Breaking Glass

Breaking Glass: Hyper-Linking Opera & Issues is a new project comprised of a 5-episode podcast series co-produced by the WFMT Radio Network in Chicago and eight national forums inspired by new work written specifically for the Festival. The Breaking Glass project offers the Glimmerglass audience insight into how music and art can respond to issues we face as a society and examines diversity and inclusion in America. Breaking Glass is a community conversation designed to provoke thoughtful discourse about these important topics.

Breaking Glass and the development of Stomping Grounds and Blue are funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Glimmerglass’s commissioning fees for Blue are funded in part by an OPERA America Female Composers Grant. Further development of Blue is made possible by a Repertoire Development Grant from the Opera Fund. The Breaking Glass podcast is a co-production of the Glimmerglass Festival and the WFMT Radio Network, a Chicago-based producer and distributor of radio programs and podcasts about the arts. The podcast is made possible by an OPERA America Innovation Grant supported by the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.

Listen to a Preview of the Podcast


National Forums:

Anchoring these programs are two Glimmerglass commissioned works that serve as a springboard for dialogue; Stomping Grounds, a “hip-hopera” by Paige Hernandez and Victor Simonson, and Blue by Jeanine Tesori and Tazewell Thompson. Breaking Glass illuminates the history of how opera has staged race, racism, discrimination, and dislocation in America. The two creative teams will work together on both the forums and the podcast throughout 2018. The conversations will be enhanced with musical excerpts from the 2017 Glimmerglass premiere production of Stomping Grounds and the upcoming 2019 commission of Blue and each forum is tailored to address the pressing social issues of each community it visits through the content of our new works.

Watch the Forums:

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Meet the Panelists:

Paige Hernandez is a multidisciplinary artist who is critically-acclaimed as a performer, director, choreographer and playwright. She is known for her effective fusion of theatre, hip-hop, dance and education. As a master teaching artist, Hernandez has taught throughout the country to all ages and disciplines, to date reaching approximately 10,000 students in over 100 residencies, workshops and performances. As a performer, choreographer and hip-hop advocate, her work has been seen at The Kennedy Center, Wolf Trap, Imagination Stage, Lincoln Center, Arena Stage, Folger Theatre and Forum Theatre, among other stages across the globe. Hernandez tours internationally with her company B-FLY ENTERTAINMENT, promoting original works such as Liner Notes, Havana Hop and Paige in Full: A B-girl’s Visual Mixtape. Awards include an Individual Artist Award from the Maryland State Arts council, the Thomas Fichandler Award for exceptional promise in theater education from the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning and two Helen Hayes nominations for choreography and performance. Hernandez was named a “classroom hero” by the Huffington Post for her outstanding arts integration and work with STEM initiatives.

Victor Simonson is a multi-talented musician, working as a conductor, director, composer, arranger, orchestrator, pianist and vocalist in genres including Classical, Broadway, Jazz, Gospel, Blues, Sacred, R&B and Folk. He is also a Minster of Music, keyboardist and organist. As a pianist, Simonson has participated on the creative music teams of Smokey Joe’s Café, Civil War Christmas and The Wiz, and played for the NAACP 2003 Image Awards. He served as Associate Conductor for national tours with Memphis the Musical and The Color Purple and was nominated for the Helen Hayes Award for his music direction in Three Mo’ Divas. Simonson’s gospel composition “Another Chance” is featured on a Grammy-nominated CD by Total Praise. Other collaborations include work with Donnie McClurkin, Denyse Graves, N’Kenge, Adina Aaron, Angela M. Brown and Roderick Dixon. He has been seen on ABC Nightline, Good Morning America, PBS, Rosie O’Donnell and the WORD Network and has shared stages with Harry Belafonte, Robin Williams, Chris Tucker, Celia Cruz, and Shirley Caesar, among many other notable performer

Jeanine Tesori won the 2015 Tony Award for Best Original Score with Lisa Kron for Fun Home. She has also written Tony-nominated scores for Twelfth Night (Lincoln Center); Thoroughly Modern Millie (lyrics, Dick Scanlan); Caroline, or Change (lyrics, Tony Kushner); and Shrek The Musical (lyrics, David Lindsay-Abaire). The production of Caroline, or Change at the National Theatre in London received the Olivier Award for Best New Musical. Her 1997 Off-Broadway musical Violet (lyrics, Brian Crawley) opened on Broadway in 2014 and garnered four Tony nominations, including Best Musical Revival. Opera: A Blizzard On Marblehead Neck (libretto, Tony Kushner; Glimmerglass) and The Lion, The Unicorn, and Me (libretto, J. D. McClatchy, Washington National Opera). Music for plays: Mother Courage (with Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline), John Guare’s A Free Man of Color (Lincoln Center Theater), and Romeo and Juliet (Delacorte Gala). Film scores: Nights in Rodanthe, Every Day, and You’re Not You. She is founding artistic director of Encores! Off-Center at City Center, and is a lecturer in music at Yale.

