Lost Childhood concert this November

August 27, 2013

Judah (Guy Mannheim), right, reflects on his childhood self, Julek (Moran Abouloff) in AOP’s “Lost Childhood” workshop in Tel Aviv, Israel, July 2007.

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)

Yehuda Nir’s “Lost Childhood” commemorated on his 80th Birthday

May 6, 2010

Lost Childhood book cover

Yehuda Nir as a boy on the cover of his memoir "The Lost Childhood"

Dr. Yehuda Nir, Holocaust survivor and author of the memoir “The Lost Childhood”, celebrated his 80th birthday last week amongst a crowd of friends and family.  Nir’s tragic childhood remembrance inspired librettist Mary Azrael and composer Janice Hamer to create the operatic version of “Lost Childhood”– a riveting full-length performance based on Yehuda Nir’s plight, and conversations with Gottfried Wagner (great-grandson of Richard Wagner).  American Opera Projects commissioned the opera in 2001, and has nurtured its development throughout the following years.  AOP presented a staged workshop of the opera for the first time  on July 29,2007, to rave reviews.

Selections of “The Lost Childhood” were performed in honor of Yehuda’s 80th birthday at The Box on Chrystie Street.  Nearly one hundred of Yehuda Nir’s admirers and close friends were said to be in attendance.  AOP for its own part, delighted at participating in the celebrations and sharing of a great operatic work.

Read the full Huffington Post article here.

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