Monthly Archives: August 2014

Opera from WWII Jewish ghetto performed for first time in Sydney

[from the Sydney Morning Herald]

Brundibar is a short, light-hearted opera written for children. But for Jerry Rind, who was involved in one of the first performances in 1943, it was anything but light-hearted. For Rind, now 90, it was a matter of life and death – literally.
Rind was one of tens of thousands of Jews interned in the town of Terezin, in the north of Czechoslovakia, which was used by the Nazis as a collection camp for victims who were to be sent to Auschwitz. With room for 7000 people or so, at its height there were 55,000 crammed into the ghetto. Some 30,000 died of disease and malnutrition.

Rind laboured in a workshop making bunks and coffins, and it was from there that he stole the wood used to build the set for an illicit performance of Brundibar.

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Holocaust Grafted to Beethoven

[from the New York Times]

by Corinna da Fonseca Wollheim

FIDELIO-master675Santa Fe Opera Sets ‘Fidelio’ in a Concentration Camp

No audience members staggered out of the Santa Fe Opera House in search of assistance on Thursday evening after Stephen Wadsworth’s production of Beethoven’s “Fidelio” inspired by Bergen-Belsen. This wasn’t Burkhard C. Kosminski’s staging of Wagner’s “Tannhäuser,” which last year upset audience members in Düsseldorf, Germany, so much with its graphic depiction of gassings and shootings that some required medical attention. Mr. Wadsworth’s concentration-camp spin on the tale of a political prisoner who is liberated by his wife after she has disguised herself as a man and apprenticed with the prison warden was perfectly tasteful.

As such, I found it especially offensive.

To be sure, Mr. Wadsworth is only the latest director to set Beethoven’s liberation opera in a recent political context. This summer, a former East German prison in Cottbus, which had once housed political dissidents, became the backdrop to a production of “Fidelio” that included former inmates in the chorus. There was a site-specific “Fidelio” at the former Soviet prison camp PERM-36 in 2010. Guantánamo has been a point of reference in “Fidelio” productions by opera houses in Seattle; London; and Melbourne, Australia.

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