Out of Darkness: Two Remain

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Composer Jake Heggie‘s and librettist Gene Scheer‘s moving two-act opera centers on Holocaust survivors visited by ghosts of their past. In Act I, Krystyna shares her gripping story of survival with a journalist, and is helped by the ghosts of Auschwitz who were inspired by her written lyrics. In Act II, Gad Beck is visited by his first true love, the poet Manfred Lewin, who perished in Auschwitz. As Manfred implores Gad to remember and celebrate their love, the painful truth of their stories and fates emerges. Based in part on the true stories of two Holocaust survivors: the Polish dissident Krystyna Zywulska (1914-1993) and the gay German Jew, Gad Beck (1923-2012).

General & Artistic Director Tomer Zvulun will direct. Presented in collaboration with Theatrical Outfit.

Performed in English with English supertitles

The Balzer Theatre at Herren’s

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Synopsis

Composer: Jake Heggie
Librettist: Gene Scheer

Originally commissioned by Music of Remembrance.
Thank you JakeHeggie.com.
Source material for the libretto includes documents and journals in the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Zywulska’s I Survived Auschwitz (1946), as well as various interviews, including several from the documentary film Paragraph 175 (directed by Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman).

ACT ONE: “KRYSTYNA”
Her Jewish identity hidden, Krystyna Zywulska was a political prisoner at Auschwitz-Birkenau. In secret, she composed lyrics to inspire fellow prisoners, even as she carried out her harrowing job in the Effektenkammer: cataloguing the personal effects of thousands of women and children before they were murdered in the gas chambers next door. Many years after the war, she is asked by a journalist to share her stories and record them on a tape player. Haunted and helped by the ghosts of her past – Zosha, Manfred, and her younger self, Krysia – she struggles to find the words.

ACT TWO: “GAD”

Gad Beck’s first true love was the poet Manfred Lewin, who was 19 when he and his entire family were murdered in Auschwitz. In the many years since the war, Gad has tried his best to forget what happened, but he keeps the book of Manfred’s original poems close by. As an old man, he is visited by Manfred’s ghost one night. As Manfred implores Gad to remember and celebrate their love, the painful truth of their stories and fates emerges. It is estimated that more than 100,000 men and women were imprisoned for homosexuality during the Holocaust; it is not known how many thousands were murdered. Even after the war was over, Paragraph 175, the German law prohibiting homosexuality, remained in effect until 1969.

Courtesy of Bill Holab Music

Newbie Guide

The Discoveries series

Now in its third full season, the Discoveries series is dedicated to audience members who are seeking new works, new ideas and fresh perspectives. These are not your standard operas.

Locations

As part of The Opera’s effort to bring opera to new audiences all over Atlanta, these productions are performed in exciting alternative venues, such as The Atlanta Botanical Garden, Le Maison Rouge, Conant Performing Arts Center, Rialto Center for the Arts, and the Alliance Theatre.

Supertitles

Many operas are in a foreign language. Supertitles are similar to subtitles in a film, except they are projected above the stage. These translations will help you follow what’s happening on stage.

What to Wear

There is no dress code at The Opera and you will see everything from jeans to evening gowns and formal suits. Most people use it as a chance to enjoy dressing up in their own style.

Arriving in Good Time

If you are late, you will have to sit the first act in the back and then in the intermission ushers will show you to your seat. Plan ahead to arrive with extra time.

Directions to Discoveries series Venues

Enhance Your Visit

Backstory

Discoveries series performances include events either before or after the performance. As part of the Backstory program, these experiences allow audience members to learn more about the opera, open a conversation around important topics, and participate with the cast in conversation, dancing, and many other formats. Free for ticket holders.

Familiarizing Yourself with the Story

Because of the foreign languages, classical music, and often complex plots, you will very likely enjoy the performance better if you spend a few minutes familiarizing yourself with the story and characters in advance. Some people even like to listen to the music in advance and others prefer to let it wash over them during the show and perhaps look it up afterwards.

Krystyna Zywulska

A survivor of the Holocaust who shares her stories of the horrific events at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Maria Kanyova

Soprano Maria Kanyova has received praise for her portrayals of the leading heroines in the opera repertoire, and has been hailed for her “pure, forceful voice with a pleasing, soft edge.”

