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Music & Concerts

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D.C. is always home to more concerts than you could possibly write about. Here are some of the season’s highlights.

Barns at Wolf Trap
1645 Trap Rd.
Vienna, Va. 22182

Spring highlights:

Antares -March 19

Jeri Sager – March 20

HAPA -March 23-24

Bastianello & Lucrezia -March 26

John Eaton -March 27

Shemekia Copeland -March 28

Richard Marx and Matt Scannell -April 6

Ruthie Foster and John Hammond -April 7

Moya Brennan -April 8

Los Angeles Guitar Quartet -April 9

Julie Murphy Wells -April 10

The Bad Plus -April 13

Livingston Taylor -April 15-16

Luke Brindley -April 22

Lucy Kaplansky -April 23

Buskin & Batteau -April 24

The Bobs -April 28

John McCutcheon -April 29

Bonnie Rideout -April 30

For more information: 703-255-1900 or wolf-trap.org

Black Cat
1811 14th St. N.W.
Washington D.C. 20009

Spring highlights:

Black Lips, Box Elders, The Vermilions -March 19

Close to the Edge featuring DJ Dredd -March 19

Fruit Bats, Blue Giant, The Singleman Affair -March 20

Right Round featuring DJ lilíe -March 20

Magik Markers, Buildings -March 21

The Ruby Suns, Toro y Moi -March 24

Jukebox The Ghost, Tally Hall, Skybox -March 25

The Saturday Night Dance Party -March 27

The So So Glos, The Pharmacy -March 28

The Smith Westerns, So Cow, The Cheniers -April 1

Sorted with DJ Stereo Faith -April 2

HomoSonic -April 4

Tim Barry, Red Clay River -April 5

Exit Clov, Gringo Star -April 8

High on Fire, Priestess, Black Cobra, Bison B.C. -April 11

Freddie T & The People, Brandon Bulter -April 12

Shortstack, Birds of Avalon, Suns of Guns -April 16

Ugly Purple Sweater, La Strada, Lucia Lucia -April 20

Bitch -April 29

Echo & The Bunnymen -April 30

These United States, The Mother Hips -May 15

Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra -May 19

For more information: 202-667-4490 or blackcatdc.com

Blues Alley
1073 Wisconsin Ave. N.W.
Washington D.C. 20007

Spring highlights:

Earl Klugh -March 20

Swing Shift -March 21

Sherrie Maricle & The Diva Jazz Trio -March 22

Gregg Karukas -March 23

Nicole Henry -March 24

Stanley Jordan -March 28

The Outer Bridge Ensemble -March 29

Dan Leonard -April 6

Dani Cortaza -April 7

Bucky Pizzarelli -April 8-10

James Madison High School Band -April 11

Richard Montgomery High School -April 12

Columbia Jazz Band -April 12

The Dave Brubeck Quartet -April 16-18

The World Famous Count Basie Orchestra -April 20-25

Yellowjackets -May 6-8

Teri S -May 12

Larry Coryell Power Trio -May 13-16

Marcus Young -May 18

Spyro Gyra -May 20-23

John Eaton -May 25

For more information: 703-549-7500 or bluesalley.com

DAR Constitution Hall
1776 D St., N.W.
Washington D.C. 20006

Spring highlights:

Fresh Fest with Salt-N-Pepa -March 20

The Moody Blues -March 26

Vampire Weekend -April 3

Phoenix -April 26

For more information: 202-628-1776 or dar.org/conthall

DC9
1940 Ninth St. N.W.
Washington D.C. 20009

Spring highlights:

Bonjour, Ganesh! -March 20

Barefoot Truth -March 21

My Disco -March 23

Miles Kurosky of Beulah -March 24

Natalia Clavier -March 27

A Sunny Day In Glasgow -March 28

today the moon, tomorrow the sun -March 29

The Appleseed Cast -April 13

The Mary Onettes -April 20

The Points -April 22

Nouveau Riche -April 24

Captured! By Robots -May 4

Eluvium -May 17

For more information: 202-483-5000 or dcnine.com

DC Center
1810 14th St. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20009

Tom Goss Live: Launching his new Marriage Equality EP Politics of Love -April 1

For more information: 202-682-2245 or thedccenter.org

Folger Elizabethan Theatre
201 East Capitol St., S.E.
Washington D.C. 20003

Spring highlights:

