Halifax Theatre for Young People presents the company’s 2019 production, Brundibár, digitally with online streaming Wednesday, June 3, 7 p.m.
With music by Hans Krása and libretto by Adolf Hoffmeister, the uplifting half-hour opera (presented in English) is about children embracing the power of music and friendship.
Tessa Mendel directed a cast of 15 students from across HRM, performing with musicians Scott Macmillan and members of Symphony Nova Scotia, with conductor Eszter Horvath.
“With our spring programming cancelled due to COVID-19, and recognizing the need to keep our community connected, we are presenting this digital screening with a special ‘behind the scenes’ introduction featuring the children who performed the show talking about their experience, ” Mendel says in a press release.
The opera is about children who sing in the marketplace to raise money for their sick mother, but are chased away by the organ player Brundibár. With the help of animal and bird friends, as well as other children, they defeat the organ player and continue to sing.
While the opera is joyful, its history is bleak. Brundibár premiered in German-occupied Prague at the Jewish orphanage before the mass deportation of Jews began in 1942 to Theresienstadt. Krása worked from a smuggled copy to reconstruct the music for instruments available at the camp.
It was performed 55 times in the camp — a source of hope and resistance to the prisoners — until the children, the composer, director and musicians were sent to Auschwitz following the final performance.
“In this context, this light-hearted opera provides an excellent opportunity to introduce children and youth of all ages to the topic of the Holocaust and racial discrimination, and the need to work together to defeat oppression.” says Mendel.
In the cast, led by choreographer Veronique MacKenzie, are: Vera Lynn Dunlop-Vaillancourt, Charlie Boyle, Keira Lamey, Emily Gallant, Jasmine Aulenback, Ava Hadley, Vivi Brodin, Brielle Prevost, Linnea Brodin, Emily Feildsend, Brianna Desmond, Ada Bluestein and Eva Provost with Piper Doak as the accordion player.
The creative team includes costume designer Elizabeth Perry with her 1940s-style garments and lighting designer Matt Downey.
The digital presentation is available starting Wednesday, 7 p.m., for 24 hours. Patrons reserve tickets for free at http://www.tickethalifax.com and receive an email with the link to stream the show as well as link to donate to the company if they are able.
Halifax Theatre for Young People has had to postpone its spring production of Mi’kmaq Stories: Past & Present, and cancel its production of Spelling 2-5-5, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For more information on the show, please visit:
For my review on this blog go to: https://nsreviews.blog/2019/05/18/brundibar-light-hearted-childrens-opera-framed-in-bleak-history-in-htyp-show/