On Saturday, November 9th, at 8:00pm, the first orchestrated concert performance of Lost Childhood, will be premiered by The National Philharmonic, Piotr Gajewski music director, and The Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda, MD. Commissioned and developed by AOP, Lost Childhood is an opera in two acts with music by Janice Hamer and a libretto by Mary Azrael, and taken from the memoir of the same name by Holocaust survivor Yehuda Nir and Nir’s conversations with Gottfried Wagner, the great-grandson of composer Richard Wagner. The opera has been developed over several years, most recently at the International Vocal Arts Institute in Tel Aviv, under the artistic guidance of Joan Dornemann.
The opera begins in 1939 in Lvov, Poland. In the living room of a well-to-do Jewish family, Julek, 9, and his teenage sister dance the tango to music from the radio. Their father enters and turns to the BBC broadcast to hear news of impending war. Fast forward to 1993, an elegant bar in a Manhattan hotel, where Judah, a psychiatrist (formerly the child Julek), sits across from his German colleague, Manfred, born after the war to a prominent family of Nazi sympathizers.
In a gripping confrontation between a post war German and a Jewish Holocaust survivor, each deeply troubled by his own lost childhood, the past comes alive in the present. Through a series of flashbacks, Manfred, tormented, faces his family’s dark past, while Judah reveals for the first time, with bravado and humor, anger and grief, how he, his mother and sister outwitted the Third Reich. With searing emotion and heartwarming lyricism, the music recollects the terrors of the Holocaust and inspires a hopeful vision of the future.
Judah, performed by tenor Michael Hendrick, is based on Nir, a psychiatrist and the author of the memoir The Lost Childhood. The inspiration for Manfred is Nir’s friend Wagner, portrayed by baritone Christopher Trakas. Wagner was a great-grandson of Richard Wagner and a specialist in post-Holocaust dialogue between victims, perpetrators and their descendants.
This performance marks the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht (“The Night of Broken Glass”), on November 9-10, 1938, when a series of violent anti-Jewish pogroms occurred throughout Germany and elsewhere.
For ticket prices and more information on the production, click here. (http://www.strathmore.org/eventstickets/calendar/view.asp?id=9316)