Music Mieczyslaw Weinberg
Libretto by Alexander Medvedev
English adaptation by David Pountney
Based on the novel by Zofia Posmysz
Conductor Patrick Summers
Director David Pountney
Houston Grand Opera, Orchestra, and Chorus
Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s The Passenger has been called by the Independent (U.K.) “the most significant opera composed in the Russian language since Prokofiev’s War and Peace.” With an unflinching eye, this late 20th-century masterwork focuses on a former SS prison camp overseer on board an ocean liner who fears her secret past is about to be revealed. Framing the action is a towering multi-level set that seamlessly moves between the carefree world of the ocean liner above and the grim camp below. Director David Pountney’s definitive production of this Polish-born, Soviet-trained composer’s most important work was inspired, in part, by the soaring space of Park Avenue Armory’s massive Wade Thompson Drill Hall, where he staged Zimmerman’s Die Soldaten for Lincoln Center Festival in 2008.
Despite being called “a perfect masterpiece” by Shostakovich, The Passenger was suppressed by Soviet authorities and remained on the shelf until the premiere of this production in 2010. Patrick Summers conducts the Houston Grand Opera, Orchestra, and Chorus with a stellar cast of singers, including Melody Moore, Michelle Breedt, and Joseph Kaiser.
Prior to each performance, the ARC Ensemble (Artists of the Royal Conservatory Canada) will perform chamber concerts devoted to the music of Weinberg. The 45-minute concerts are free and begin at 6:00. Tickets must be secured in advance and are currently sold out.
July 10: From the Lyrics of Baratinsky, op. 125 (1979), songs for bass and piano; Piano Trio, op. 24 (1945)
July 12: Cello Sonata no. 2, op. 63 (1958); Violin Sonata no. 1, op. 12 (1943)
July 13: Piano Quintet, op. 18 (1945)
“Ingenious storytelling, potent music, commanding performances and vivid, fast-paced staging.”
“A hymn to humanity. A perfect masterpiece...the music stirs the very soul.”
The Passenger is approximately three hours, with one intermission.
The Lincoln Center Festival 2014 presentation of The Passenger is made possible in part by generous support from the Polska Music Program of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, Robert and Helen Appel, the LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, Larry A. and Klara Silverstein, Judy and Michael Steinhardt, Nancy & Morris W. Offit, and One Anonymous.
Additional support provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.
The Passenger is a co-production of Bregenzer Festispiele, Teatr Wielki, English National Opera, and Teatro Real.
Houston Grand Opera’s performances of The Passenger in New York are generously underwritten by Bill and Sara Morgan and Amanda and Morris Gelb.
Additional support provided by Robin Angly & Miles Smith, Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, Joyce Z. Greenberg, Houston First Corporation, Houston Methodist, Schlumberger, Rhonda and Donald Sweeney, and Phoebe and Bobby Tudor.
The Lincoln Center Festival 2014 presentation of the ARC Ensemble is made possible in part by generous support from the Polska Music Program of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute.
Lincoln Center Festival gratefully acknowledges the Polish Cultural Institute New York for its support in bringing Zofia Posmysz to New York for the performances of The Passenger and to participate in the panel discussions.
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