Until the Trans Lady Sings lies at the other end of the scale, running from questioning to embracing one’s identity. In this 12-minute upbeat piece, with music performed by Manchester Contemporary Youth Opera, gender-fluid spoken-word artist and performance poet Alice d’Lumiere outlines her musical ups and downs before declaring her commitment to learn to sing in a year. She does so with disarming wit and with the help of poems, an impression or two and a burst of the Moonlight Sonata. Who knows what she – and Tête à Tête – might bring next year?
Tête à Tête: The Opera Festival has returned for the fourteenth time to present a diverse programme of work with a strong focus on resilience in the wake of the arts being silenced due to the pandemic. Adding to the festival’s presentation of emerging operatic talent is the double bill of Alice d’Lumiere’s overture, Until the Trans Lady Sings – An Autobiographical Spoken Word Opera and EXPO MCYO: A Thread Through Change.
Opening the show, Alice d’Lumiere presents us with a ‘statement of intent’: her avid desire to learn to sing. More specifically, to sing opera. In proposing this predicament, d’Lumiere interweaves stories of her childhood with vital commentary on how gender codes are applied to voices. Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass – these classifiers indicate more than just one’s vocal range.
This is why d’Lumiere has turned to opera, which appears to offer more space for gender-fluidity than traditional chorale singing. However, archaic methods of gender-bending, namely men playing washerwomen and witches, both exist and dominate the mainstream opera scene, and so d’Lumiere has some work to do to redefine the roles that she wants to play, making them her own.
This humorous, heart-warming overture presents us with a promising work-in-progress; a project that I would love to see come to fruition. Hopefully, d’Lumiere’s quest will lead to her returning to the festival in 2022 with a full show. Because of course, ‘the score isn’t settled until the Trans Lady sings.’