The opera, based on Brant's play of the same name, tells the story of Jess, a fighter pilot who is grounded due to an unexpected pregnancy, and subsequently reassigned to piloting lethal drones remotely.
Mezzo-soprano Emily D'Angelo makes her Washington National Opera debut as Jess. The cast, expanded from Brant's one-woman play, also includes Joseph Dennis as Eric, Morris Robinson as the Commander, Frederick Ballentine as the Trainer, Kyle Miller as the Sensor, and Teresa Perrotta as "Also Jess," a character who embodies Jess' dissociated self. Daniela Candillari conducts.
The world premiere production, directed by Michael Mayer, features scenic design by Mimi Lien, projection design by Kaitlyn Pietras and Jason H. Thompson, costume design by Tom Broecker, lighting design by Kevin Adams, and choreography by David Neumann.
Grounded was commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera, and the co-production with WNO is expected to have its Met premiere in the 2024-2025 season.
Performances of Grounded run through November 13 at the Kennedy Center Opera House. WNO's upcoming season will also include a revival of Tesori's family opera, The Lion, The Unicorn, and Me, which had its premiere at WNO in 2013.