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.