Out of Darkness: Two Remain

Past Production

Composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheers 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 Theater at Herren’s

This production of Out of Darkness: Two Remain is sponsored by Harold Brody and Donald Smith.

Additional support provided by National Endowment for the Arts.


Get the Feeling of the Show

Total time estimate: 1 hour 52 minutes

Out of Darkness: Two Remain Community Events

FREE Preview & Discussion on Out of Darkness: Two Remain

Wednesday, March 14, 2018 | Doors open at 6:30pm, Program Begins at 7pm
The Center for Civil and Human Rights
RSVP: https://www.civilandhumanrights.org/event/darkness-preview-discussion 

An evening of music, discussion, and reflection.

Members of the Atlanta Opera Studio will joined by local favorite Tom Key as they perform selections from composer Jake Heggie‘s and librettist Gene Scheer’s Out of Darkness: Two Remain, a moving two-act opera based on true stories of two holocaust survivors.

Led by cast members and local community leaders, the evening’s discussion will focus on the ongoing importance of holocaust education as well as the impact of Paragraph 175, a provision of the German Criminal Code that made homosexuality illegal. This provision led to the persecution of thousands of LGBTQ+ people in Nazi Germany.


FREE Panel Discussion with the Creators of Out of Darkness: Two Remain

Wednesday, April 4, 2018 at Noon
The Breman Museum
RSVP: https://www.thebreman.org/Events

Join The Atlanta Opera and The Breman Museum for a free discussion with the internationally acclaimed creators of Out of Darkness: Two Remain. The panel features composer Jake Heggie, librettist Gene Scheer, and the original commissioner of the opera, Mina Miller, from the Seattle based organization Music of Remembrance, and stage director Tomer Zvulun, General and Artistic Director of The Atlanta Opera.


Discoveries Backstory: Talkback with the Creators & Cast of Out of Darkness: Two Remain

Thursday, April 5, 2018 | Immediately following the opening night performance
Theatrical Outfit
More information: https://www.atlantaopera.org/performance/darkness-two-remain/

Join composer Jake Heggie, librettist Gene Scheer, and Mina Miller from the commissioning organization Music of Remembrance, along with stage director Tomer Zvulun, General & Artistic Director for The Atlanta Opera, and the cast of Out of Darkness: Two Remain for an informal talkback discussion.

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.


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).

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.


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

Sponsored by the Molly Blank Fund of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation

The Discoveries series

The Discoveries series is dedicated to audience members who are seeking new works, new ideas and fresh perspectives. These are not your standard operas.


As part of The Opera’s effort to bring opera to new audiences all over Atlanta, these productions are performed in exciting alternative venues that we don’t traditionally perform opera in.


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


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.

Characters & Cast

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.”


A ghost from the past and Krystyna’s friend.

Elise Quagliata

Mezzo-soprano Elise Quagliata has gained notice over the past decade for the rich, unique beauty of her voice, her musical intelligence, her theatrical range and her riveting effect on audiences everywhere.


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.


A ghost from the past and Krystyna’s friend.

Gina Perregrino

Praised by Opera News as a “standout”, young mezzo Gina Perregrino is already garnering attention on stages around the country. She is currently a young artist in The Atlanta Opera Studio.


A ghost from the past and Krystyna’s friend.

Jasmine Habersham

Soprano Jasmine Habersham is a versatile and dynamic performing artist. She was last seen at The Atlanta Opera as Edith in The Pirates of Penzance (2016).


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.


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.

Composer of Operas


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.


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)



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.



John McFall

John began his choreographic career while a principal dancer with San Francisco Ballet. Many commissions followed across North America, including premieres by National Ballet of Canada, Houston Ballet, Dance Theater of Harlem, Oakland Ballet, and Hubbard Street Dance Company of Chicago. John also received an invitation from Mikhail Baryshnikov to premiere two ballets for American Ballet Theater. Baryshnikov was featured in a duet with Robert LaFosse titled Follow the Feet. John’s first commission by an Opera Company was San Francisco Opera’s U.S. of America twin bicentennial world premiere of Wallace Stegner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “Angle of Repose.” Music composed by Andrew Imbrie with libretto by Oakley Hall. John also choreographed and performed in Aida, for the Seattle Opera. In 1995, John became artistic director/CEO of Atlanta Ballet. He immediately moved the organization into a new facility to establish Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education. He then established a multicultural dance curriculum that engaged the community. Over time, this helped develop the Dance Centre into a National Dance Institute. With local and national foundation support, he established dance programs in the public schools. Bringing arts education into the academic setting created enthusiasm and inspired students to learn. His keen interest in programming innovative and original works for Atlanta Ballet led to collaborations with such artists as the Indigo Girls and Andre Patton (Big Boi) from Outkast. Balancing classical dance with some of the most imaginative and creative choreography from around the world became a McFall trademark.