Ballets and Brawls: French Music of Court and Countryside -March 19-March 21

A Musical Banquet: Songs for Lute, Voice and Viol -April 9-April 11

For more information: 202-544-7077 or folger.edu

GMU Center For The Arts
4373 Mason Pond Dr.
Fairfax, VA 22030

Spring highlights:

Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra with Lang Lang -April 3

GMU Percussion Ensemble Concert -April 6

GMU Chamber Orchestra -April 13

Academy of St. Martin in the Fields -April 23-25

GMU Wind Symphony and Symphonic Band Spring Concert -April 27

Flutopia Flute Choir -May 4

For more information: 888-945-2468 or gmu.edu/cfa

Iota Restaurant & Bar
2832 Wilson Blvd
Arlington, VA 22201

Spring highlights:

Tom McBride and the Whig Party -March 19

Dead Heart Bloom with Aaron Thompson -March 20

David Ford -March 21

Amy Sullivan and the Whiskey Darlings -March 22

Justin Trawick -April 2

The U-Liners -April 3

El Ten Eleven -April 6

Caravan of Thieves -April 8

The Walkaways -April 24

Red Elvises -May 1

For more information: 703-522-8340 or iotaclubandcafe.com

Jammin’ Java
227 Maple Ave. E.
Vienna, VA 22180

Spring highlights:

Steve Forbert -March 19

Dreaming of Eden + The Chuck Shaffer Picture Show -March 19

Al Petteway and Amy White -March 21

Collective Change – Haiti Benefit Concert -March 23

Jim Weiderís Project Percolator -March 24

The Hint -March 26

Sara Borges and the Broken Singles -March 26

Bill Emerson and Sweet Dixie Band -March 28

Army of Me -March 28

Pierre Bensusan -March 31

Benjy Davis Project -April 1

DC101ís Last Band Standing -April 6, April 13, April 21, April 27

Sara Watkins -April 20

Adrian Belew -April 22

Faze Electro Dance Party with Menya and Ypset and Santi -April 24

Graham Parker and the Figgs -May 1

Michelle Shocked -May 7

Boys Will Be Boys -May 8

Aqualung -May 9

Dan Navarro -May 14

Crash Test Dummies -May 16

For more information: 703-255-1566 or jamminjava.com

Kennedy Center
2700 F St. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20566

Spring highlights:

The Washington Chorus performs Mozartís Requiem -March 26, Concert Hall

Vocal Arts Society: America Sings Festival Showcase -April 10, Concert Hall

Marietta Simpson -April 21, Concert Hall

Gospel Across America Special -April 24, Concert Hall

Escher Quartet -April 26, Concert Hall

Barbara Cookís Broadway Spotlight: Laura Benanti -April 30, Terrace

Vocal Arts Society: Christine Brewer and Craig Rutenberg -May 7, Concert Hall

Jennifer Koh and Reiko Uchida -May 9, Concert Hall

Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival -May 20-May 22, Terrace

For more information: 202-467-4600 or kennedy-center.org

Lisner Auditorium
730 21st St., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20052

Spring highlights:

Grease: The Gay Men’s Chourus of Washington presents a fully staged, all-male production of thie Broadway musical -March 19 thru March 21

Angelique Kidjo -March 27

Caetano Veloso -April 10

Rokia Traore -April 11

Time Machine -Mashina Vremeni -April 13

Music from the Crooked Road: Mountain Music of Virginia -April 16

Joe Bonamassa -April 23

Baaba Maal -April 29

The Fab Faux -May 22

For more information: 202-994-6800 or lisner.org

The Library of Congress-Thomas Jefferson Building
10 First St. S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20003

Spring highlights:

Jean-Guihen Queyras and Alexandre Tharaud -March 12

Curtis Contemporary Music Ensemble -March 15

Voces Intimae -March 26

Juilliard String Quartet -April 9

Henschel Quartet -April 14

Alexander String Quartet, Afiara String Quartet -April 16

Jack Quartet -April 30

Woodley Ensemble -May 14

Ensemble Caprice -May 28

Mahan Esfahani -May 29

For more information: 202-707-8000 or loc.gov/concerts

Lyric Opera House
140 West Mount Royal Ave.
Baltimore, Md. 21201

Spring highlights:

