AOPTV Presents Livestream Discussion About Opera SEMMELWEIS

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AOPTV Presents Livestream Discussion About Opera SEMMELWEIS

Join Ray Lustig, Composer and Matt Gray, General Director at The American Opera Project (AOP), for a conversation about Semmelweis, which is streaming on demand at

Ray and Matt will talk about the history of Semmelweis, lessons for our time, and the development of the project. Several early workshops, directed by Matt Gray, were staged with AOP's generous support. Viewers are encouraged to ask questions in the comments!

Semmelweis was developed in AOP's First Chance and Composers & the Voice programs through the support of The Sloan Foundation Science and Technology Project, Ensemble Studio Theater, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Warren Widmann, and Ana Berlin.

SEMMELWEIS is a new 75-minute music-theater work inspired by the tragic story of nineteenth-century Hungarian obstetrician Ignác Semmelweis (1818-1865), who discovered the cure for a devastating epidemic but could not convince the world of the simple solution, and died alone in an asylum. Dr. Semmelweis had been the first to see an unthinkable truth: that the deadly disease was passing from the bodies of the dead to healthy mothers on the unwashed hands of the doctors themselves.

SEMMELWEIS explores the theme that everything we think we know can be overturned violently, and asks what is it like to be the first to see into a terrible blind spot and perceive a truth too awful to believe? To be an "outsider"-a "foreign" doctor, Hungarian, but living and working in Vienna's top hospital in a xenophobic era-and to fear that no one heard you, that the answer may die with you? To hold an earth-shattering insight, and yet be haunted by all the mothers that would not be saved.

Though the year 2018 marked the 200th birth year of Ignác Semmelweis, our world seems still not to have absorbed the powerful lessons of this story. There has never been a more urgent moment in history to reflect on the mystery of insight, the tension between truth and hubris, our cultural myopia, and the clear truth that we, as individuals and as a society, need our "outsiders," our fresh and brave ideas, literally to survive.

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