Harlem native Tazewell Thompson, is an internationally-acclaimed director of opera: Europe, Asia, Africa, Canada and the U.S.; theatre: over 85 productions (many world and American premieres and over 24 productions at Arena Stage, where he served for many seasons as resident director); an award winning playwright (Constant Star, Jam & Spice, A Christmas Carol, Mary T & Lizzy K) with commissions from Lincoln Center Theatre, Arena Stage, South Coast Rep and People’s Light and Theatre Company. He recently directed Ruined for Everyman Theatre, Caucasian Chalk Circle for New York University Tisch School of the Arts, and the American premiere of Vivaldi’s opera Cato in Utica for the Glimmerglass Festival and Opera Lafayette. His production of Porgy & Bess, broadcast on Live From Lincoln Center, received EMMY nominations for Best Classical Production and Best Director. He made his Washington National Opera directorial debut in November 2015, with the world premiere of Philip Glass’ Appomattox, and returned for the February 2016 production of Lost in the Stars, which he originated with Cape Town Opera/Glimmerglass Festival to widespread recognition in 2012.

Matthew Morrison is an Assistant Professor Faculty/Fellow at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. He holds a Ph.D. in Musicology from Columbia University, a masters in Musicology from The Catholic University of America and was a Presidential music scholar at Morehouse College, where he studied violin and conducting. Morrison has served as Editor-in-Chief of the peer-reviewed music journal Current Musicology, where he published a special issue on Race, Sound, and Performance (Spring 2012) featuring an interdisciplinary group of scholars writing about the sounds of music in society. His published work has appeared in the Journal of the American Musicological Society, the Grove Dictionary of American Music and on Oxford University Press’s online music blog. Morrison is currently the Dean of Faculty and Academic Affiars for the W. E. B. Du Bois Scholars Institute at Princeton University. He also curates and contracts a variety of performances featuring some of the most dynamic musicians (of color, in particular). His current book project, American Popular Sound: From Blackface to Blacksound, considers the implications of positing sound as a major component in both individual and societal identity constructions, specifically race formation.

Naomi André is Associate Professor in Women’s Studies, the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, and the Associate Director for Faculty at the Residential College at the University of Michigan. She received her BA in music from Barnard College and MA and Ph.D. in musicology from Harvard University. Her research focuses on opera and issues surrounding gender, voice, and race. Her publications include topics on Italian opera, Schoenberg, women composers, and teaching opera in prisons. Her books, Voicing Gender: Castrati, Travesti, and the Second Woman in Early Nineteenth-Century Italian Opera (2006) and Blackness in Opera (2012, edited collection) focus on opera from the nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries and explore constructions of gender, race and identity.  Currently, she is completing a monograph on staging race and history in opera today in the United States and South Africa. She has served on the Graduate Alumni Council for Harvard University’s Graduate School of Art and Sciences, the Executive Committee for the Criminal Justice Program at the American Friends Service Committee (Ann Arbor, MI), and has served as an evaluator for the Fulbright Senior Specialist Program.

Since top-tier jazz and multiple Grammy-winning trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard embarked onhis solo recording career with his eponymous Columbia Records album in 1991, the New Orleans-born and – based artist has traveled many paths musically, including delivering adventurous and provocative acoustic jazz outings of original material, composing over 50 soundtracks and even, in 2013, debuting Champion: An Opera in Jazz. He has also, in the spirit of his onetime membership in the jazz school of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, mentored several musicians in his bands who have gone on to have significant recording careers of their own including Lionel Loueke, Aaron Parks, Kendrick Scott and one of his current band members Fabian Almazan).As a leader and co-leader (significantly four albums early in his career with fellow Crescent City artist,saxophonist Donald Harrison), Blanchard has recorded more than 30 albums that often defied genres, yet were still critically acclaimed. But for his latest Blue Note Records album, Breathless, Blanchard powerfully and playfully journeys into another jazz realm with his new quintet, The E-Collective—an exciting zone of grooved fusion teeming with funk, R&B and blues colors.

Produced by the trumpeter and his manager Robin Burgess and executive produced by Blue Note president Don Was, the adventurous 13-tune recording zeroes in on several Blanchard originals, an epic-length piece by Almazan and a scattering of covers, sung by soothing and soulful vocalist P.J. Morton (a member of the band Maroon 5), including an exhilarating take on the modern standard “Compared to What“ made famous by Les McCann and Eddie Harris, and the soul-vibed and lyrical take on “I Ain’t Got Nothin’ But Time” penned by Hank Williams. Plus, Morton sings the compelling pop-styled, song-of-strength tune, ”Shutting Down,” written by Blanchard’s talented son, T. Oliver Blanchard Jr., aka JRei Oliver, who also contributes spoken-word excerpts on others.

