The Seattle-based Music of Remembrance (MOR) was founded in 1998 by pianist Mina Miller. The name of the group refers to one of the darkest events of the twentieth century, the Holocaust initiated by the Nazis that came to a violent and tragic head during the Forties. The mission of the organization is to remember this event through music with concert performances, educational program, recordings (seven of which have been produced for Naxos thus far), and commissions of new works.
The most recent commission is a two-act opera entitled Out of Darkness. This was composed by Jake Heggie working with librettist Gene Scheer. This is their fourth commission from MOR. The previous operas they created were For a Look or a Touch (2007), Another Sunrise (2012), and Farewell, Auschwitz (2013).
Each of the two acts of Out of Darkness focuses on a different protagonist. The first act is entitled “Krystyna;” and the title refers to Krystyna Zywulska, who wrote poems that became anthems of defiance among her fellow prisoners in Auschwitz. The title of the second act is “Gad,” named after Gad Beck. This addresses the fate of homosexuals during the Holocaust by examining Beck’s relationship with his lover Manfred Lewin. The two had been living as idealistic young lovers in 1930s Berlin, who then had to endure the rise of the Nazis. Taken as a whole, the opera examines the lives of these two survivors of the Holocaust and the ghosts of the past that haunt them.
The vocalists for this opera will be sopranos Caitlin Lynch and Ava Pine, mezzo Catherine Cook, and baritones Michael Mayes and Robert Orth. They will be accompanied by a chamber orchestra consisting of Zart Dombourian-Eby (flute), Laura DeLuca (clarinet), Mikhail Shmidt (violin), Walter Gray (cello), Jonathan Green (bass), and Jessica Choe (piano). The staging will be by Erich Parce, and Miller will serve as Artistic Director.
Out of Darkness will be given its world premiere in Seattle on May 22. After that the entire production team will come down to San Francisco to give two performances in the Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM). Both performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. on May 25 and May 26, respectively. Ticket prices are $75 for the first eight rows in the Center Orchestra section. The price of all remaining tickets will be $60. Brown Paper Tickets has created a single event page for the purchase of tickets on both dates, selected from a pull-down menu. SFCM is located at 50 Oak Street, a short walk from the Van Ness Muni station.
There will also be a cast party following the second performance. This will be open to the general public at a charge of $100 per person. The party will take place in the SFCM Osher Salon. A portion of the charge will represent a tax-deductible contribution.