Heartbeat Opera to Present West Coast Premiere of ‘Breathing Free’

By David Salazar

Heartbeat Opera will present the west coast premiere of “Breathing Free” on Feb. 10 and 13.

The film cycle will be presented as a 45-minute visual album featuring bass-baritone Derrell Acon, tenor Curtis Bannister, soprano Kelly Griffin, dancers Randy Castillo, Tamrin Goldberg, Brian HallowDreamz Henry, and a number of instrumentalists. The videos will also feature the voices of over 100 incarcerated singers and 70 volunteers from six prison choirs.

The entire album was rehearsed remotely via Zoom with each cast member recording his or her individual tracks at home.

“‘Breathing Free’ is about expanding our definition of ‘the canon’ and celebrating the voices of Black artists—onstage and behind the scenes,” said Heartbeat Opera Co-Artistic Director Ethan Heard in a press release. “We have assembled a wonderful team of 30 collaborators, the majority of whom are Black, and we are connecting with dozens of students, primarily Black, brown, and people of color. Every day in rehearsal, the words and music of the songs in ‘Breathing Free’ remind us of our problems and our purpose.”