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Zofia Posmysz
(c) Jacek Poremba
Courtesy of Teatr Wielki Opera Narodowa
The Polish Cultural Institute New York is proud to support the Memory and Reckoning:

Exploring The Passenger

Sunday, January 25, 2015 - Sunday, March 15, 2015


Memory and Reckoning: A Series Exploring Mieczyslaw Weinberg

January 29  March 5

The Passenger

Mieczyslaw Weinberg

February 24- March 15

Music of beauty and enormity... it is a perfect masterpiece... it is a hymn to humanity... to the international solidarity of those who, subjected to the most terrible evil, stood up against fascism. - Dmitri Shostakovich about The Passenger

The Lyric Opera of Chicago presents the Chicago premiere of Polish-Jewish composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg's The Passenger February 24 through March 15, 2015. This poignant and gripping 20th-century masterpiece is set to a libretto by Alexander Medvedev and is based on the book The Passenger by the Polish writer and concentration camp survivor Zofia Posmysz. Suppressed for more than 40 years, Weinberg's gripping opera has emerged a new, electrifying audiences at Austria's Bregenz Festival and again in Warsaw and London. The opera had its U.S. premiere on January 18, 2014 at the Houston Grand Opera, and its New York premiere on July 10, 2014 as part of the Lincoln Center Festival.

Onstage, the action of The Passenger moves between two realmsthe pristine white deck of a luxury liner above, and the dark horrors of the death camp below. On the liner, a West German diplomat, Walter, and his wife, Liese, are bound for a new posting in Brazil. Unbeknownst to her husband, Liese served as an SS officer in Auschwitz. Her past comes back to haunt her when she thinks she recognizes a fellow passenger as one of the prisoners she oversaw. Liese is never able to confirm whether the woman she sees is truly Marta, the Polish prisoner she once manipulated, and The Passenger makes no attempt at closure or reconciliation. Instead, the harsh and complex realities of the mass murder Liese helped perpetrate, and of her inescapable guilt, are unsparingly confronted.

In conjunction with The Passenger, Lyric Unlimitedthe arm of Lyric Opera of Chicago dedicated to community engagement, new artistic initiatives, and collaborative eventsis partnering with a range of cultural institutions to present a wide-ranging series exploring the themes and messages of Weinbergs important work. Memory and Reckoning includes discussions with scholars and creators of The Passenger production, performances of Weinberg chamber music by members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra, orchestral music by the Northwestern University symphony and chamber orchestras, a film screening of the classic 1963 Polish film version of the book, directed by Andrzej Munk, and the world premiere of a newly commissioned klezmer opera, The Property by Wlad Marhulets.

The Passenger is a co-production of Bregenzer Festspiele, Austria; Teatr Wielki Opera Narodowa Warszawa; the English National Opera, London; and Teatro Real, Madrid.

The Lyric Opera presentation of The Passenger is generously supported by Richard P. and Susan Kiphart, Sylvia Neil and Daniel Fischel, the Earl and Brenda Shapiro Foundation, Sidley Austin LLP, Manfred and Fern Steinfeld, and Helen and Sam Zell, with additional support from the Adam Mickiewicz Institute in Warsaw as part of the Polska Music program.

A project of Lyric Unlimited, The Property and Memory and Reckoning are supported by an anonymous donor and Seymour H. Persky, with additional support from Joyce E. Chelberg and the Polish Cultural Institute New York.

The partner organizations involved in Memory and Reckoning are the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago, the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, Northwestern Universitys Bienen School of Music, the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership, the Gene Siskel Film Center, the Chicago Humanities Festival, the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Chicago.

Memory and Reckoning Series

More about Zofia Posmysz

More about Mieczyslaw Weinberg

More about Lyric Opera of Chicago


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