Opening night of MOT’s The Passenger to be broadcast live on 90.9 FM
Michigan Opera Theatre’s 45th fall opera season continues with the company premiere of The Passenger, a Holocaust-themed opera composed by Mieczysław Weinberg, a composer of Polish-Jewish descent, for four performances from Nov. 14-22. The opening night performance, Nov. 14, will be broadcast live on WRCJ 90.9 FM, with commentary beginning at 7:00 p.m. with host Dave Wagner.
Weinberg originally composed The Passenger in 1968 while living in Russia, but the work was suppressed by the Soviet government for more than 40 years. The opera is based upon Zofia Posmysz’s novel of the same name. The production will be sung in seven languages–Russian, German, Polish, French, Yiddish, Czech, and English–with English supertitles projected above the stage.
In Weinberg’s opera, a West German diplomat, Walter, and his wife, Liese, are ocean-bound for a new posting in Brazil. Unbeknownst to her husband, Liese once served as an SS officer in Auschwitz. There’s another woman on the same cruise ship, a passenger who resembles Marta, a young woman who was interned at Auschwitz. Her presence haunts Liese. As the opera unfolds, the audience travels into Liese’s memory, descending from the elegant ocean liner to the dark world of the camp, its barbed wire and barracks and train-tracks. There, the cruelty of the overseer is matched by the strength and goodness of the prisoners. Guilt and denial, lies and truth, fear and courage, and unbreakable love, are the anchors of this artistic and emotional experience.
Michigan Opera Theatre has invited participation from community groups throughout metro Detroit to engage in an educational discourse about the importance of remembering genocide and addressing it in our own times. For a full list of community events related to The Passenger, please visit: Community Events – The Passenger.
“The combined power of all of these people is extraordinary. Art can unite. Music can make a difference; opera can serve as a catalyst for productive dialogue,” said Wayne S. Brown, president and CEO of Michigan Opera Theatre.
The cast includes Daveda Karanas (Liese), Adrienn Miksch (Marta), David Danholt (Walter), Anna Gorbachyova (Katya), Liubov Sokolova (Bronka), Marian Pop (Tadeusz), Angela Theis (Yvette), Ashley Maria Bahri Kashat (Krystyna), Kristin Eder (Vlasta), Courtney Miller (Hannah), Jeff Byrnes (1st SS Officer), Lauren Skuce (Old Woman/Alta), Brent Michael Smith (2nd SS Officer), Joseph Michael Brent (3rd SS Officer), Stephen Lusmann (Older passenger, steward and commandant), and Geraldine Dulex (Capo/Overseer). For complete casting information, please visit michiganopera.org.
The opera is directed by revival director Rob Kearley, who worked closely with David Poutney, the opera’s original director. MOT favorite Steven Mercurio, who most recently conducted MOT’s Faust last spring 2015, conducts.
The Passenger is a coproduction of Bregenzer Festspiele, Austria, Teatr Wielki Opera Narodowa Warzawa, and English National Opera ENO. Original designers include, set designer Johan Engels, costume designer Marie-Jeanne Lecca, and lighting designer Fabrice Kebour.
Ticket prices for performances of The Passenger range from $29 to $149 and may be purchased online a www.michiganopera.org by calling (313) 237-7464, or in person at the Detroit Opera House (1526 Broadway, Detroit). Tickets may also be purchased at Ticketmaster.com, at any Ticketmaster outlet, or by calling (800) 745-3000.
Access tickets for students and young professionals, ages 18-40, are available for the performance on Wednesday, Nov. 18, at a reduced price, with a special reception following the performance.
A free opera talk begins one hour prior to each performance.