Norah Jones -March 30

David Gray -March 31

Angie Stone and Leela James -April 17

For more information: 410-685-5086 or lyricoperahouse.com

Merriweather Post Pavilion
10475 Little Patuxent Parkway
Columbia, MD 21044

Spring highlights:

My Morning Jacket -May 1

Sugarland -May 16

The Bamboozle Roadshow featuring All Time Low and Boys Like Girls -May 21

For more information: 800-551-SEAT or merriweathermusic.com

Music Center at Strathmore
5301 Tuckerman Lane
North Bethesda, MD 20852

Spring highlights:

The Celtic Tenors -March 12

Ari Allal -March 24

Naomi Kudo -March 25

US Royalty with DJ Will Eastman -March 26

Tom Wopat -March 28

David Garrett -March 31

E.M. Spencer -April 2

Sezen Aksu -April 4

Gato & the Palenke Music Co. -April 9

George Winston, A Solo Piano Concert -April 9

Romeo and Julia Koren -April 13

Songs of the Earth: Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day -April 23

Patti LuPone presents ìThe Gypsy in my Soulî for Strathmoreís 2010 Spring Gala -April 24

Nancy Wilson -May 7

An Evening with Rosanne Cash and Mark OíConnor -May 8

For more information: 301-581-5100 or strathmore.org

National Philharmonic-Music Center at Strathmore
5301 Tuckerman Lane
North Bethesda, MD 20852

Spring highlights:

All Brahms -March 20, March 21

Brahms Requiem -March 27

From Mozart to Mahler -April 17, April 18

Vivaldiís Gloria -May 1

The Polish Masters and Schumann -May 22

For more information: 301-493-9283 or nationalphilharmonic.org

Ram’s Head Live
20 Market Place
Baltimore, MD 21202

Spring highlights:

Charm City Devils -March 19

Mat Kearney & Ingrid Michaelson -March 20

Ben Folds -March 24

Mr. Greengenes -March 26

Julian Casablancas -March 28

The Fabulous Thunderbirds -March 31

The Big Pink with A Place To Bury Strangers -April 1

Artic Monkeys -April 7

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony -April 8

Steel Panther -April 9

Hotspur -April 10

2U: U2 tribute band -April 17

Mastodon -April 20

Jakob Dylan and Three Legs -April 22

Josh Gracin -April 23

Gogol Bordello -April 29-30

Who ís Bad: A Michael Jackson Tribute Band -May 1

Charlie Mars -May 12

Get the Led Out -May 15

For more information: 410-244-1131 or ramsheadlive.com

Ram’s Head on Stage
33 West St.
Annapolis, MD 21401

Spring highlights:

Eddie from Ohio -March 19-20

The Machine Unplugged -March 20

Amos Lee -March 20

Celtic Crossroads -March 21

HAPA -March 22

Ledisi -March 27

Tower of Power -March 28

Alice Smith -March 31

Pat McGee -April 1

Rhett Miller -April 3

Keith Emerson & Greg Lake -April 5

Christopher Cross -April 10

Joan Osborne -April 11

Gary Wright -April 15

Sonny Landreth -April 16

Lalah Hathaway -April 18

Swing Out Sister -April 20

Ambrosia -April 21

Colin Hay -April 25

The Church -April 27

Mick Taylor -May 6

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings -May 7

Sia -May 8

Chris Botti -May 10-11

Vonda Shepard -May 12

Phil Vassar -May 14-15

Beth Nielsen Chapman -May 24

Toad the Wet Sprocket -May 29

For more information: 410-268-4545 or ramsheadonstage.com

Rock & Roll Hotel
1353 H St. N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20002

Spring highlights:

