San Francisco Debut: After Life

San Francisco Debut: After Life

May 18, 2015 - 12:00 pm

Music of Remembrance: "After Life" & "Farewell, Auschwitz"

Vibrant program featured California premiere of Heggie’s Farewell, Auschwitz, in addition to Holocaust- era works by Dauber and Beigelman

Music of Remembrance (MOR) made its San Francisco debut with After Life, a bold new MOR-commissioned opera by Tom Cipullo, on Monday, May 18, 2015 at Temple Emanu-El’s Music at Meyer concert series. With a libretto by Colorado Poet Laureate David Mason, Cipullo’s daring musical drama reunites Pablo Picasso and Gertrude Stein, who posthumously meet again to argue about art and life in an impassioned debate over the artist’s responsibilities in times of war. The provocative new work boasted an all-star cast. Brilliant mezzo-soprano Catherine Cook (San Francisco Opera) soars in the role of Stein. Baritone Robert Orth, who has been hailed by Opera News as “fixture of contemporary opera," shines as Picasso. They were joined by soprano Ava Pine (Fort Worth Opera), heralded by Fort Worth Weekly as “a vision of energy, enthusiasm and skill,” and accompanied by MOR’s stellar instrumental ensemble drawn primarily from the ranks of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. The same vocal trio was featured in the California premiere ofJake Heggie’s Farewell, Auschwitz, an inspiring tribute to the incredible true story of Krystyna Zywulska. Zywulska escaped from the Warsaw Ghetto and joined the Polish resistance, only to be captured and sent as a political prisoner to Auschwitz, where she created poems that circulated secretly among her fellow inmates and became anthems of resistance. In Farewell, Auschwitz, commissioned by MOR in 2013, Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer have adapted five of Zywulska’s actual verses, capturing their rich juxtaposition of compassion, mockery and defiance. Audiences were treated to a performance of the beguiling Serenata for Violin & Piano (1942) that the young Robert Dauber composed while imprisoned in the Terezín concentration camp, and David Beigelman’s mesmerizing Dybbuk Dances (1941), originally performed in the Lodz ghetto where Beigelman was forced by the Nazis. This concert represents MOR’s debut San Francisco performance.

Concert Program:

Robert Dauber's Serenata for Violin & Piano (1942)

Mikhail Shmidt, violin; Mina Miller, piano

David Beigelman's Dybbuk Dances (1941)

Mikhail Shmidt, violin; Laura DeLuca, clarinet; Jonathan Green, double bass

Jake Heggie's Farewell, Auschwitz (2013)

Poetry written by Krystyna Zywulska in Auschwitz

English adaptation by Gene Scheer

Commissioned by Music of Remembrance

Ava Pine, soprano; Catherine Cook, mezzo soprano; Robert Orth, baritone;

Laura DeLuca, clarinet; Mikhail Shmidt, violin; Walter Gray, cello;

Jonathan Green, double bass; Craig Sheppard, piano

 SAN FRANCISCO PREMIERE of Tom Cipullo's After Life (2015)

Libretto by David Mason

Directed by Erich Parce

Commissioned by Music of Remembrance

Catherine Cook, mezzo soprano; Robert Orth, baritone; Ava Pine, soprano;

Zart Dombourian-Eby, flute; Laura DeLuca, clarinet; Mikhail Shmidt, violin;

Walter Gray, cello; Craig Sheppard, piano