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Category Archives: Opera

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Source: Chicago Tribune, January 23, 2014

There is a growing catalog of music written in the aftermath of the Holocaust that attempts to grapple head-on with the ineffable horrors of the Nazi era. None has managed to secure a toehold in the regular repertory.

One Holocaust-inspired opera that deserves to do so is “The Passenger,” Polish composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s and librettist Alexander Medvedev’s 1968 adaptation of a 1959 Polish radio play and, later, a novel, by Zofia Posmycz, an Auschwitz survivor.

The work received its American premiere here by the Houston Grand Opera last week in a tautly effective production by British director David Pountney that originated in 2010 at Austria’s Bregenz Festival, where “The Passenger” was staged for the first time anywhere. Lyric Opera recently announced that this same production, with a different cast, will have its Midwest premiere in Chicago in February-March 2015.

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At the same news conference, Lyric general director Anthony Freud said that Pountney and his production team for “The Passenger” will create a new Wagner “Ring” cycle to be unveiled here in segments, beginning with the 2016-17 season.

Weinberg, a Polish Jew who lost his family to the Holocaust, managed to escape on foot from Warsaw to Russia at the outset of World War II. Once he relocated to the Soviet Union, his troubles continued. Although he composed prolifically, many works were banned because of Stalinist anti-Semitism. He died in 1996, 10 years before “The Passenger” first saw the light of day, at a concert performance in Moscow. Read the full article.

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