Royal Opera House Stages The Passenger

Madrid´s Royal Opera House – El Teatro Real –  is staging a unique performance of The Passenger, one of Poland´s most important post war operas.

Based on the autobiographical work of Polish journalist and novelist, Zofia Posmysz,  a survivor of Auschwitz and Ravensbrück extermination camps, Die Passagierin represents an emotional cataclysm whose epicentre is the relationship between two women who were in Auschwitz in two very different positions: one was a prison guard and the other, a Jewish prisoner.

Now both are passengers on a ship carrying them to the new world and a new life.

The stage on the top deck of the passenger ship while below the horrifying memories of their former lives are enacted.

The opera combines two simultaneous actions in two different periods of time and context and is an emotional earthquake in a “spectacular setting that will show the spatial duality of a concentration camp and a holiday cruise, two antagonistic situations experienced by both protagonists of this moving opera about forgiveness”.

The original story spread across Poland as a radio drama called the The Passenger from Cabin 45 in 1957 which was subsequently made into a novel and film before the celebrated Soviet composer Shostakovich recognised its suitability for an opera.

It was his recommendation to his contemporary Polish-born Soviet composer Mieczylaw Weinberg, that turned it into an opera.

Weinburg who was Jewish had escaped to the USSR just a few days before Hitler´s armies marched into Warsaw in September 1939.

There he found some success as a composer only to find himself facing prosecution in the Stalin purges of the 1940s which targeted many Jewish figures.

Completed in 1968 and silenced for decades by the Soviet authorities, this powerful opera is a must see.

The opera runs until the 24th March.









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