Krysia

A ghost from the past and Krystyna’s younger self.

Bryn Holdsworth

Soprano Bryn Holdsworth is a second-year Studio artist and made her Atlanta Opera debut in Silent Night as Madeleine.

Zosha

A ghost from the past and Krystyna’s friend.

Catherine Cook

Mezzo-soprano Catherine Cook has been praised for her “round mezzo tone of great beauty,” and has excelled in a wide range of roles with leading companies throughout the United States.

Manfred

A ghost from the past. Krystyna’s friend and Gad Beck’s true love.

Ben Edquist

Baritone Ben Edquist is a recent graduate of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, and was named one of OperaNow‘s “10 Young Singers to watch” in 2016.

Gad Beck

A survivor of the Holocaust who has memories of Manfred Lewin, his lover, and a poet who perished at Auschwitz.

Tom Key

Atlanta theatre veteran Tom Key had his Atlanta Opera debut in The Abduction from the Seraglio.

Composer

Jake Heggie

Jake Heggie is the American composer of the operas Dead Man Walking (libretto by Terrence McNally), Moby-Dick (libretto by Gene Scheer), It’s A Wonderful Life (Scheer), Great Scott (McNally), Three Decembers (Scheer), To Hell and Back (Scheer), Out of Darkness: Two Remain (Scheer), At the Statue of Venus (McNally) and The Radio Hour: A Choral Opera (Scheer). He is currently at work on If I Were You (Scheer) a new opera based on the Faustian story by Julian Green, commissioned by the Merola Opera Program for Summer of 2019. Heggie has also composed nearly 300 art songs, as well as concerti, chamber music, choral and orchestral works, including the Ahab Symphony.

The operas – most created with the distinguished writers Terrence McNally or Gene Scheer – have been produced on five continents. In February 2017, Dead Man Walking received its 50th international production at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC in a new production by director Francesca Zambello. Since its San Francisco Opera premiere in 2000, Dead Man Walking has been performed more than 300 times and recorded live twice (Erato Records in 2001; Virgin Classics in 2011). In addition to major productions throughout the USA, Dead Man Walking has been seen in Dresden, Vienna, Sydney, Adelaide, Calgary, Montreal, Cape Town, Dublin, Copenhagen, and Malmö, with future production set for Vancouver, Madrid and London. Moby-Dick has received seven international productions since its 2010 premiere at The Dallas Opera with future productions in the USA and Europe. The San Francisco Opera production was telecast as part of Great Performances’ 40th anniversary season and released on DVD (EuroArts). Moby-Dick received its East Coast premiere at the Kennedy Center in 2014. It is also the subject of a book by Robert Wallace, titled Heggie & Scheer’s Moby-Dick – A Grand Opera for the 21st Century (UNT Press). Three Decembers, Heggie & Scheer’s three-character chamber opera, has received nearly 20 productions internationally.

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In 2016, Heggie was awarded the Eddie Medora King Prize by the UT Austin Butler School of Music. He was also the recipient of the Champion Award from the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus in a private concert that featured a performance by the great Patti LuPone. Heggie was the keynote speaker for the 2016 meeting of the National Association of Schools of Music in Dallas, and this year, he will give commencement addresses at Eastman’s Jacobs School of Music and Northwestern’s Bienen School of Music. A Guggenheim Fellow, he served for three years as a mentor for Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative. He is a frequent guest artist and master teacher at universities and conservatories, including Boston University, Bucknell, Cincinnati Conservatory, Cornell, Eastman, CU Boulder, Northwestern, The Royal Conservatory in Toronto, UNI, UNT, UT Austin, USC’s Thornton School, Vanderbilt University, and at festivals such as SongFest at the Colburn School, Ravinia Festival, and VISI in Vancouver.

