Seattle Opera Calls for Personal Stories from Community

Seattle—Seattle Opera today announced Belonging(s), a new community engagement project that will use personal stories of Puget Sound area residents to create a new kind of homegrown opera.
The first phase of this multi-year project involves collecting hundreds of stories, each centering on a cherished belonging that embodies struggle, success, and identity.
Story collection is underway, and continues, in the coming weeks, at a Belonging(s) video booth in the lobby of McCaw Hall before each performance of Porgy and Bess.
“Opera is often described in terms of its component parts, or its 400-year old Western European history,” says Speight Jenkins, General Director of Seattle Opera. “I’m interested in finding ways that we can think more broadly about opera, as a celebration of the stories we share and the details that make us unique.”
Belonging(s) begins with a digital quilt—an online repository of videos created by you, your friends, and the people you pass on the street—that tell stories of our most precious possessions: those objects or memories that help us understand our lives, our relationships, and our legacies.
From the quilt will come a newly commissioned opera, to be produced in venues throughout the Puget Sound region.
A composer and librettist—to be identified in an upcoming announcement—will select a small number of stories from the quilt to create an opera that explores the time and place in which we live.
“Seattle Opera performs Wagner’s Ring cycle every four years,” says Seattle Opera Education Director Sue Elliott. “The magic ring is an object upon which an entire world projects its conflicts and history. Drawing inspiration from the Ring, we’re using stories of our most precious possessions to create new work as part of a local, communal arts practice, using ideas and images from you, your friends, and your neighbors.”

How To Partecipate

Share the story of your treasured keepsake by creating a brief video, no longer than three minutes, in which you show us your object (or a picture of it), and tell its story.
If your belonging is something intangible, i.e., a recipe or a song, feel free to describe it, cook it, or sing it.
Then, upload your video to the Belonging(s) digital quilt at
Seattle Opera’s Belonging(s) video booth will be open to collect stories in the lobby of McCaw Hall, beginning two hours before each upcoming performance of Porgy and Bess.
The company, with partner organization SIFF (Seattle International Film Festival), will also present several filmmaking workshops in the coming months and create a series of online how-to videos aimed at giving aspiring storytellers the tools to share stories of their belongings as part of the digital quilt.
Seattle Opera is partnering with several like-minded organizations on Belonging(s).
SIFF is co-producing the upcoming filmmaking workshops and online how-to-videos.
MOHAI, Seattle’s Museum of History & Industry, hosted an event in May 2011, part of its Open Forum Series, at which the first dozen stories were collected.
The museum is currently evaluating how they’ll use these and other videos as they prepare to move to the Armory Building in Lake Union Park in 2012.
And Writers in the Schools, a division of Seattle Arts and Lectures, is working with Seattle Opera to inspire young people to discover and develop their authentic writing and performance voices using themes central to the Belonging(s) project.
For more information about this project and Seattle Opera’s education and community engagement programming, please contact Sue Elliott, Education Director at Seattle Opera (206.389.7600 or to discuss potential partnerships.
Seattle Opera has received generous support for Belonging(s) from the Wallace Foundation and the True-Brown Foundation.

About Porgy and Bess

Seattle Opera’s upcoming production of Porgy and Bess stars local favorites Gordon Hawkins and Lisa Daltirus as the title characters, a handful of exciting young singers making Seattle debuts, and an all-local chorus.
This powerful story of life and love in an African-American community in South Carolina boasts some of the most beloved songs ever written, including “Summertime,” “I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin,’” “I Loves You, Porgy,” and “It Ain’t Necessarily So.” Porgy and Bess runs from Saturday, July 30, through Saturday, August 20.
Single tickets start at $25 and are available online at, by calling 206.389.7676 or 800.426.1619, or by mobile browser at
Tickets may also be purchased at the Box Office by visiting 1020 John Street (two blocks west of Fairview), Monday to Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

About Seattle Opera

Founded in 1963, Seattle Opera is one of the leading opera companies in the United States. The company is recognized internationally for its theatrically compelling and musically accomplished performances, especially the Opera’s interpretations of the works of Richard Wagner.
Since 1975, Seattle Opera has presented 38 cycles of the Ring (three different productions), in addition to acclaimed productions of all the other major operas in the Wagner canon.
Regionally vital, with robust education and community engagement programs, Seattle Opera has achieved the highest per capita attendance of any major opera company in the United States, and draws operagoers from four continents and 50 states.

Press Contacts:
Jonathan Dean

Tamara Vallejos

Visuals Contact:
Monte Jacobson


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