Out of Darkness

Out of Darkness - An Opera of Survival

Music by Jake Heggie   
Libretto by Gene Scheer
Directed by Erich Parce
Commissioned by Music of Remembrance

Based on true stories of two survivors haunted by the ghosts of their past

Out of Darkness marks the fourth commission in Heggie and Scheer’s decade-long collaboration with MOR, and is based on their earlier For a Look or a Touch (2007), Another Sunrise (2012), and Farewell, Auschwitz (2013). Heggie describes what moves him to create these important works honoring the Holocaust’s legacy: “I’m particularly inspired by stories of social justice and the inequities of life, and how we are all connected as human beings despite those inequities.”

Robert Orth, baritone; Michael Mayes, baritone     Cory Weaver Photography

"The whole of the opera was so moving that it's difficult to find highlights to describe.... I will never forget this haunting opera of remembrance."  
     -Alice Bloch, Seattle Gay News
"Erich Parce directs these two stories with much understanding of how to be respectful of the memories of these real people and yet fully representative of the horrors they and thousands of others faced." 
     -Eddie Reynolds, Theatre Eddys
"As deserving of a large audience as Heggie and McNally's Dead Man Walking and Heggie and Scheer's Moby-Dick, it calls out to be heard." 
     -Jason Victor Serinus, Bay Area Reporter
"...the music and story are presented in a manner that transforms the unbearable into a powerful evening of revelation and remembrance." 
     -Jason Victor Serinus, Bay Area Reporter
"In Mozartian fashion, all the characters from both acts assemble for a heroic finale about the triumph of unity, music, and freedom. Gad and Krystyna certainly triumphed, finding life and meaning after years of suffering. So did the cast and the Seattle-based orchestra (pulled almost entirely from the Seattle Symphony), who played at the highest level of technical precision and artistic expression under the baton of Joseph Mechavich."
     -Ilana Walder-Biesanz, San Francisco Conservatory of Music
Caitlin Lynch, soprano; Catherine Cook, mezzo-soprano; Ava Pine, soprano; Michael Mayes, baritone
Cory Weaver Photography
Out of Darkness Background
Act One: "Krystyna"
Her Jewish identity hidden, Krystyna Zywulska was a political prisoner at Auschwitz-Birkenau. In secret, she composed lyrics to inspire fellow prisoners, even as she carried out her harrowing job in the Effektenkammer: cataloguing the personal effects of thousands of women and children before they were murdered in the ovens next door. She told her story in the book I Survived Auschwitz, published in 1946. Krystyna and her friend Zosha were on the same Polish transport to Auschwitz.
Act 2: "Gad"
Gad Beck's story illuminates the Nazi persecution of homosexuals during the Holocaust. Beck's first true love, the poet Manfred Lewin, was 19 when he and his entire family were murdered in Auschwitz. It is estimated that more than 100,000 men and women were imprisoned for homosexuality during the Holocaust; it is not known how many thousands were killed. Even after the war was over, Paragraph 175, the German law prohibiting homosexuality, remained in effect until 1969.
Jonathan Green, double bass; Robin Peery, flute; Laura DeLuca, clarinet;
Michael Mayes, baritone; Robert Orth, baritone       Michael Beaton Photography
Meet the Out of Darkness Cast
(click on the photos to learn more about each artist)
Caitlyn Lynch, soprano
Role: Krystyna Zywulska
A Polish dissident, lyricist and songwriter who was a political prisoner in Auschwitz.
She survived to write two books about her experiences.
Ava Pine, soprano
Role: Krysia Zywulska
The young Zywulska in Auschwitz
Catherine Cook, mezzo-soprano
Role: Zosha
Krysia's friend in the Auschwitz barracks
Michael Mayes, baritone
Role: Manfred Lewin
A 19-year old gay man murdered in Auschwitz
Robert Orth, baritone
Role: Gad Beck
A Holocaust survivor who was Manfred's lover in Berlin
Zart Dombourian-Eby, flute; Laura DeLuca, clarinet; Mikhail Shmidt, violin; Walter Gray, cello; Jonathan Green, double bass; Jessica Choe, piano
Mina Miller, Artistic Director
Erich Parce, Stage Director
Joseph Mechavich, Conductor
Matthew Antaky, Lighting & Scenic Designer
David Murakami, Media Designer
Laura Anderson, Production & Stage Manager
World Premiere Dates
May 22, 2016, 4 p.m.
Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall, Benaroya Hall, Seattle
May 25-26, 2016, 7:30 p.m.
Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall, San Francisco Conservatory of Music

Click here to read the Out of Darkness press release