Lyric Unlimited presents Memory and Reckoning: A Series Exploring Mieczysław Weinberg and The Passenger Klezmer opera, orchestral and chamber music performances, film screening, and discussions presented with 10 partner organizations; Casting announced for The Property Jill Grove and James Maddalena headline world-premiere klezmer opera by Wlad Marhulets

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Lyric Unlimited presents
Memory and Reckoning:
A Series Exploring Mieczysław Weinberg and The Passenger
Klezmer opera, orchestral and chamber music performances, film screening, and discussions presented with 10 partner organizations

Casting announced for The Property
Jill Grove and James Maddalena headline
world-premiere klezmer opera by Wlad Marhulets

Scene from THE PASSENGER (credit Karl Forster / Bregenz Festival); Composer Mieczysław Weinberg (provided by Tommy Persson, copyright Olga Rakhalskaya)

CHICAGO – Anthony Freud, general director of Lyric Opera of Chicago, today announced Memory and Reckoning, a confluence of activities related to the Chicago premiere of Mieczysław Weinberg’s The Passenger, on stage at Lyric February 24 through March 15. This poignant and gripping 20th-century masterpiece portrays the story of the Holocaust from the perspectives of both victim and perpetrator, and was only recently rediscovered after more than 40 years of suppression.

Memory and Reckoning events will take place at venues throughout Chicago and in Urbana and will add resonance and perspective to the themes and messages in Weinberg’s opera through musical performances, a film screening, discussions, and the world premiere of Wlad Marhulets’s The Property, a newly commissioned klezmer opera.

“At the heart of The Passenger, humanity survives against impossible odds. Lyric is proud to be introducing this important piece to our audiences this season, and to be producing this wide-ranging series of related activities, which will explore both The Passenger’s historical contexts and its contemporary resonances. I hope that Memory and Reckoning will stimulate thought, discourse, and debate.”

Cayenne Harris, director of Lyric Unlimited, noted, “We are proud to partner with a number of important cultural institutions to present Memory and Reckoning. An opera like The Passenger lends itself to multiple pathways of discovery, so we are pleased to offer a breadth of activities that feature music, discussion, and art to bring greater understanding to our audiences.”

The partner organizations involved in Memory and Reckoning are the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago, the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music, the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership, the Gene Siskel Film Center, the Chicago Humanities Festival, the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Chicago.

The Property
World Premiere Klezmer Opera

The centerpiece of Memory and Reckoning is the world premiere of The Property, a klezmer opera by composer Wlad Marhulets and librettist Stephanie Fleischmann. Lyric Unlimited is proud to announce complete casting for this new opera. Internationally acclaimed opera singers Jill Grove and James Maddalena will star, along with Anne Slovin, Nathaniel Olson, Sam Handley (an alumnus of Lyric’s prestigious Ryan Opera Center training program), and Julianne Park.

Jill Grove received rave reviews for her performances as Ježibaba in Lyric’s 2014 production of Rusalka and the Witch in the company’s 2013 production of Hansel and Gretel. James Maddalena is internationally known for his performances in American opera, particularly the works of John Adams. He was last seen at Lyric as Jack Hubbard in the company premiere of Doctor Atomic in the 2007-08 season; he also created the role of Richard Nixon in Adams’s Nixon in China at Houston Grand Opera in 1987.

Adapted from the acclaimed graphic novel by Rutu Modan, The Property tells the story of Regina Segal (mezzo-soprano Jill Grove) and her granddaughter Mica (soprano Anne Slovin), who travel to modern Warsaw to try to regain family property lost during World War II. As their journey unfolds, Regina is forced to confront painful truths about her past, including her history with Roman Gorski (baritone James Maddalena). Meanwhile, Mica navigates a relationship with their Polish tour guide, Tomasz (baritone Nathaniel Olson), and realizes their reasons for coming might not be all that they seemed.

As a klezmer opera, The Property draws on the Eastern European and Jewish references from Modan’s original story. The work is scored for a cast of six singers and an ensemble of six instrumentalists, and will feature members of Chicago’s Maxwell Street Klezmer Band. The opera will be performed in English with some Hebrew and Polish text. It will be approximately 80 minutes in length with no intermission.

The 28-year-old Los Angeles-based Polish composer Wlad Marhulets, winner of the Susan W. Rose Fund Grant, the Peter D. Faith Prize, and five ASCAP Awards (including the prestigious Leonard Bernstein Award), has been commissioned to write the opera. Stephanie Fleischmann, librettist, adapted the novel with Eric Einhorn, who will direct. Like the story itself, Marhulets’s vision for the work will incorporate traditional and modern musical styles—from klezmer to funk—to illustrate that the work exists on two planes: memory and modern day.

