Samina Aslam Headlines Portland Opera’s Production of Kamala Sankaram’s ‘Thumbprint’

By Nicolas Quiroga

Portland Opera will continue its 2022-23 season with “Thumbprint,” an opera inspired by the true story of Mukhtar Mai, written by composer Kamala Sankaram,

The work will be showcased on March 18, 22, 24 and 26, 2023 at the Newmark Theatre. Those unable to attend the live performance will have digital access for a limited time via Portland Opera Onscreen.

The cast will be led by soprano Samina Aslam who had previously performed this role with the Chautauqua Opera in 2022. She will be joined by Marian Anderson Kennedy Center Award-winning soprano Indira Mahajan, as well as Alok Kumar, Neil Balfour, Omar Najmi, and Leela Subramanian. Maria Badstue and Omer Ben Seadia directs.

“Thumbprint” based on the story of Mukhtar Mai who after surviving sexual violence perpetrated, decides to live, ultimately changing the world. She seeks to open a village school for girls to learn to read and write in order to save them from the humiliation of signing their names with only a thumbprint.

“We want to tell human stories that can empower, and lift up women,” said Portland Opera General Director Sue Dixon in an official press statement. “’Thumbprint’ does this beautifully when Mukhtar Mai chooses to advocate for her life over the tradition of suicide when dishonor comes to her Pakistani family. Her continued fight for justice for all women serves as a beacon of hope for those who find themselves in impossible situations. While this is one person’s story, we were drawn to the parallels across the globe where violence against women is prevalent. Mukhtar Mai’s courage and bravery in reclaiming autonomy over her body, and elevating her voice is inspiring.”