It’s a first foray into straight-up grooveland for Blanchard, and he’s thrilled with the dance-steeped party he and his quintet (and guests) have cooked up. “Breathless is the album I’ve been wanting to do for quite awhile,” he says. “Growing up I was listening to the Head Hunters and Weather Report, which had a strong effect on me. I always listened to groove-based music—Jimi Hendrix, Parliament Funkadelic and then later listening to Prince and D’Angelo and later what [jazz trumpeter] Russell Gunn was doing. But up to this point, I had never explored it.”

Born and raised in Washington, D.C, music has been a part of his life since grade school. Nurtured in the public school system by amazing music teachers, he participated in choirs throughout the city and began formal training at the Duke Ellington School of the Performing and Visual Arts as a Vocal and Visual Arts student. Among his roles, many are staples of opera repertoire: The title role, in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, as well as Leporello and Il Commendatore, Mephistopheles in Gounod’s Faust, Don Alfonso in Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte, Ramfis and Il Re in Verdi’s Aida, Colline in Puccini’s La Boheme, the title role of Handel’s Hercules, The King in Handel’s Ariodante, Osmin in Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Sarastro and the Speaker in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Sparafucile in Verdi’s Rigoletto, Fasolt in Wagner’s Das Rheingold.

Never afraid to step outside of the box of traditional repertoire, Mr. Kellogg has been involved with several new operas. He sang the role of Queequeg in the workshop of Jake Heggie’s acclaimed, Moby Dick at San Francisco Opera. He led the cast in the west coast premier of Terence Blanchard’s Champion: An Opera in Jazz, as the champion boxer, Young Emile Griffith, to rave reviews with Opera Parallele. He has been a guest at the Opera America’s New Works Forum in NY, where among other roles, he brought to life the character of Sam Bankhead in Dan Sonenberg’s Opera, The Summer King, about the life of Negro League great, Joshua Gibson. The opera will have its premiere and the honor of being Pittsburgh Opera’s first world premiere in it’s 78 year history. He is a frequent collaborator with small companies pushing the boudaries of the Art of Opera and has lent his voice to several voice-over projects.

Mr. Kellogg has managed a very active performing schedule between the US and Europe. He has worked with many leaders in the field at houses including San Francisco Opera, LA Opera, Washington National Opera, Atlanta Opera, Washington Concert Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Opera Tampa, Opera Memphis, Opera North Carolina, Opera Parallele, and is set to make several role and house debuts. His European debut was in the role of Sarastro at Opera de Oviedo where he returned to sing the devil himself, Mephistopheles in Faust. He also sang the same 2 roles with Opera de Lausanne.

He in an Alumnus of the Adler Fellowship Program at San Francisco Opera and the Domingo-Caftriz Emerging Artist Program at Washington National Opera. He also trained at the Academy of Vocal Arts, Wolf Trap Opera and holds degrees from the University of Michigan and Ohio University.

Special thanks:
Eddy F. Alvarez, Ph.D., Jason Berry, Michael Borowitz, Mark Clague, Murray Decock, Laura Lee Everett, Camron Gray, Ivan Griffin, Emmalee Hackshaw, Kristina Hicks, Bert Wesley Huffman, Briana Hunter, Barbara Lynne Jamison, Kathleen Kelly, Robert Lyall, Joseph McKesson, Edward Nunoo, Michelle Osterhoudt, David Schall, and Rehanna Thelwell.


The opera world is shifting. Innovative small producers are connecting a younger following to opera in exciting ways while simultaneously attracting aficionados. Long-standing companies have experimented for years with inventive ideas for developing audiences, and particularly in the past decade, many have expanded their traditional programming to include more new work, alternative venues and original content.

Glimmerglass is looking at this point in time—from programming trends to human concerns—and asking the question: What social responsibility does an arts organization have beyond its artistic mission? 

This artistically vibrant project uses the podcasting medium to connect opera to issues in people’s lives, while raising important questions for the industry. With Co-executive Producer, WFMT Radio Network in Chicago, Season 1 of the Breaking Glass: Hyper-linking Opera & Issues Podcast will be made available starting in August 2018 through Apple Podcasts, YouTube, Spotify, Google Play or wherever you download your podcasts.

