Portland Opera to Go has commissioned Kenji Oh and Dmae Lo Roberts’ “Shizue: An American Story.”
The company will present the opera in the Fall of 2024.
The new work tells the story of artist Shizue Iwatsuki who had to deal with American concentration camps alongside other Japanese Americans during World War II.
“It is an honor to be part of this meaningful project that tells stories that should be told, with the power of opera” Kenji Oh said in an official press statement issued by the company. “I sometimes consider music as a tool/device, composing as designing. I’m excited to design this new opera that serves the community and has a social impact for a better world. I’m so glad for this opportunity that encouraged me to learn deeply about the history of Japanese Americans. Growing up as a third-generation immigrant in Japan and living in the US as a Shin-Issei (a first-generation immigrant after WW2), I’ve been exploring Japanese culture through music in different ways, looking into traditions, the beauty of nature, historical events, and Japanese-ness within myself. I’m thrilled to share the story of Shizue with the audience through my music.”
This opera is the second of Portland Opera’s Our Oregon Project which commissions youth operas that explore the experience of Oregonians through numerous lenses. The first was “Beatrice,” a work that spotlighted the story of Beatrice Morrow Cannady.