Marhulets is known for incorporating klezmer influences into his work. His Concerto for Klezmer Clarinet and Orchestra had its world premiere by clarinetist David Krakauer with the Detroit Symphony in December 2009, and he has composed many smaller-scale chamber works that utilize the distinctive klezmer sound.

Lyric Unlimited’s commissioning of The Property and choice to present it concurrently with The Passenger  was inspired by the life and cultural identity of Passenger composer Mieczysław Weinberg. As a Polish Jew and the son of a Yiddish theater conductor, Weinberg’s formative years were steeped in klezmer and Jewish liturgical music—defining influences that later informed his compositions. And he, like Property  character Regina Segal, fled his homeland to escape the Nazi occupation.

The Property will be presented at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago on Wednesday, February 25 at 7:30pm; Thursday, February 26 at 7:30pm; and Friday, February 27 at 1pm. The February 25 and 26 performances will be followed by talkbacks featuring artists and University of Chicago faculty.  Tickets start at $20 and are on sale now at lyricopera.org/Property or 312-827-5600.

The Property will also be presented at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie on Wednesday, March 4 and Thursday, March 5, both at 7:30pm. Tickets start at $20 and are on sale now at NorthShoreCenter.org  or 847-673-6300.

Exploratory Discussions, Performances, and Film Screening

In collaboration with the Chicago Humanities Festival, Lyric Unlimited presents three special discussions on The Passenger and its larger implications, paired with chamber music performances, in Chicago and Urbana.

  • The Passenger: A Recovered Opera
    In Chicago, Lyric general director Anthony Freud will be in conversation with Andrew Patner of 98.7WFMT and the Chicago Sun-Times about Weinberg’s The Passenger and how Freud, himself the child of a Holocaust survivor, has played a key role in bringing this rediscovered work to America’s stages. The event takes place on Sunday, November 9 at 10:30am at the Newberry Library.

    This event is sold out; call 312-494-9509 to be added to the waiting list. For more information, visit chicagohumanities.org.

  • In Urbana, Lyric general director Anthony Freud will be in conversation with Katherine Syer, associate professor of musicology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The Jupiter String Quartet will perform music by Weinberg. This free event will take place at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on the UIUC campus on Saturday, February 14 at 5pm.

    This event is free and open to the public; tickets are not required. It is  sponsored by the Office of the Chancellor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

  • In Chicago, Lyric Unlimited will host a conversation with Lyric general director  Anthony FreudThe Passenger stage director David Pountney, and UIUC’s Katherine Syer on Sunday, February 15 at 1pm at the Civic Opera House in Chicago. This event will also feature a performance of Weinberg’s Piano Quintet, Op. 18 by Lyric Opera Orchestra members Robert Hanford and Katie Brauer (violin), Melissa Kirk (viola), Mark Brandfonbrener (cello), and pianist Lori Kaufman.

    Admission to this special discussion and performance is free, but reservations are required and will be available on November 19 at lyricopera.org/Memory or at 312-827-5600.

Northwestern University’s renowned Bienen School of Music is featuring music by Weinberg in two upcoming concerts.

  • The first is a Northwestern University Chamber Orchestra concert, conducted by Robert G. Hasty. The program includes Weinberg’s Rhapsody on Moldavian Themes and his Concerto for Trumpet, featuring soloist Robert Sullivan. This will take place on Thursday, January 29 at 7:30pm. Tickets are $6 ($4 for students with valid ID).
  • The second is a Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra concert. Conductor Victor Yampolsky leads a program of Weinberg’s Symphony No. 18 and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 6 on Saturday, January 31 at 7:30pm. Tickets are $8 ($5 for students with valid ID).

    Both concerts will be held at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus, and tickets can be purchased through pickstaiger.org or 847-467-4000.

Members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra will perform two concerts of chamber music by Weinberg and his contemporaries in Skokie and Chicago, accompanied by brief pre-concert talks.

  • Orchestra members Heather Wittels and Bing Grant (violin), Sunghee Choi (viola), and Calum Cook (cello) will perform a program featuring Weinberg’s String Quartet No. 4, Op. 20 and Viktor Ullmann’s String Quartet No. 3 at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie on Thursday, February 12 at 6:30 pm. Tickets are $30 ($20 for museum members) and are available at ilholocaustmuseum.org.
  • An additional chamber music performance will be held at the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership in downtown Chicago on Sunday, March 1 at 2pm. The program’s theme is “Music in Exile” and features Weinberg’s String Trio, Op. 48 and Trio for Flute, Viola, and Harp, Op. 127; Paul Ben-Haim’s Three Songs Without Words for flute and harp; and Leo Smit’s Quintet for flute, string trio, and harp. The program features Lyric orchestra members Lynn Williams (harp), Marie Tachouet (flute), John Macfarlane (violin), Carol Cook (viola), and Calum Cook (cello). Tickets are $18 ($10 for Spertus members) or $8 for students and are available online at spertus.edu or 312-322-1773.

