World Premiere: May 19, 2019 (Seattle), May 23, 2019 (San Francisco)
Made possible, in part, by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Music of Remembrance Commissioning Circle
Commissioning a new opera and introducing it to the world is an exciting adventure, and it’s also a particular challenge for a small organization like Music of Remembrance. But opera offers a uniquely compelling vehicle for reaching people’s hearts in a visceral way with stories that the world needs to hear. Our twentieth anniversary season concluded with a milestone event: the world premiere of The Parting, a bold new opera by composer Tom Cipullo and librettist David Mason. This is the same creative team who in 2015 gave us the award-winning opera After Life, with its confrontation between the ghosts of Gertrude Stein and Pablo Picasso over the role of art and artists in a troubled world.
The Parting tells the story of the great Hungarian poet Miklós Radnóti, one of the most important poetic witnesses to the Holocaust. Radnóti was a distinctive figure in Budapest’s literary and intellectual circles between the world wars. Conscripted for slave labor because of his Jewish heritage, Radnóti was murdered on a death march. When his body was exhumed from a mass grave after the war, his jacket pocket revealed a notebook with poems chronicling what he’d experienced. Those verses, ranging from tender poems to the wife he would never see again to gruesome depictions of the barbarity he had witnessed, stand among the most powerful and harrowing works of Holocaust literature.
Catherine Cook, mezzo soprano; Michael Mayes, baritone; Laura Strickling, soprano
Erich Parce, director; Alastair Willis, conductor