      Subscribe to Breaking Glass: Hyper-Linking Opera and Issues

Paige Hernandez, host
Tazewell Thompson, regular contributor
Produced by Stacia Brown and edited by Ali Post of Rise of Charm City, LLC
Music and sound design by Elisheba Ittoop
Christopher Powell and Tony Macaluso, executive producers

Glimmerglass Festival:
Francesca Zambello, Artistic & General Director
Sam Forehand, Communications Manager
Cat Syman, Communications Coordinator
Joel Morain, Resident Sound Designer

WFMT Radio Network:
Heather McDougall, project manager
Stacy Gerard, production and distribution manager
Maggie Jensen, distribution assistant
Engineering assistance by Becky Nystedt

Dialogues of the Carmelites (2002 Glimmerglass production) by Francis Poulenc, The Glimmerglass Festival Orchestra, Stewart Robertson, Conductor

Stomping Grounds (2017 World Premiere Glimmerglass production)
Victor Simonson, Composer
Paige Hernandez, Librettist/Stage Director/Choreographer
Annastasia Victory, Co-Composer/Musical Arrangements
Senfuab Stoney, Percussion
Nick “the1da” Hernandez, DJ/Percussion
Cast: Stephanie Sanchez, Rachel Duval, Shanelle Woods, Aidan Kahl, Jawan Cliff-Morris, Cody Monta

Blue (2019 World Premiere)
Jeanine Tesori, Composer
Tazewell Thompson, Librettist/Stage Director
Kenneth Kellogg, Bass, sings “Hello, My Son”

The Siege of Calais (2017 Glimmerglass production) by Gaetano Donizetti excerpts feature:
The Glimmerglass Festival Orchestra, Joseph Colaneri, Music Director
Helena Brown, Soprano
Leah Crocetto, Soprano
Aleksandra Romano, Mezzo-Soprano
Chaz’men Williams-Ali, Tenor
Francesca Zambello, Director
Members of the 2017 Young Artists Program

We Shall Not Be Moved excerpts are used with permission from:
Opera Philadelphia, David Devan, General Director
Countertenor John Holiday, tenor Daniel Shirley and baritone Adam Richardson sing, “Love is the only word sweeter than black”
Lauren Whitehead and Kirstin Chávez perform “The ghosts keep calling” from the world premiere production.
Daniel Bernard Roumain, Composer
Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Librettist
Bill T. Jones, Director/Choreographer/Dramaturg.
Performed at The Wilma Theater, Philadelphia, PA, September 2017
Special thanks to the Opera Philadelphia Orchestra, Viswa Subbaraman, conductor
Michael Bolton, Vice President of Community Initiatives
For more information:

X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X – An Opera in Three Acts by Anthony Davis, Gramavision, Inc., CD, 1992

Flight is an English opera in three acts by Jonathan Dove and libretto by April De Angelis. Commissioned by Glyndebourne Opera, Chandos Digital, CD, 1998.

The Glimmerglass Festival gratefully acknowledges the voices of the following opera change-makers heard in the Breaking Glass podcast:

Naomi André, Associate Director for Faculty; Associate Professor Arts and Ideas in the Humanities Program, The University of Michigan and Author of Black Opera: History, Power, Engagement

Helena Brown, Soprano

Terence Blanchard, Grammy-winning jazz trumpeter and composer of Champion

John DeMain, Conductor

Paige Hernandez, Host of the Breaking Glass podcast

Kenneth Kellogg, Bass

Michael Hidetoshi Mori, General Director, Tapestry Opera

Matthew D. Morrison, Assistant Professor in the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Aleks Romano, Mezzo-Soprano

Tazewell Thompson, Breaking Glass podcast regular contributor

Jeanine Tesori, Composer of Blue (2019)

Chaz’Men Williams-Ali, Tenor

Lidiya Yankovskaya, Music Director of Chicago Opera Theater and Artistic Director and Founder of the Refugee Orchestra Project

Francesca Zambello, General & Artistic Director, The Glimmerglass Festival

Breaking Glass and the development of Stomping Grounds and Blue are funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Glimmerglass’s commissioning fees for Blue are funded in part by an OPERA America Female Composers Grant. Further development of Blue is made possible by a Repertoire Development Grant from the Opera Fund. The Breaking Glass podcast is a co-production of the Glimmerglass Festival and the WFMT Radio Network, a Chicago-based producer and distributor of radio programs and podcasts about the arts. The podcast is made possible by an OPERA America Innovation Grant supported by the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.

Special thanks to the Syracuse University Maxwell School of Public Administration’s X-Lab and Julie Dudrick and Emily Wong from the Upstate Institute at Colgate University.

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The Glimmerglass Festival has created a partnership with Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Maxwell X-Lab to create cutting-edge research utilizing behavioral science insights with field experiments to evaluate the Breaking Glass community engagement initiatives. This innovative way of addressing problems and finding solutions will be embedded within the podcast platform. The first step is asking for your input by answering our short listener survey:

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