Junior League Band -March 19

Epic Dance Party with DJ Doc Rok -March 19

Garutachi with DJ Austin and DJ Ca$$idy -March 20

Bio Ritmo -March 20

Solar Powered Sun Destroyer -March 25

Shearwater, Wye Oak and Hospital Ships -March 26

Woods, Real Estate, Surf City -March 27

Japandroids, Love Is All, Tennis System -March 29

Gang Gang Dance, Highlife -March 30

Rattler -April 3

100 Monkeys -April 7

Pants Velour, Fuzzy G, The Canon Logic -April 10

ThíLegendary Shack*Shakers -April 13

Liars, Fol Chen -April 14

Trams Am, Nice Nice, Jonas Reinhardt -April 15

Mixtape -April 17

The Apples In Stereo -April 18

The Blue Line, Poor But Sexy, Drunk Tigers -April 23

Amanda Blank -April 24

Free Lobster Buffet -April 30

The Album Leaf, Sea Wolf -May 4

Imperial China -May 7

Patrick Wilson, Dovemen -May 8

Caribou, Toro Y Moi -May 10

Greg Laswell -May 24

Cobra Collective, Death by Sexy, Dead Heart Bloom -May 28

Black Dog Prowl -May 29

For more information: 202-388-ROCK or rockandrollhoteldc.com

The Birchmere
3701 Mt. Vernon Ave.
Alexandria, VA 22305

Spring highlights:

Average White Band -March 19-20

David Wilcox & Patty Larkin -March 21

Jonathan Butler -March 23

Carrie Newcomer & Peter Mayer -March 25

Jonatha Brooke & Lori McKenna -March 26

Ashford & Simpson -March 27

Anuhea & The Green -March 29

Bob Schneider -March 30

Robert Earl Keen -March 31

Keller Williams -April 2

Vivian Green -April 5

Keith Emerson & Greg Lake -April 6

Lizz Wright -April 7

Joan Osborne -April 8

Christopher Cross -April 9

Fourplay -April 12

Todd Rundgrenís Johnson -April 13

Michael McDonald -April 15

Guy Clark -April 17

Angie Stone -April 18

Swing Out Sister -April 19

The Wailiní Jennys -April 20

Colin Hay -April 23-24

Gentlemen of the Night -April 25

America: 40th Anniversary Tour -April 30, May 1

The English Beat -May 3

Kathy Mattea -May 6

Shawn Colvin -May 7

Shelby Lynne -May 11

Iris Dement -May 13

Chatham County Line -May 14

Virginia Coalition -May 15

Sweet Honey in the Rock -May 21-22

Toad the Wet Sprocket -May 27-28

Sonny Landreth & Tom Principato -May 29

Alex Bugnon -May 30

For more information: 703-549-7500 or birchmere.com

The Red & The Black
1212 H St. N.E.
Washington D.C., 20002

Spring highlights:

The Pubcrawlers -March 15

Rest Assured -March 17

Bellmer Dolls -March 19

One for the Team, The Prisms -March 21

YARN, Sgt Dunbar The Hobo Banned, Andrew Karnavas -March 25

Ravenous, FOX Japan, Caustic Casanova -March 26

Benyaro, Chris Merritt -March 28

Andalusian Dog -April 1

Shapiro, The Winter Sounds, Achtung Panda -April 4

East Coast Caravan -April 9

The Honeyguns -April 10

Lake Street Dive -April 13

Jounce -April 15

Horsehead -April 16

Deleon -April 17

For more information: 202-399-3201 or redandblackbar.com

The State Theatre
220 N. Washington St.
Falls Church, VA 22046

Spring highlights:

The Legwarmers -March 19-20

Tower of Power -March 26

Divas of Pop Dance Party -March 27

Rebirth Brass Band -March 31

The Soft Parade: The most authentic tribute to the Doors-April 2

The Legendary Rhythm and Blues Revue -April 3

Easy Star All-Stars -April 4

Anonymous -April 8

Cherry Poppin Daddies -April 15

Jimmy Thackery & The Drivers -April 18

Cowboy Junkies -April 23

The Machine -April 24

The Church -April 25, April 27

Taj Mahal Trio -May 1

Sematic and Charm City Devils -May 7

Donna The Buffalo -May 14

For more information: 703-237-0300 or thestatetheatre.com

Verizon Center
601 F St. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20004

Spring highlights:

Alicia Keys -March 25

Bon Jovi with Dashboard Confessional -March 29

Nickelback -April 13

For more information: 202-628-3200 or verizoncenter.com

Warner Theatre
513 13th St., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20004

Spring Lineup:

Norah Jones -April 2

Trans-Siberian Orchestra -April 11

Widespread Panic -April 20-21

Elvis Costello & The Sugarcanes -April 22

Mark Knopfler -May 2

For more information: 202-397-SEAT or warnertheatre.com

9:30 Club
815 V St., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001

Spring highlights:

