Featuring Breanna Sinclairé – Soprano, Rahzé Cheatham – Baritone & Reuben Zellman – Countertenor
with host Afrika America.
Bringing something different to Pride month in 2022, The Transgender District & Opera Paralléle assembled an exciting line-up of classical singers to showcase their artistry. This event is part of a new partnership between the two organizations designed to create more opportunities for emerging transgender or gender expansive performers. Get to know each of these three compelling artists as they share their stories and talents. Performers were accompanied by OP’s Resident Pianist Keisuke Nakagoshi.
‘Expansive’ serves as an invitation from The Transgender District to join them in their place, an area of great cultural and historical significance for the trans community.
Date: June 17, 2022 – 7:30pm
Venue: PianoFight – 144 Taylor St, San Francisco
Breanna Sinclairé is a graduate from CalArts and San Francisco Conservatory of Music as the first trans person in the opera program. On the stage, she has performed in many operatic works: Carmen, Samson and Delilah, Durufle’s Requiem to name a few. She has sung with the San Francisco, Washington DC and Los Angeles Gay Men’s Choruses and recently performed for the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention (alongside Speaker Nancy Pelosi). She sang the national anthem for the SF Giants and the Oakalnd A’s as the first trans singer to perform at a national sporting event. Breanna was named OUT Magazine’s LGBT Hero of the Year 2015.
In 2019, The New York Times featured Ms. Sinclairé in an article by Michael Cooper, “Transgender Opera Singers Find Their Voices” and has also been featured by KQED Radio “Three Transgender Opera Singers on the Risks They took to Live Authentically ”.
Ms. Sinclairé has traveled across the United States and Canada. Her debut at the Walt Disney Concert Hall on July 2017 was a huge milestone in her operatic career. She performed at the Lincoln Theater, Nourse Theater and many celebrated halls. She made her debut with the San Francisco Symphony in 2018 as the first trans singer to perform with the orchestra.
Breanna Sinclaire sang a rendition of the National Anthem in an episode for the Emmy Award winning Television show ‘United Shades Of America with Kamau Bell on the 2021 Memorial Day Special. Recently she made her Canadian Opera debut in the role of “Kelly Davidson” in the new opera Film Bound with Against the Grain Theater Toronto. In August 2022, Ms. Sinclairé will perform the role of Gertrude in Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel at the Berlin Opera Academy.
Baritone Rahzé Cheatham is praised as a “wonderfully sensitive” performer with “crystalline diction” and a strong foundation in music, theatre art, and dance applications. An emerging new music artist in both concert and operatic repertoire, notable roles include Hannah before (As One), Brennan (Mallory) Blues Soloist/Street Singer (MASS), Betto di Signa (Gianni Schicchi), L’Aubergiste (Chérubin), Bob (Old Maid and the Thief), and Bernardo (West Side Story).
They have been featured in numerous projects, including opera scenes, performing as: Sam, Trouble in Tahiti; Dr. Pangloss, Candide; and Figaro, Le nozze di Figaro. For five years, Rahzé served as a Section Leader and soloist for the Sanctuary Choir of First and Franklin Presbyterian Church. Armed with the perspective of the intersection of mis- and underrepresented communities, Rahzé seeks to break through an otherwise homogenous music scene. In addition to performing original works, Rahzé enjoys learning and performing works from 1900-forward, by little-known and unknown composers and poets, especially artists of color and LBGTQ-identified artists.
While hosting a private voice studio of beginner, intermediate, and advanced students across multiple genres, they currently maintain teaching positions at the Baltimore School for the Arts and the Baltimore School of Music. Rahzé holds a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance and a Minor in Music Theory from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University where they studied with American baritone William Sharp.
Reuben Zellman (he/they) is a longtime Bay Area soloist and chorister, recently singing roles in Handel’s Tamerlano and Semele with the Handel Opera Project, works of Bernstein with the UC Berkeley Chorus and Orchestra, and cantatas of Charpentier and Schütz with DeAnza College. He is a staff countertenor with the Grace Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys, and sings regularly with San Francisco Renaissance Voices. Reuben also teaches in the School of Music at San Francisco State University and serves as baal korei (Torah chanter) at Congregation Ner Tamid. He holds master’s degrees in choral conducting and in Hebrew literature, and rabbinical ordination from Hebrew Union College, where he also trained in theory and performance practice of Jewish music. Reuben speaks and writes extensively on issues of gender identity and religion, as well as Jewish music of the Baroque and early Classical periods.
Reuben also proudly serves as the founding director of New Voices Bay Area TIGQ Chorus, a 35-voice choral ensemble for singers identifying as transgender, intersex, or gender-queer. Based at San Francisco’s Community Music Center, the chorus learns and performs great music of many styles and traditions, builds strong connections, and lifts up our community’s strength and struggle through choral singing. Joyfully upending gendered conventions in choral music, NVBA debuted in 2018 at SF Trans Day of Remembrance, and has been featured at the Fresh Meat Festival, the National AIDS Memorial, Ashkenaz, Grace Cathedral, the 2021 Billboard Music Awards, and on NPR and in the SF Chronicle. The chorus continues to welcome new TIGQ singers, without audition.
Social justice warrior, activist, producer and performer. These are just a few adjectives that characterize this phenomenal ‘Drag Out the Vote Ambassador’ and our host for Expansive! She produces multiple shows throughout the San Francisco Bay Area under her DIVALICIOUS brand such as BQM (Black Queer Magic), DRAGtastic and Let The Games Begin: Trivia, Bingo, DRAG, WERQ and ICON!
Having performed all over the world from Singapore to Cologne to Sydney and on America’s Got Talent, she toured the south in 2017 with SWAG, (Singers with a Goal) and the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus and was a featured performer in the documentary, Gay Chorus: Deep South.
Please put your hands together for San Francisco’s DIVAlicious Dreamgirl – Afrika America!!!
The Transgender District
The Transgender District was co-founded by three black trans women in 2017, originally as Compton’s Transgender Cultural District, it is the first legally recognized transgender district in the world. The district encompasses 6 blocks in the southeastern Tenderloin crossing over Market St. and two blocks of 6th St. Our mission is to create and preserve an urban environment that fosters the rich history, culture, legacy, and empowerment of transgender people and its deep roots in the southeastern Tenderloin neighborhood. We aim to stabilize and economically empower the transgender community through ownership of homes, businesses, historic and cultural sites, and safe community spaces.
Funding for ‘Expansive’ is provided in part by:
Homeless Children’s Network,
San Francisco Human Rights Commission,
and a Civic Practice Grant for OPERA America’s Opera Fund,
with in kind support from The Proper Hotel San Francisco.
‘Expansive’ is part of OP’s Bullhorn Community Programs, supported in part by the Henry W. Robinson & Nettie Robinson Foundation and Bill Graham Memorial Foundation.