January 10-21

Swann is an digital aria based on the legacy of William Dorsey Swann, a lesser known but crucial historical figure born into slavery in 1860. Swann came to be the first self-identified “queen of drag” in the US. He organized drag balls in Washington, DC in the latter part of the 19th century, and his arrest was the first in documented history for female impersonation. Swann was also the first American on record to pursue legal action to defend the right of LGBTQ people to gather. In this digitally native work, Tamar-kali and librettist Carl Hancock Rux present two worldviews to us simultaneously: one, a joyful party hosted by Swann, with his sentiments spoken by a rich baritone voice; and the other, the Voice of Judgement, the arresting officer, is hauntingly sung by a countertenor. Though the two world views are unreconcilable, here they coexist.

Lead image created by Sidewalkkilla


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Tamar-kali (Composer)

Carl Hancock Rux (Librettist)

James Blaszko (Director)