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Skylight Opera ​World Premiere Tackles Difficult Topic of Child Abuse

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Skylight Opera Theatre, Facebook
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The Snow Dragon

At first glance, you wouldn’t think the subject matter covered by The Snow Dragon would make a compelling opera.

But the world premiere production at Milwaukee’s Skylight Music Theatre takes a difficult topic - child abuse - and transforms it into a mesmerizing piece of theater.

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Credit Skylight Music Theatre
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Skylight Music Theatre

"It's a sad truth that 1 in 4 kids has dealt with domestic violence in some form or fashion...so it is a story that needs to be told and it's a conversation that we need to have," state director Matthew Ozawa says. "And it's sad that that's true, but this is a way to have a conversation around a beautiful work of art."

The Snow Dragon is based on a short story by the composer and librettist, Somtow Sucharitkul. It tells the story of the relationship between a counselor and physically abused foster child, whose anger has essentially created another world, called The Fallen Country.  It’s there that the child, Billy, has to defeat his demons so that he can address his real-life torment.

Lake Effect's Bonnie North met with Sucharitkul, Ozawa, and conductor and Skylight director Viswa Subbraman before a rehearsal at the Skylight to discuss the unique opera and the challenges of materializing a fantasy realm.

"It sort of straddles two worlds: you have a reality world and you also have a fantasy realm. And so bringing those to life through design is very exciting because it enables the opportunity to create something that obviously people have never seen or heard," Subbraman says. "...To then be able to experience ultimately what the piece is trying to say about the cycle of abuse and breaking that cycle and the road to healing and liberation."

The Snow Dragon runs until March 29th at the Broadway Theatre Center in Milwaukee's 3rd Ward.

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Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.