State of Art: Anchorage Opera’s ‘Missing’

(Image courtesy of Anchorage Opera)

This week on State of Art we’re learning about Anchorage Opera’s upcoming production of “Missing” and its U.S. premier. The plot centers around the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls and was written by First Nations playwright Marie Clements and Juno award-winning composer Brian Current. The story follows Native Girl, who was murdered and discarded by the roadside, and Ava, a white woman who discovers the girl’s body and sets out on a path to find greater empathy and understanding. We’re joined by Melody Courage, who plays Native Girl, and Kate Bass, who plays Ava, to find out more.

“Missing” runs March 10, 11 and 12 at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts. There will also be a free private performance for survivors & families of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls on Mar 8 to honor the victims.

Melody Courage: Métis soprano Melody Courage gained national attention as The Native Girl “…played with ethereal grace…” in the 2017 world premiere of Marie Clements and Brian Current’s opera Missing, co-produced by City Opera Vancouver and Pacific Opera Victoria. Missing gives voice, in English and Gitxsan, to the story of Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous women. Vancouver-based Melody, of Dene, Cree and Chipewyan descent, is much in demand by composers, with recent performances in Heart of the North (Neil Weisensel, Susanne Steele) written in languages of the Métis – Saulteaux, Michif and French, premiered by Regina Symphony Orchestra. During the pandemic, Melody premiered Ian Cusson’s In Winter with the Canadian Opera Company in their digital concert series and was a guest artist at National Indigenous Peoples Day in June 2022, broadcast on APTN. Engagements for Melody in the current season include her debut as Chrisann in Calgary Opera’s production of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, Messiah with Vancouver Bach Choir, and a recital with Marion Newman, Evan Korbut and pianist Gordon Gerrard with Toronto’s Music in the Afternoon. Melody sings the role of Countess in scenes from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro with Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. In Toronto, Melody starred in Two Odysseys: Pimooteewin/Gállábártnit, presented by Soundstreams Canada and Signal Theatre, directed by Michael Greyeyes/Cole Alvis, composed by Melissa Hui/Britta Byström. These two operas, sung in Cree and Sàmi, are rooted in traditional tales from Canada and Nordic countries.

Kate Bass: Kate Bass, originally from Anchorage Alaska, has appeared on stage as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic, at Carnegie Hall, as well as on and off-Broadway for Emmy and Tony Award-nominated productions. She has recorded for film scores winning awards at both the Austin Film Festival and the Milan International Film Festival. Kate was the soprano soloist for Iranian musician Hafez Nazeri’s Grammy-nominated SONY Worldwide album “Untold” with the Rumi Symphony. She has toured internationally singing Gilbert and Sullivan, performing as Josephine in H.M.S. Pinafore with the Colorado Symphony, Wolf Trap Opera, and the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players. As a singer-songwriter, Kate has four albums released; her first single aired on radio in 2013. She has been hailed by the press as “easy to love,” “infectious,” and “one of the best vocalists on the scene today.” Kate taught on vocal faculty at Pepperdine University, and now leads masterclasses, songwriting workshops, and cross-cultural projects around the globe for organizations such as the Girl Scouts, the Metropolitan Opera Guild, Classical Singer Magazine, and American Voices. Her original cross-cultural collaborative musical project, “Conversations,” had its inaugural performance through the US Embassy in Kampala, Uganda this January 2023, and will continue to Rwanda this May. She arrives in Anchorage fresh off the plane from a performance with the Turkmen National Orchestra in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. Last seen on the Anchorage Opera stage as “Mabel” in The Pirates of Penzance, Kate is thrilled to be back in her beloved hometown.

Anchorage Opera

Ammon Swenson is Alaska Public Media’s Audio Media Content Producer. He was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska. He graduated from UAA in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and integrated media. He’s previously worked for KRUA radio, the Anchorage Press, and The Northern Light.

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