"After Life" / "In Sleep the World is Yours" Cipullo/Laitman

Publication
Opera News
Publication Date

Music of Remembrance is a Seattle-based chamber music organisation that uses concerts, education and compositions to remember the Holocaust; some pieces are recorded, and a new Naxos release brings us Tom Cipullo’s After Life, in which Gertrude Stein and Pablo Picasso enjoy a posthumous and confrontational conversation in which they ponder a series of questions – art, its purpose in a time of war, resistance, collaboration, survival and, ultimately, posterity’s judgements. They are joined by a girl who died of fever in a camp, and who holds the emotional mirror up to both artists, forcing them to evaluate their actions. David Mason’s libretto is thought-provoking and witty, and is well performed by Catherine Cook’s mezzo as Stein, Robert Orth’s baritone as Picasso, and Ava Pine as the soprano girl. The accompanying quintet and Cipullo’s singable lines mean that the text is clear. Well worth a listen, especially as it’s partnered with In Sleep The World Is Yours, three short songs by Lori Laitman based on elegant and moving poems by Selma Meerbaum- Eisinger, who died of typhus in a Ukrainian labour camp. They are delivered simply and movingly by soprano Megan Chenovick. - Francis Muzzu