Opera Based on Real-Life Holocaust Survivors to Premiere

Saturday, April 27, 2013 - 12:00 AM

It's not often that a composer and librettist can consult with the characters who inspire an opera. But that was exactly the case with Steal a Pencil for Me, which gets its premiere this month. It's about Jaap and Ina Polak, a real-life Jewish couple from the Netherlands who survived the Holocaust. Host Naomi Lewin spoke with the composer, Gerald Cohen, and the librettist, Deborah Brevoort.

The work premieres at Shaarei Tikvah Congregation in Scarsdale on Sunday and at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York on Tuesday.

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Comments [2]

Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

I misspoke earlier, I meant to cite for the happy endings productions of SHAKESPEARE plays the DRUARY LANE THEATER, not the Sadler Wells Theater, which was one of the theaters that presented exclusively the oeuvre of GILBERT AND SULLIVAN. In my earliest days as a professional singer I sang Nanki Poo [MIKADO] and Frederic [Pirates of Penzance] with the touring S.M. Chartock Company. People then remarked that my Nanki Poo sounded more like Siegfried and my Frederic like Tristan.

May. 14 2013 04:17 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

It is significant that an opera dealing with the Holocaust should be composed and staged in this era when some misguided director puts on a staged version of Tannhauser with gas chambers and shaving of heads to precede the slaughter of those few on stage representing the 6 millions who actually met their fate in that most wretched way and actually shooting to kill others, all staged implicitly on front stage. Concerning updating of literary masterpieces, let us be reminded that Britain's SADLER WELLS theater, just a few blocks away from the ROYAL OPERA HOUSE OF COVENT GARDEN gave versions of SHAKESPEARE's plays wherein no one died at the end to make their audiences happy with the denouement. Let's conjecture that we are more sophisticated nowadays. HATE is the latest prominent ingredient in theatrical productions on stage and in film and in political campaigns and muck-raking publications and Tv and radio programming. HATE and VIOLENCE appeal to those seeking excitement from sensationalism and catastrophic explosive forms in nature as tsunamis. volcanic action, floods, snowstorms, dust storms and the like and bloody battles and car wrecks and contact sports such as wrestling which usually APPEARS, but ISN'T for real, yet satisfies the venal mindsets. Too many stage directors seeking self aggrandizement by doing the outrageous populate even our most respected opera houses and live theater establishments Although Wagner was an extreme radical antisemite, TANNHAUSER nowhere expresses anything but a Roman Catholic concern for redemption which the Pope refused TANNHAUSER, but his virtuous lover Elizabeth by her sacrifice in her own death achieved for him. The composer Wagner had a Protestant mother, Johanna Wagner and a Jewish father, LUDWIG GEYER, whom the child WAGNER adored. Nonetheless, his competitiveness and professional protocol approach ruled against his own reason and intellect and produced a contemptible blind anti-semitic scorn for those who actually represented half of his own b iological chemistry, a major blemish that thwarted a true view of others. The Germany of today views its ancestral NAZI predecessors as the villains they were. .

May. 14 2013 01:02 PM

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