By Anisha C. ’18 and May H. ’18
On Thursday, September 7th, the seniors went to see “An American Dream” performed by the Seattle Opera at Washington Hall, a historic building built in 1908.
The opera was set in World War II during the internment of Japanese Americans. This made the venue of the performance especially appropriate, as it had been used as a reception center during World War II, a place where Japanese Seattleites had to register to be sent to internment camps.
The opera followed a young girl, Setsuko, and her family as they were forced to leave their home. The plot centered on Setsuko’s doll that she had hidden away before she was forced to leave. The doll was then found by Eva, a German immigrant who moved into the house after her husband pressured the Japanese American family into selling. Another key to the plot was the letter holding the fate of Eva’s Jewish family left behind in Germany, a letter which Setsuko had taken and kept before leaving. By the end of the opera, both women were reunited with their possessions in Setsuko’s childhood home, each by then having lost their parents to the Nazis or to bad health in the American camps.
The performance was well done and powerful. All the performers inhabited their characters with a lot of emotion, and sang very skillfully and energetically. This made the performance seem real and immediate, which was furthered by our being seated so close to the performance. An interesting choice had been to start the show with a video that showed testimonials of people who had lived during the war, which helped ground the opera in reality. The set and costumes were simple, but fit well with the period of the opera.
The performance exposed the difficulties that Japanese Americans had to face during World War II, and the importance of not making the same mistakes in current times. Both seniors enjoyed “An American Dream” and found it emotional, interesting, and fitting for what they are studying this year in American history.