Jake Heggie has collaborated as composer and pianist with some of the world’s most loved singers, including sopranos Kiri Te Kanawa, Renée Fleming, Ailyn Pérez, Heidi Stober, Karen Slack, Talise Trevigne, Kristin Clayton, Ann Moss, Caitlin Lynch and Lisa Delan; mezzo-sopranos Joyce DiDonato, Susan Graham, Frederica von Stade, Jamie Barton, Suzanne Mentzer, Joyce Castle, Elise Quagliata, Catherine Cook and Sasha Cooke; Broadway stars Patti LuPone and Audra McDonald; tenors Ben Heppner, William Burden, Stephen Costello, Jay Hunter Morris, Paul Groves and Jonathan Blalock; baritones Keith Phares, Nathan Gunn, Morgan Smith, Rod Gilfry, Bryn Terfel, Michael Mayes and Robert Orth. He has also worked closely with extraordinary instrumentalists such as flutists Carol Wincenc and Lorna McGhee; violinists Leila Josefowicz, Aloysia Friedmann and Dawn Harms; cellists Matt Haimowitz, Emil Miland and Anne Martindale-Williams; pianists Jon Kimura Parker and Gustavo Romero; as well as the Brentano String Quartet and the Alexander String Quartet. Directors who have championed his work include Leonard Foglia, Joe Mantello, Francesca Zambello and Jack O’Brien. All of Heggie’s major opera premieres have been led by Patrick Summers; he has also worked closely with conductors John DeMain, Joseph Mechavich and Nicole Paiement.

Jake Heggie lives in San Francisco with his husband, Curt Branom. jakeheggie.com

Composer of Operas

Librettist

Gene Scheer

Mr. Scheer’s work is noted for its scope and versatility. With the composer Jake Heggie, he has collaborated on many projects, including the critically acclaimed 2010 Dallas Opera world premiere, Moby-Dick, starring Ben Heppner as Captain Ahab; Three Decembers (Houston Grand Opera), which starred Frederica von Stade; and the lyric drama To Hell and Back (Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra), which featured Patti LuPone. Other works by Scheer and Heggie include Camille Claudel: Into the fire, a song cycle premiered by Joyce di Donato and the Alexander String Quartet. Mr. Scheer worked as librettist with Tobias Picker on An American Tragedy, which premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in 2005. Other collaborations include the lyrics for Wynton Marsalis’s It Never Goes Away, featured in Mr. Marsalis’s work Congo Square. With the composer Steven Stucky, Mr. Scheer wrote the oratorio August 4, 1964, for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. The work was nominated for a Grammy in 2012 for best classical composition. In 2015, Mr. Scheer collaborated with Joby Talbot on the opera Everest, based on the doomed 1996 Everest expedition. With Jennifer Higdon, Mr. Scheer wrote an operatic adaptation of Cold Mountain, which premiered in the summer of 2015 at the Santa Fe Opera. This work won the International Opera award, presented in London, for the best World premiere in 2015. Recently, along with Ms. Higdon, Mr. Scheer was nominated for a Grammy for his work on Cold Mountain for best classical composition. In December of 2016 Mr. Scheer and Jake Heggie premiered an operatic adaptation of It’s a Wonderful Life for the Houston Grand Opera. Also a composer in his own right, Mr. Scheer has written a number of songs for singers such as Renée Fleming, Sylvia McNair, Stephanie Blythe, Jennifer Larmore, Denyce Graves, and Nathan Gunn. The distinguished documentary filmmaker, Ken Burns, prominently featured Mr. Scheer’s song “American Anthem” (as sung by Norah Jones) in his Emmy Award-winning World War II documentary for PBS entitled The War.

Conductor

Joseph Mechavich

Conductor Joseph Mechavich is known for his exceptional artistry and infectious energy which he brings to every performance. His passion and commitment to excellence in the art form has helped his forge strong personal and career-defining relationships with a number of opera companies and orchestras in the United States and abroad.