Lyric Unlimited will present a screening of the Polish film Passenger (Pasażerka) from director Andrezj Munk at Chicago’s Gene Siskel Film Center on Sunday, February 8 at 11am. Considered a classic of Polish cinema, this 1963 film, which preceded Weinberg’s opera, was filmed partly at Auschwitz. Both works were based on Zofia Posmysz’s radio play Passenger in Cabin 45. The film will be shown in 35mm. The screening will be accompanied by a short introductory talk.

Tickets are $11 ($6 for Film Center members) and are available starting in January at siskelfilmcenter.org or at the Siskel Film Center box office (164 N. State St., Chicago).

Sponsors

The Property is generously supported by an Anonymous Donor, with cosponsorship by Joyce E. Chelberg.

Lyric Opera presentation of The Passenger is generously supported by Richard P. and Susan KiphartSylvia Neil and Daniel Fischel, the Earl and Brenda Shapiro Foundation, Sidley Austin LLPManfred and Fern Steinfeld, and Helen and Sam Zell with additional support by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute as part of the Polska Music program.

The Passenger is a co-production of Bregenzer Festspiele, Austria; Teatr Wielki Opera Narodowa Warszawa; English National Opera (ENO), London; and Teatro Real, Madrid.

Additional partners for Memory and Reckoning are the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Chicago.

Major catalyst funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation was essential to the successful launch of Lyric Unlimited, and continues to be vital to the program’s growth. Lyric Unlimited is supported by a generous leadership grant from the Hurvis Family Foundation.

About Lyric and Lyric Unlimited

Founded in 1954, Lyric Opera of Chicago’s mission is to express and promote the life-changing, transformational, revelatory power of great opera. Lyric exists to provide a broad, deep, and relevant cultural service to Chicago and the nation, and to advance the development of the art form.

Lyric is dedicated to producing and performing consistently thrilling, entertaining, and thought-provoking opera with a balanced repertoire of core classics, lesser-known masterpieces, and new works; to creating an innovative and wide-ranging program of community engagement and educational activities; and to developing exceptional emerging operatic talent.

Under the leadership of general director Anthony Freud, music director Sir Andrew Davis, and creative consultant Renée Fleming, Lyric strives to become the great North American Opera Company for the 21st century: a globally significant arts organization embodying the core values of excellence, relevance, and fiscal responsibility. For more information, visit lyricopera.org.

Launched in 2012, Lyric Unlimited is a long-term, evolving initiative that encompasses company activities that are not part of Lyric’s mainstage season. Its mission is to provide a relevant cultural service to communities throughout the Chicago area and to advance the development of opera by exploring how opera as an art form can resonate more powerfully with people of multiple backgrounds, ethnicities, and interests. Lyric Unlimited leads the development of innovative partnerships with a wide range of cultural, community, and educational organizations to create a breadth of programming through which Chicagoans of all ages can connect with Lyric. In the 2013-14 season, more than 111,000 children, students, and adults participated in Lyric Unlimited activities. For more information, visit lyricopera.org/LyricUnlimited.

 

Memory and Reckoning Performance and Events Calendar

  Artists, programs, and prices subject to change
For more information, visit lyricopera.org/Memory or call 312-827-5600

Discussion
The Passenger: A Recovered Opera
Anthony Freud, Lyric Opera general director
Andrew Patner, critic-at-large, 98.7WFMT and Chicago Sun-Times

Sunday, November 9, 2014, 10:30am
The Newberry Library
(60 W. Walton St., Chicago)
Tickets: Sold out; call 312-494-9509 to be added to the waiting list. For more information, visit chicagohumanities.org.


Orchestral Performance
Northwestern University Chamber Orchestra
Robert G. Hasty, conductor
Robert Sullivan, trumpet

WEINBERG   Rhapsody on Moldavian Themes
WEINBERG   Concerto for Trumpet
TCHAIKOVSKY   Suite No. 1 in D minor, Op. 43

Thursday, January 29, 2015, 7:30pm
Pick-Staiger Concert Hall (50 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston)
Tickets: $6; $4 for students with valid ID. Available at pickstaiger.org or 847-467-4000


Orchestral Performance
Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra
Victor Yampolsky, conductor

WEINBERG   Symphony No. 18
SHOSTAKOVICH   Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Op. 54

