Sandra Seaton is the librettist of The First Bluebird in the Morning, a newly commissioned Digital Short by composer Carlos Simon (2021).


Sandra Seaton is a playwright and librettist. Her plays have been performed in cities throughout the country, and her libretto for the solo opera From the Diary of Sally Hemings, set to music by composer William Bolcom and commissioned by mezzo soprano Florence Quivar,  has been performed at such venues as Carnegie Hall and  the Kennedy Center. In a review of the solo opera’s premiere at the Library of Congress, Seaton’s text was praised by the Washington Post for its “subtle, penetrating power.” A CD of From The Diary of Sally Hemings, with soprano Alyson Cambridge and pianist Lydia Brown, is available from White Pine Music and Hal Leonard. Seaton’s one-woman drama Sally, in which an aged Sally Hemings recalls her life with Jefferson, starred Zabryna Guevara as Sally Hemings.

In 2019 Seaton received a commission from the Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative with composer Carlos Simon to create a libretto for an original work Night Trip about a young woman’s life-changing journey to the South to visit her relatives. In January,2020, the opera premiered at the Kennedy Center. A review in the Washington Post singled out “Seaton’s candid, vernacular text” for “gradually revealing dramatic and poetic substance.”

Seaton’s other works include a spoken word piece, King: A Reflection on the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with spirituals sung by Metropolitan Opera tenor George Shirley and the song cycle Vegetarian Wedding with composer Erik Santos.

Among her twelve plays, The Bridge Party, Seaton’s first play, has been anthologized in Strange Fruit: Plays on Lynching by American Women. The play, set in Tennessee, portrays a group of black women whose weekly bridge game is interrupted by news of a lynching.  Ruby Dee starred in a performance at the University of Michigan. Seaton’s play The Will, a drama about a black Tennessee family during Reconstruction, and her Civil Rights era play Music History, about African-American college students, have been performed widely and included in a number of college courses.

Seaton’s Chicago Trilogy, three one-act plays: A Chance Meeting, The Lookout, and Black for Dinner, are based on short stories by the African American Chicago writer Cyrus Colter.

In 2020 at the Atlanta Black Theatre Festival, Call Me By My Name, Seaton’s performance piece about Henrietta Lacks, starring Tracey Bonner, was performed at the Atlanta Black Theatre Festival. In 2021 her play with music, The Passion of Mary Cardwell Dawson, starring Denyce Graves, with original music by Carlos Simon, premiered at the Glimmerglass Festival. In 2022 her ploratoria, Dreamland: Tulsa 1921, with composer Marques L.A. Garrett, will premiere with Dallas’s Turtle Creek Chorale and travel to Carnegie Hall in July 2022.  The First Bluebird in the Morning, with composer Carlos Simon, premiered with LA Opera in September 2021.  

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