Breathing Free

About the Event

Yale Alumni College

Join Yale Alumni College for a virtual night out at the Heartbeat Opera. We’ll be hosted by Yale School of Drama lecturer, Ethan Heard ’07, ’13 MFA, and Co-Artistic Director Louisa Proske (YSD '12)for a private pre-performance reception and an extraordinary production called Breathing Free. Ethan Heard is the Founding Co-Artistic Director of the Heartbeat Opera Company, and the Director of Breathing Free, a curated song cycle featuring 9 interconnected music videos with excerpts from Beethoven's Fidelio, Negro spirituals, and works by Harry T. Burleigh, Florence Price, Langston Hughes, Anthony Davis, and Thulani Davis which together manifest a dream of justice, equity... and breathing free.

The performance will be followed by a panel discussion called Decolonizing Opera. In the wake of Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment periods, 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th-century opera rose to masterful heights with its dramaturgy of justice, freedom, and truth, while ignoring the Euro-American genocide and enslavement of over 12 million African people. How did opera participate by looking away? And what would decolonizing opera look like? Panelists include:


Private Conversation - Friday, December 11, 2020, at 7 p.m. eastern
Performance of Breathing Free - Friday, December 11, 2020, at 8 p.m. eastern*
*The presentation includes live opening remarks, nine related music videos, and a live panel discussion with special guests.
Please note: the private conversation event is sold out. You may still register to purchase tickets or join the waitlist. 

Register Now

Information Links

Breathing Free Cast
  • Meet the Cast

Cast of Breathing Free

Bass-Baritone // Derrell Acon
Tenor // Curtis Bannister
Soprano // Kelly Griffin
Dancer // Randy Castillo
Dancer // Tamrin Goldberg
Dancer // Brian HallowDreamz Henry

Also featuring the voices of more than 100 incarcerated singers and 70 volunteers from six prison choirs: Oakdale Community Choir, KUJI Men’s Chorus, UBUNTU Men’s Chorus, HOPE Thru Harmony Women’s Choir, East Hill Singers, and Voices of Hope

About Heartbeat Opera


From the drama at the core of each work, Heartbeat Opera grows vivid theatrical worlds through revelatory adaptations, radical rearrangements, and ingenious design. Through an inquisitive collaborative process with a diverse community of artists, we break down traditional barriers to reimagine opera for artists and audiences of the twenty-first century.


In its first six seasons, Heartbeat has presented twelve fully-realized productions, often featuring new chamber arrangements and English translations. Heartbeat adaptations, which can be seen as world premieres of classics, speak to the moment, here and now. Fidelio featured a primarily-Black cast and more than 100 incarcerated singers from six prison choirs. Carmen was set on the U.S./Mexico border and featured accordion, electric guitar, and saxophone. This spring, Heartbeat took Lady M, its adaptation of Verdi’s Macbeth, online and sold out 32 Virtual Soirées, reaching 740 households across 5 continents. Heartbeat has taken its productions to the Kennedy Center, BAM, and Chamber Music North West in Portland, Oregon. It staged the first-ever opera performance on The High Line and has mounted its immensely popular, interdisciplinary Halloween Drag Extravaganza each year since its founding, in iconic venues such as National Sawdust and Roulette.

Heartbeat has been hailed across the national and international press, including in three features in The New York Times, in stories on CNN and the BBC, and in an ALL ARTS/WNET documentary: “Bracing—icy vodka shots of opera instead of ladles of cream sauce” (New York Times), “elegant and boisterous” (New Yorker), “fascinating and gorgeous” (Observer), “ingenious” (Wall Street Journal), “gripping and entertaining” (Opernwelt), "a flat out triumph" (Opera News).

Heartbeat has collaborated with organizations such as Atlas DIY and A BroaderWay to bring opera education to young people in NYC. It is represented by the world-class artist agency Opus 3 Artists.

Learn more about Heartbeat Opera