Maestro Mechavich has presided over productions of Porgy and Bess for Deutsche Oper Berlin, Nixon in China for Auckland Philharmonia/New Zealand Opera, Il barbiere de Siviglia for The Washington National Opera, Madama Butterfly for New York City Opera, Florencia en el Amazonas for Arizona Opera and Romeo et Juliette for Florida Grand Opera. “One of the best things about this production [Romeo et Juliette] is the conducting of Joseph Mechavich, who led the proceedings superbly…You rarely hear this score with the kind of big-boned force with which Gounod wrote it, but Mechavich let it rip, with first rate results.” (Palm Beach Artspaper)

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Director

Tomer Zvulun

General and Artistic Director of The Atlanta Opera since 2013, Tomer Zvulun is also one of opera’s most exciting stage directors, earning consistent praise for his creative vision, often described as cinematic and fresh. His work has been presented by prestigious opera houses around the world, including The Metropolitan Opera, the opera companies of Seattle, San Diego, Dallas, Boston, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Buenos Aires, Wexford, New Orleans, Minnesota and Wolf Trap, as well as leading educational institutes and universities such as The Juilliard School, Indiana University, Boston University, and IVAI in Tel Aviv. His debut in New York was in a new production of L’heure espagnole and Gianni Schicchi at Juilliard Opera Center that was praised by The New York Times for its “witty, fast-paced staging and the director’s Felliniesque style.”

Known for creating innovative, visually striking new interpretations for standard operas as well as championing new works by contemporary composers, his work has been seen internationally in Europe, South and Central America, Israel, and the US. Recently he created critically acclaimed new productions of Semele (Seattle Opera) Lucia di Lammermoor (Seattle, Atlanta, Cleveland), La bohème (Seattle, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Atlanta), Lucrezia Borgia (Buenos Aires), Gianni Schicchi (Juilliard, IVAI Tel Aviv), L’heure espagnole (Juilliard), The Magic Flute (Cincinnati, Atlanta, Indiana University), Don Giovanni (Wolf Trap, Cincinnati), Die Fledermaus (Dallas, Kansas City), Falstaff (Wolf Trap, Des Moines), Rigoletto (Boston, Atlanta, Omaha), Madama Butterfly (Atlanta, Castleton Festival), Tosca (National Theatre Panama, Atlanta) and Dialogues of the Carmelites (IVAI Tel Aviv), among many others.

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His passion for producing new works by living composers was realized in the acclaimed European premiere of Kevin Puts’ Silent Night at Wexford Festival Opera in 2014. The production won two Irish Times Awards and will be remounted at The Glimmerglass Festival and Washington National Opera.
In 2015-16 he created a new production of Soldier Songs (David T. Little) as a part of the award-winning Discoveries Series in Atlanta in a production that traveled to San Diego Opera. He then went on to create an acclaimed new production of Dead Man Walking that marked his return to New Orleans Opera. This was his second collaboration with composer Jake Heggie following his new production of Three Decembers at Boston University.

Some of his upcoming projects include the world premiere of the new opera Dinner at Eight (Bolcom) at Minnesota Opera, followed by the European premiere at Wexford Festival, new productions of Maria de Buenos Aires and Die Fliegende Holländer in Atlanta, a new Giulio Cesare for the Israeli Opera (Acco Festival), a new Eugene Onegin at Kansas City and a revival of his acclaimed production of La bohème in Dallas.

Since taking the leadership in Atlanta he increased the operations of the company from 12 to 26 performances per season, while stabilizing the financials. Some of his noted achievements include launching the successful Discoveries Series, a program that presents new contemporary works and rarely done operas in alternative venues, creating the first young artist program in the company’s history, and doubling the company annual fundraising.

His work at The Atlanta Opera earned the company an international reputation by earning numerous awards and prizes, including a nomination for the 2016 International Opera Awards in London, the selection of the acclaimed Discoveries Series in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Best of 2015 list, and his recent nomination for the 2016 Atlanta Luminary awards.

As a stage director, he made his debut in Atlanta with a critically acclaimed Der Fliegende Holländer in 2009, a production which led to a series of memorable new co-productions with sister opera companies including The Magic Flute, Lucia di Lammermoor, Madama Butterfly, Rigoletto, La bohème, and Romeo and Juliet.

During his 7 years at the Metropolitan Opera, Tomer has directed revivals of Tosca and Carmen, and worked on a number of new productions, most notably La rondine, La traviata, La fille du régiment, Iphigénie en Tauride, and Manon. Tomer was born and raised in Israel, served as a medic in a combat unit in IDF, attended the Tel Aviv Open University and The Harvard Business School executive program.

TZ New Headshot 2013