Anvil w/Misstallica -March 20

The Dan Band -March 27

Wiz Khalifa -March 28

Nada Surf -April 2

Wale & KíNaan -April 4

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club -April 5

The Temper Tramp and Florence & The Machine -April 6

King Sunny Ade -April 7

Mayhem -April 7

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists -April 8

NEEDTOBREATHE w/Will Hoge & Matt Hires -April 9

US Air Guitar -April 10

Pick Up The Phone Tour featuring Blue October -April 11

George Clinton and PFunk -April 12

Badfish -April 14

Martin Sexon -April 16

Jedi Mind Tricks -April 17

Kidz In The Hall -April 18

The Disco Biscuits -April 20

Rock Bottom Remainders -April 21

Jovanotti -April 22

Jakob Dylan -April 23

AP Tour: Never Shout Never, Hey Monday, The Cab, Every Avenue, The Summer Set -April 25

Ozomatli -April 28

Motion City Soundtrack -April 28

Kaki King -April 29

Citizen Cope -April 30, May 1

Shout Out Louds -May 2

Sia -May 4

Corinne Bailey Rae -May 13

Dr. Dog w/ Deer Tick -May 14

For more information: 202-265-0930 or 930.com

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Music & Concerts

Madonna announces ‘Celebration’ world tour

D.C. stop planned for Sept. 2

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(Screen capture via YouTube)

Madonna announced a new world tour on Tuesday via video parody of her 1991 “Truth or Dare” in which friend Amy Schumer dares the pop superstar to go on tour and perform her greatest hits. Madonna accepts the challenge.

The NSFW video features Judd Apatow, Jack Black, Diplo, Lil Wayne, Bob the Drag Queen, and Schumer, among others. 

The 35-city tour kicks off on July 15 in Vancouver, BC with stops around the country, including Sept. 2 in D.C. The tour also heads to Europe, starting with the O2 Arena in London on Oct. 14 and ending in Amsterdam on Dec. 1. The tour is produced by Live Nation. Bob the Drag Queen was announced as special guest on all dates.

“I am excited to explore as many songs as possible in hopes to give my fans the show they have been waiting for,” Madonna said in a statement. She said the tour will feature 40 years of her greatest hits, something she has resisted in the past, while also paying tribute to the role New York City played in launching her career.

Madonna is the latest in a string of ‘80s icons to hit the road in 2023 after three years of COVID cancellations. Janet Jackson announced her “Together Again Tour,” which kicks off in April and stops in Baltimore on May 13 and Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, Va., on May 6; Bruce Springsteen’s tour kicks off next month with a March 27 stop in D.C.; and Billy Joel and Stevie Nicks last week announced a joint tour stop in Baltimore on Oct. 7. 

The 2023 Celebration tour North American dates:

July 15 – Vancouver, BC @ Rogers Arena

July 18 – Seattle, WA @ Climate Pledge Arena

July 22 – Phoenix, AZ @ Footprint Center

July 25 – Denver, CO @ Ball Arena

July 27 – Tulsa, OK @ BOK Center

July 30 – St. Paul, MN @ Xcel Energy Center

August 2 – Cleveland, OH @ Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse

August 5 – Detroit, MI @ Little Caesars Arena

August 7 – Pittsburgh, PA @ PPG Paints Arena

August 9 – Chicago, IL @ United Center

August 13 – Toronto, ON @ Scotiabank Arena

August 19 – Montreal, QC @ Centre Bell

August 23 – New York, NY @ Madison Square Garden

August 24 – New York, NY @ Madison Square Garden

August 30 – Boston, MA @ TD Garden

Sept. 2 – Washington, DC @ Capital One Arena

Sept. 5 – Atlanta, GA @ State Farm Arena

Sept. 7 – Tampa, FL @ Amalie Arena

Sept. 9 – Miami, FL @ Miami-Dade Arena

Sept. 13 – Houston, TX @ Toyota Center

Sept. 18 – Dallas, TX @ American Airlines Center

Sept. 21 – Austin, TX @ Moody Center ATX

Sept. 27 – Los Angeles, CA @ Crypto.com Arena

Oct. 4 – San Francisco, CA @ Chase Center

Oct. 7 – Las Vegas, NV @ T-Mobile Arena

European Dates: 