Saturday, January 31, 2015, 7:30pm
Pick-Staiger Concert Hall (50 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston)
Tickets: $8; $5 for students with valid ID. Available at pickstaiger.org or 847-467-4000


Film Screening
Passenger  (Pasażerka)
Andrzej Munk, director
In Polish with English subtitles
Shown in 35mm

Sunday, February 8, 2015, 11am
Gene Siskel Film Center (164 N. State St., Chicago)
Tickets: $11; $6 for Film Center members. Available starting in January at siskelfilmcenter.org or at the Film Center box office


Chamber Music Performance
Members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra
Heather Wittels, violin
Bing Grant, violin
Sunghee Choi, viola
Calum Cook, cello

WEINBERG   String Quartet No. 4, Op. 20
ULLMANN   String Quartet No. 3

Thursday, February 12, 2015, 6:30pm
Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center (9603 Woods Dr., Skokie)
Tickets are $30; $20 for museum members. Available at ilholocaustmuseum.org


Discussion with Performance
Anthony Freud, Lyric Opera general director
Katherine Syer, associate professor of musicology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Jupiter String Quartet
Nelson Lee, violin
Megan Freivogel, violin
Liz Freivogel, viola
Daniel McDonough, cello

Musical selections to be announced.

Saturday, February 14, 2015, 5pm
Krannert Center for the Performing Arts (500 S. Goodwin Ave., Urbana)
Tickets: Free and open to the public; reservations not required.

Sponsored by the Office of the Chancellor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Discussion with Performance
Anthony Freud, Lyric Opera general director
David Pountney, stage director, The Passenger
Katherine Syer, associate professor of musicology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra
Robert Hanford, violin
Katie Brauer, violin
Melissa Kirk, viola
Mark Brandfonbrener, cello
with
Lori Kaufman, piano

WEINBERG   Piano Quintet, Op. 18

Sunday, February 15, 2015, 1pm
Civic Opera House (20 N. Wacker Dr., Chicago)

Tickets: Free and open to the public. Reservations required and available starting November 19 at lyricopera.org/Memory or at 312-827-5600


The Passenger Chicago Premiere
Based on the radio play Passenger in Cabin 45 by Zofia Posmysz
In Russian, German, Polish, French, Yiddish, Czech, and English with projected English texts
Mieczysław Weinberg, composer
Alexander Medvedev, librettist
David Pountney, stage director
Sir Andrew Davis, conductor
Cast includes:
Amanda Majeski (Marta)
Daveda Karanas (Liese)
Brandon Jovanovich (Walter)

Tuesday, February 24 through Sunday, March 15, 2015
Lyric Opera of Chiacgo’s Civic Opera House
(20 N. Wacker Dr., Chicago)
Tickets: $39-$249. For complete performance details and tickets, visit lyricopera.org/Passenger or call 312-827-5600.


The Property – World Premiere
Based on the graphic novel by Rutu Modan
Adapted by Eric Einhorn and Stephanie Fleischmann
In English with some Polish and Hebrew text
Wlad Marhulets, composer
Stephanie Fleischmann, librettist
Eric Einhorn, director
Featuring members of Maxwell Street Klezmer Band
Jill Grove (Regina Segal)
Anne Slovin (Mica Segal)
James Maddalena (Roman Gorski)
Nathaniel Olson (Tomasz)
Sam Handley (Man, Cantor, Popowski, Flashback soldier, Fotoplastikon worker)
Julianne Park (Woman, Agnieska, Curator)

Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts (915 E. 60th St., Chicago)
Wednesday, February 25, 2015, 7:30pm
Thursday, February 26, 2015, 7:30pm
Friday, February 27, 2015, 1pm
Tickets start at $20. Available at lyricopera.org/Property or 312-827-5600
The two evening performances feature post-show talkbacks with artists and University of Chicago faculty.

The North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie (9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie)
Wednesday, March 4, 2015, 7:30pm
Thursday, March 5, 2015, 7:30pm
Tickets start at $20. Available at NorthShoreCenter.org  or 847-673-6300


Chamber Music Performance
Members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra
Lynn Williams, harp
Marie Tachouet, flute
John Macfarlane, violin
Carol Cook, viola
Calum Cook, cello

“Music in Exile”
WEINBERG   String Trio, Op. 48
BEN-HAIM   Three Songs Without Words for Flute and Harp
WEINBERG   Trio for Flute, Viola, and Harp, Op. 127
SMIT   Quintet for Flute, String Trio, and Harp

Sunday, March 1, 2015, 2:00pm
Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership (610 South Michigan Ave., Chicago)
Tickets: $18; $10 for Spertus members; $8 for students. Available at spertus.edu or 312-322-1773

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