The Passenger | © Stephanie Berger

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.”

—Houston Chronicle


“A hymn to humanity. A perfect masterpiece...the music stirs the very soul.”

—Dimitri Shostakovich

The Passenger is approximately three hours, with one intermission.

Houston Grand Opera

The Passenger

July 10–13

Sung in English.

Park Avenue Armory

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