roma woman making her way in the world as an outsider? Or perhaps Carmen is merely a stereotype that reflects the fragilities and insecurities of the society that created her. The western arts industry has often been a space in which men—usually white men—have shaped the characters and narratives of Women of Color, depicting them as hypersexualized, exoticized, and ill-fated. In this Community Conversation, in which Carmen inspired us to examine how women artists of color respond to these tropes and their legacy, be it rejecting them, subverting them, or reclaiming them, and how they take back power by creating art in their own image.
Naomi André is Associate Professor in Women’s Studies and the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan. Her research focuses on opera and issues surrounding gender, voice, and race, and she recently published Black Opera: History, Power, Engagement (2018), a work on staging race and history in opera today. Her books, Voicing Gender: Castrati, Travesti, and the Second Woman in Early Nineteenth-Century Italian Opera (2006) and Blackness in Opera (2012) explore constructions of gender, race and identity in opera.
Puerto Rican mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Galafa began singing as a teenager in Central Florida. After receiving her B.A. at Stetson University, she completed her M.A. at the University of Michigan. A few of Elizabeth’s stage credits include: Hansel in Hansel & Gretel, The Child in L’enfant et les sortilèges, Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro, and Fox in The Cunning Little Vixen. In January 2018, Elizabeth was a semi-finalist for the N.A.T.S Artist Awards, representing the Northwest region in New York City. This past summer she was a young artist at Aquilon Music Festival in Oregon. During the 2019 season, Elizabeth will be making her role debut as Zerlina in Opera Bend’s production of Don Giovanni.
Michelle Habell-Pallán is Professor of Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies and an adjunct in Communication and the School of Music at the University of Washington. Her innovative research on gender, popular music, and culture has garnered awards from the Rockefeller and Woodrow Wilson Foundations. She co-founded UW Libraries’ Women Who Rock: Making Scenes, Building Communities Oral History Archive, a collaborative exploration of the role of women and popular music in the creation of cultural scenes and social justice movements. Her work Loca Motion: The Travels of Chicana and Latina Popular Culture (2005) received an MLA book prize honorable mention, and she is a co-author of American Sabor: U.S. Latinos in Popular Music (2017).
Aramis O. Hamer is a visual artist and muralist living in Seattle. Her subject matter is inspired by the cosmos, music, nature, divine femininity, and the complexities throughout the Black culture. With the supportive art community in the Pacific Northwest, Aramis has exhibited her colorful creations throughout the greater Seattle area, including the EMP Museum, Paramount Theater, Martyr Sauce Gallery, Columbia City Gallery, and more. Aramis created the iconic purple goddess in 2016 for KEXP at Seattle Center, which became a catalyst to her art career. You can find her designs all over the city, including Jimi Hendrix Park.
A native of Taiwan, Li-Cheng Hung is currently a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate in piano performance at the University of Washington School of Music, under the tutelage of Dr. Robin McCabe. She earned her Bachelor of Music degree from the National Taipei University of Education, and her Master of Music degree from the National Taiwan Normal University. Her past principal teachers include Chia-Chi Hsu, Ming-Hui Lin and Miyoko Lotto. The recipient of numerous awards, Li-Cheng has been the 1st prize of the 2014 Bradshaw and Buono International Piano Competition, which led to a solo performance in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall; a top prize winner at the University of Washington Concerto Competition, and performed with the University of Washington Symphony Orchestra.
Sara Porkalob is an award-winning storyteller and activist. She’s featured in Seattle Magazine’s “Most Influential People of 2018” and City Arts Magazine's 2017 "Futures List." Her musical Dragon Lady is a three-time 2018 Gregory Awards recipient for Outstanding Sound/Music Design, Outstanding Actress in a Musical, and Outstanding Musical Production. This year, she’s collaborating with the City of Seattle and their new Creative Strategies Initiative (CSI), a new City effort that uses arts- and culture-based approaches to build racial equity in non-arts policy areas like the environment, housing, workforce and community development.
Perri Rhoden is a visual artist who was born in Tacoma and raised in Seattle. While attending Howard University, she fell in love with figurative painting and celebrating her identity as Black Woman on canvas. Perri’s artistic process involves merging music, emotion, and visual references into various abstractions on canvas or paper. She is inspired by live music and concerts in the genres of hip-hop, soul, and trap EDM. She is actively involved in the city’s arts sector, participating in community-led art markets and events, teaching art classes, and assisting with the Seattle Arts Leadership Team in the Office of Arts and Culture.