Tulsa Opera's Don Giovanni makes history with trans woman in title role
Baritone Lucia Lucas "will stun audiences with her fresh take on the philandering protagonist"
When the curtain rises on Tulsa Opera's production of Mozart's Don Giovanni on May 3, history will be made: the title role will be sung by Lucia Lucas, marking the first time a trans woman will perform a principal role on an operatic stage in the U.S.
An American baritone who has been based in Germany for the past decade, Lucas came out as trans in 2014, despite concerns about how it would affect her career. "All I could do was try and do my best and hope that my talent was good enough," she told NewNowNext. "It wasn't until I came out that I figured out I could [be transgender] and have a career at the same time."
In addition to this month's history-making Don Giovanni in Tulsa, she made her role debut as Wotan in Wagner's Die Walküre earlier this season at Theater Magdeburg. And she has confirmed that future role debuts include Verdi's Rigoletto and Balstrode in Britten's Peter Grimes.
Lucas is accustomed to playing villains — and men — on the operatic stage. "If you sing baritone, you can't always expect to be wearing a dress," she explains. "You're just going to have to be willing to have somebody draw a beard on you." And, as she notes on Twitter, Don Giovanni is one of opera's biggest creeps:
"I think that it's no big deal at all and a huge deal at the same time," Lucas told Operawire about her U.S. debut.
In a statement, Tulsa Opera's artistic director, composer Tobias Picker, promises, "Lucia's dominance of this art form, and of this opera in particular, combined with her unique life experience, will stun audiences with a fresh take on the philandering protagonist's conquests and ultimate demise."
Picker also draws attention to the coincidence of Lucas's debut and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots of 1969. "It would be ignoring the elephant in the room not to say [...] that this is extremely timely because Lucia's community is under siege and attack by the President of the United States," he notes, referring to President Donald Trump's recent restriction on transgender troops in the U.S. military.
Tulsa Opera will present two performances of Don Giovanni. In addition to Lucas, the cast includes Karlye Whitt (Donna Anna), Pamela Armstrong (Donna Elvira), Michael St. Peter (Don Ottavio), Anthony Clark Evans (Leporello) and Jana McIntyre (Zerlina). The production is directed by Denni Sayers; Andres Cladera conducts.