Children’s Opera Brundibár Features Playwright Tony Kushner’s English Adaptation
Seattle, WA (January 6, 2014)–“When we sang, we forgot where we were. We forgot hunger, we forgot all the troubles that we had to go through,” said Ela Stein Weissberger, a survivor of the Holocaust. She is referring to her role in the opera Brundibár, which she performed with other child inmates in a concentration camp. The opera lifted spirits and gave hope. And now, it’s about to lift a new generation of spirits here in Seattle.
On March 22 at 4:00 p.m. and March 23 at 7:00 p.m., Music of Remembrance will present a new, fully-staged production of Brundibár in the Seattle Children’s Theatre at the Seattle Center. Tickets are $40 and can be ordered by calling 206-365-7770 or by visiting www.musicofremembrance.org.
“We are thrilled to bring this beloved work to Seattle,” said Mina Miller, artistic director of Music of Remembrance. “Our audience will hear about Brundibár’s extraordinary history from someone who was part of it, and the performances will bring them a wonderful night of music filled with hope and joy.”
Weissberger will speak before both Seattle performances of Brundibár. She was 11 when she was sent to the Terezín concentration camp and played the Cat in the original Brundibár cast there. Of about 15,000 children who passed through Terezín, she is one of just a few hundred who survived.
Brundibár was created by the Czech composer Hans Krása, who led its 55 performances in Terezín. The cast of children needed constant replenishing because the young singers were transported to death camps after most performances. Krása shared the children’s fate. He was murdered in Auschwitz in October 1944.
The opera is, at the same time, a parable of the children’s actual situation and an embodiment of their hopes and dreams. Seventy years after the performances in Terezín, Brundibár is performed throughout the world, and it continues to speak to people of all ages through its story, its music and its legacy. The New York Times’ Allan Kozinn recently described Brundibár’s poignancy: “[T]he music itself is the embodiment of innocence and hope, with sweetly harmonized choral writing reminiscent of Zoltan Kodaly, as well as cabaret touches that invoke the spirit of Kurt Weill.”
In 2003, Pulitzer playwright Tony Kushner and illustrator Maurice Sendak collaborated on a striking picture book version of the Brundibár tale, and this became the basis for a new production of the opera with Kushner’s brilliant English-language libretto. While faithful to the opera’s music idiom and its magical children’s tale of the triumph of innocence over evil, Kushner employs a language that gives Brundibár an immediacy for today’s audiences. His libretto preserves the sense of miracle, but also cautions against the false reassurance that the struggle against evil is ever finished.
Music of Remembrance’s performances will be conducted by Joseph Crnko, Music Director of the Northwest Boychoir, and directed by Erich Parce. The all-child cast features some of Seattle’s most gifted young singers, many from The Northwest Boychoir and Vocalpoint!
The opera will be preceded by a revue with instrumental and vocal works that evoke the legacy of Terezín’s extraordinary musical life. Twelve-year old Takumi Taguchi, this year’s recipient of MOR’s David Tonkonogui Memorial Award, will perform the Serenata by Robert Dauber.
Audience members who fall in love with Brundibár will be delighted to learn that MOR has produced a CD recording of the opera, available from Naxos. This award-winning CD (named among the Top Ten Opera CDs of 2007) is the first and only CD of Brundibár with Tony Kushner’s brilliant English-language libretto. For interviews with Ela Stein Weissberger, cast members or Mina Miller, contact MOR at 206-365-7770 or email email@example.com. For more information, visit www.musicofremembrance.org.
Brundibár, A Children’s Opera
March 22, 2014 at 4:00 p.m.
March 23, 2014 at 7:00 p.m.
Seattle Children’s Theatre
Hans Krása, Brundibár (Terezín, 1943)
Libretto by Adolf Hoffmeister (1902-1973), English Libretto by Tony Kushner
Erich Parce: Stage Director
Joseph Crnko: Conductor
Mina Miller: Artistic Director
Cast and Chorus: members of Northwest Boychoir and Vocalpoint!
Music of Remembrance Ensemble
Flute: Zart Dombourian-Eby; Clarinet: Laura DeLuca; Trumpet: David Gordon; Keyboard: Kimberly Russ; Piano: Mina Miller; Violins: Mikhail Shmidt, Leonid Keylin, Natasha Bazhanov; Artur Girsky; Viola: Susan Gulkis Assadi, Cello: Mara Finkelstein; Double Bass: Jonathan Green.
About Music of Remembrance
Music of Remembrance (MOR) fills a unique cultural role in Seattle and throughout the United States by remembering Holocaust musicians and their art through musical performances, educational activities, musical recordings and commissions of new works. Since its 1998/99 inaugural year, MOR has presented two major concerts annually at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall, marking the anniversary of Kristallnacht (The Night of Broken Glass) each fall and Holocaust Remembrance Day each spring.