Weinberg’s The Passenger Nominated for Golden Mask Awards
small, Weinberg’s The Passenger Nominated for Golden Mask Awards, pasazerka_fot_grzedzinski_15.jpg, The Passenger by Mieczysław Weinberg, Ekaterinburg State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre, 2016, photo: Wojciech Grzędziński
Mieczysław Weinberg’s The Passenger has been nominated for the biggest Russian theatre award, the Golden Mask, in four categories: Best Opera Production, Best Conductor, Best Director and Best Female Role. The award ceremony will take place on 15th April 2018.
contemporary polish opera
The Passenger is the first of seven operas by Weinberg, a Polish Jew who escaped from Poland, without his family, to the Soviet Union when the Nazis invaded in 1939. The Passenger is based on the real-life experience of Holocaust survivor Zofia Posmysz, who was imprisoned in Auschwitz during World War II. Posmysz’s book, The Passenger, forms the basis of the libretto by Alexander Medvedev.
While sailing to Brazil, Lisa, a former SS Officer from Auschwitz, believes she sees a former inmate and confesses her past to her husband. Interwoven with the story are flashbacks to her time in the concentration camp. Weinberg’s opera was effectively banned in the USSR and only received its premiere in Bregenz fourteen years after the composer’s death.
An encounter between two women – one a former Auschwitz guard, the other a former prisoner - plunges them both back into the horrors of the Holocaust, pitting perpetrator against victim in a moral battle between guilt and denial, retribution and absolution.
The world premiere of the full-length opera took place at the Bregenzer Festspiele in 2010 thanks to the support of the festival, the Adam Mickiewicz Institute and the Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera in Warsaw. The Russian premiere took place in 2016 at the Ekaterinburg State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre, where it was put on by an international cast led by Maestro Olivier von Dohnányi, head conductor of the Ekaterinburg Theatre, and Thaddeus Strassberger, American director and set designer. Strassberger has worked on opera stages around the globe and, in 2016, was awarded a Golden Mask in the ‘Critic's Award for Best Production’ category for the opera Satyagraha.
In February 2017, the Ekaterinburg-version of The Passenger was performed on the new stage of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow and was accompanied by a number of events about the life and works of Mieczysław Weinberg.
The Passenger has now been nominated for the Golden Mask award in four categories: ‘Best Opera Production’, ‘Best Conductor’, ‘Best Director’ and ‘Best Female Role’. The Golden Mask award ceremony will take place on 15th April 2018.
Source: press materials, compiled by NR, Mar 2018