Holocaust Opera The Passenger to Make Its NY Debut at Park Avenue Armory

AUDIO: Conductor Patrick Summers on the Work's NYC Premiere

Thursday, July 10, 2014 - 11:00 AM

A scene from the Houston Grand Opera dress rehearsal of 'The Passenger,' taken 1/15/14, to be co-presented by Lincoln Center Festival and Park Avenue Armory July 10, 12 and 13, 2014. A scene from the Houston Grand Opera dress rehearsal of 'The Passenger.' (© Stephanie Berger)

Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s 1968 Holocaust opera The Passenger was suppressed by Soviet authorities during the composer’s lifetime but it has recently seen a spate of performances, including its American premiere at Houston Grand Opera in 2010. That production arrives this week for three performances at the Park Avenue Armory as part of the Lincoln Center Festival.

The opera, based on a 1959 radio drama, is set on a cruise ship, where a former Nazi SS officer thinks that she has recognized a fellow passenger as one of her former Auschwitz prisoners.

WQXR's Elliott Forrest spoke with Patrick Summers, the music director of the Houston Grand Opera, who is conducting this production. "It's one of the few pieces of Holocaust Art that was A) written by people who were there, and B) doesn't in any way try to make sense of such a human catastrophe," he said. "It is an opera that does exactly what art is supposed to do, which is to ask us questions. It does not, as a piece of art, answer any of those questions."

Listen to the full interview above and watch for an Operavore review by music critic David Patrick Stearns on Friday.


Brian Wise


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Comments [1]

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

Writing an opera on so epic a landscape demands a totality of singleness of message and orchestral and vocal writing rhat have imagination, spontaneity, and truth so clenched together that one actually feels the pain, the grief, the hopelessness of the ordeal yet can experience melody and harmonies that uplift the experience with an ethos. I speak as a Wagnerian heldentenor, an opera composer and as a teacher of composition.

Jul. 12 2014 06:12 PM

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Operavore is WQXR's digital 24/7 audio stream and devoted to Opera. The Operavore blog features breaking news, expert commentary and reviews by writers Fred Plotkin, David Patrick Stearns, Amanda Angel and others. The music stream features a continuous, carefully programmed mix of classic and contemporary opera recordings.

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