Oct. 14 – London, UK @ The O2

Oct. 21 – Antwerp, BE @ Sportpaleis

Oct. 25 – Copenhagen, DK @ Royal Arena

Oct. 28 – Stockholm, SE @ Tele2

Nov. 1 – Barcelona, ES @ Palau Sant Jordi

Nov. 6 – Lisbon, PT @ Altice Arena

Nov. 12 – Paris, FR @ Accor Arena

Nov. 13 – Paris, FR @ Accor Arena

Nov. 15 – Cologne, DE @ Lanxess Arena

Nov. 23 – Milan, IT @ Mediolanum Forum

Nov. 28 – Berlin, DE @ Mercedes-Benz Arena

Dec. 1 – Amsterdam, NL @ Ziggo Dome

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Music & Concerts

New opera chronicles beauty and power of trans liberation

Don’t miss ‘What the Spirits Show’ at Washington National Opera

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Kimberly Reed, Cecelia Raker, Jens Ibsen, Walken Schweigert, Carlos Simon, Silen Wellington, B.E. Boykin, Jarrod Lee, Kelley Rourke in ‘What the Spirits Show.’ (Photo by Caitlin Oldham)

The value of the support of family. The oppression of trans identity. The euphoria and spiritual power of trans liberation. These themes and more are woven into a poignant new opera, “What the Spirits Show,” by composer-librettist team Silen Wellington and Walken Schweigert.

Their collaboration is the product of the Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative (AOI). Now celebrating its 10th season, AOI pairs talented creatives to develop a short, one-act opera, performed by WNO’s Cafritz Young Artists. Along the way, the creative teams receive invaluable mentorship from some of the best in the business. 

This year’s AOI performance takes place on January 21, 2023 at the Terrace Theater of the Kennedy Center. Also on the program are Oshun, with music by B.E. Boykin, and libretto by Jarrod Lee—a journey of sacrifice, self-love and redemption displayed in the face of those who would deny it. And Bubbie and the Demon, with music by Jens Ibsen and libretto by Cecelia Raker—a mashup of opera and heavy metal, which finds that Bubbie has filled the void of Covid isolation by solving as many word searches and crosswords as possible, but accidentally summoned a demon. 

The Washington Blade caught up with librettist Walken Schweigert and composer Silen Wellington, the co-creators of What the Spirits Show, to learn more about this short opera and its powerful themes.

BLADE: Congratulations on creating the original work, “What the Spirits Show.” Can you share more about the opera’s plot and musical style?

WALKEN SCHWEIGERT: It’s an opera about trans liberation, but also about friendship and the support of family. There are four characters: the protagonist, named Calamus, is a shape-shifting youth who takes a magical elixir to be themselves. Their shape-shifting is an allegory for transness. When you first meet Calamus, they have already been taking this medicine, so you meet Calamus in the fullness of themself. But then this politician enters the scene and he outlaws the elixir, claiming that it’s immoral. But the beautiful thing is that Calamus’ mother stands up for them, and because of that they both get thrown in jail. Since Calamus has stopped taking the elixir, they basically begin detransitioning. But then their friend, Sylvan, is able to sneak in some elixir to Calamus. And the strength and the power of Calamus coming back to themself is so powerful that it destroys the jail and traps the politician under the rubble, and Calamus and their mother are able to escape. It’s a moment of joy, it’s a moment of euphoria, it’s a moment of self-reclamation.

SILEN WELLINGTON: The characters themselves each have their own musical language. And musically, each scene is its own world. The first scene is all about Calamus and their shape-shifting. The music is very whimsical, beautiful and romantic. The second scene is all about the politician. His music is much more circus-like; almost like a lopsided march. In the third scene, when Calamus and Aurora are in the prison, the music is a little bit more restricted, but it still hearkens back to some of that fantastical and musical language from the opening scene. The fourth scene is really where it all comes together. Sylvan comes and helps Calamus break out of jail, so the music is more driving and rock-influenced, because in Walken’s words, Sylvan is Calamus’s “anarcho-punk friend.” And then finally, once Calamus returns to their power, we return to the fantastical music at the beginning. 

BLADE: Can you share why you wanted to write this opera? Have its themes affected you personally?

WELLINGTON: I wouldn’t write this opera if it didn’t affect me personally. That could probably be my artist statement! It’s the subtext of why I make art. I write about things that personally affect me and I always have. 

In my own journey to figuring out that I was trans and nonbinary, it took me a while to find self-acceptance and then find self-love. I wanted to write something that gave space for that love. I knew I was queer from a pretty young age, but I didn’t realize being transgender was an option. As a result, I had this unnamable sadness in me that made most things in my life feel wrong, and I spent most of my teenage years battling suicidality and depression because I couldn’t see a future for myself. 

I was 19 when I first met nonbinary adults, and that really started to turn things around for me. It sparked a journey of self-discovery. I feel like now I’m in a place of self-love and acceptance, trying to find words to express how spiritual and divine I find the experience of being trans to be.

The first time I read Walken’s libretto, I remember feeling this swell of emotion and recognition thinking, “I’ve been trying to find words for this all my life. And wow, now I get to say it with the music!”

SCHWEIGERT: When I first started making art, a lot of it was trauma porn, because of how I was raised in a religiously restrictive mindset. But now, I try to explore what gifts being trans has bestowed and bring those to light. I’m also interested in exploring why are we such a threat? Why are people so afraid of us? And I think it’s because we actually have something really powerful. There’s actual spiritual value and knowledge that comes from being trans.

BLADE: Why is this opera important now?

SCHWEIGERT: This opera was very much directly inspired by a letter the governor of Texas wrote last year to the Texas’ Department of Family and Protective Services re-interpreting the law to include trans affirming care under the definition of child abuse. Governor Abbott was trying to separate trans kids from their supportive parents. It made me think of how much it would have meant to me to have supportive parents, and then to have that be taken away, stolen by the state, was heart wrenching to imagine. I think of the relationship that I have with my parents now and imagine the pain that would be caused to them if I were young and they were being forced to separate from me.  

In this opera, there is a scene of Calamus and their mother Aurora in the jail, and they’re singing this song together, but they’re in separate cells and they can’t hear each other. Especially in that scene, I really wanted Aurora, Calamus’s mother, to say all of the things that I wish my parents had said to me when I was a teenager and coming out: “…my dear Calamus, I have to trust you know yourself better than I ever could. I love you more than I could ever say. And as long as I hold breath, I will not let them tear you away from yourself.”

It’s a powerful moment for me. My parents are Catholic and that was at the root of a lot of their own internalized and externalized transphobia. But now my dad is part of a group at his church that is drafting a statement of trans-inclusion. He wanted to contribute, hey, God actually doesn’t think that trans people are abominations, and also that there’s spiritual knowledge and spiritual value that trans people bring by nature of being trans. 

WELLINGTON: Beyond the gender and celebratory spiritual themes of the opera, this project has really given me space to process some of the hatred that’s been surrounding and sometimes feeling like it’s narrowing in on my world; the national uptick in LGBTQ+ hatred and anti-trans hatred specifically has gotten local and sometimes really personal over the last couple of years. Outside of music, I work in suicide prevention for LGBTQ+ youth. I’ve been I’ve been feeling the ripples of this hatred, both big and small on my community and especially on the trans teens that I that I work with. When advocating, I feel like I have to make sense of this hatred or try to bend and twist myself into something palatable to reach for the right words that will convince someone of our humanity. But in the artistic world, we take a different approach, one that leans into this divinity of our authenticity. Art helps us lean into the healing that I had been craving to reconnect with my own resilience. 

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Music & Concerts

Janet Jackson announces new music, tour

Baltimore show slated for May 13 with Ludacris

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Janet Jackson’s ‘Together Again’ tour kicks off April 14 in Hollywood, Fla.

Music icon Janet Jackson announced a new tour on Monday morning in a live Instagram video.

The “Together Again” tour kicks off April 14 in Florida with at least 33 dates announced so far, including May 13 in Baltimore. There’s no D.C. date as of Monday morning.

Jackson confirmed that she will debut new music in conjunction with the tour but didn’t specify if that means a full new album or when it might debut. She added that she would be joined by Ludacris on the tour.

Tickets are on sale Friday via Live Nation; pre-sale begins 11 a.m. Tuesday at ticketmaster.com.

Jackson canceled her previous tour, 2020’s “Black Diamond” due to the pandemic. She is expected to pay tribute to the 25th anniversary of her #1 album “Velvet Rope” during the new show.

Visit janetjackson.com for the full schedule.

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