Photo Flash: First Look at Lyric Opera of Chicago's THE PASSENGER

Lyric Opera of Chicago presents Mieczys?aw Weinberg's powerfully haunting opera, The Passenger, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis in a new-to-Chicago production by David Pountney. It opens on Tuesday, February 24 with six performances through Sunday, March 15. Performance dates are Feb. 24, 28, Mar. 4, and 9 at 7:30pm; and Mar. 12 and 15 at 2pm. The Passenger will be sung in Russian, German, Polish, French, Yiddish, Greek, Czech, and English with projected English translations.

"It's rare to 'discover' a prolific and important composer whose works were suppressed for decades, and to be able to share his most significant work with our audience in a brilliant production created by David Pountney," said Anthony Freud, Lyric's general director. "With Sir Andrew Davis conducting the powerful score, this will be an unforgettable moment in our company's history."

"What ultimately comes across in this opera is humanity's extraordinary ability to survive," said Sir Andrew. "There is no letup in dramatic tension, but there are also wonderfully tender moments."

The survival of the human spirit when confronted with unimaginable cruelty and suffering is profoundly expressed in The Passenger. Weinberg (1919-96) and his librettist Alexander Medvedev (1927-2010) based their opera on the radio play and novel Passenger from Cabin Number 45 by Auschwitz survivor and writer Zofia Posmysz. (Now 91, Ms. Posmysz attended the 70th anniversary commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz on Jan. 27.) She has been in Chicago since Feb. 13 for "Memory and Reckoning" events surrounding this important premiere, and was featured in a Q&A with director David Pountney at a Feb. 15 symposium at the Chicago Cultural Center. Ms. Posmysz will attend the opening-night performance ofThe Passenger. For complete details on all events and performances go tolyricopera.org/memory.

Composed in 1968 but not performed onstage until 2010 when it premiered at Austria's Bregenz Festival, The Passenger offers a riveting story of a woman whose past returns to haunt her almost beyond endurance. That woman is Liese (mezzo-soprano Daveda Karanas) who, when first seen, is traveling with her husband Walter (tenor Brandon Jovanovich) to his new diplomatic post in Brazil. On board Liese thinks she sees a Polish woman, Marta (soprano Amanda Majeski), whom she assumed was dead. Liese's terror becomes obsessive, compelling her to reveal to Walter that she had worked as an overseer at Auschwitz, where Marta had been among the inmates. The rest of the opera concentrates on events involving Liese and Marta at Auschwitz, including Marta's reunion with her lover, Tadeusz (baritone Joshua Hopkins, debut), and Marta's friendships with Katya (soprano Kelly Kaduce, debut) and Bronka (mezzo-soprano Liuba Sokolova, debut).

Lyric Opera is presenting the Bregenz production, which has subsequently been seen in Warsaw, London, Houston, and New York. Sir Andrew Davis conducts and David Pountney directs the production with set designs by the late Johan Engels, costume designs by Marie-Jeanne Lecca, and lighting by Fabrice Kebour (the latter two are Lyric debuts).

Lyric's performances of The Passenger are dedicated to the memories of designerJohan Engels and Kenneth G. Pigott, Lyric's president and CEO (2011-15), who died February 13.

Lyric Opera presentation of The Passenger is generously made possible byRichard P. and Susan Kiphart, Sylvia Neil and Daniel Fischel, the Earl and Brenda Shapiro Foundation, Sidley Austin LLP, Manfred and Fern Steinfeld, and Helen and Sam Zell, with additional support from the Adam Mickiewicz Institute as part of the Polska Music program.

The Passenger is a coproduction of Bregenzer Festspiele, Austria, Teatr Wielki Opera Narodowa Warszawa, English National Opera (ENO), London, and Teatro Real, Madrid.

For tickets and information call (312) 827-5600 or go tolyricopera.org/passenger. Learn more about this production at lyricopera.org/InsidePassenger. Follow the conversation on Twitter:#LyricPassenger.

Photos by Michael Brosilow & Robert Kusel

high res photos

Photo Flash: First Look at Lyric Opera of Chicago's THE PASSENGER
THE PASSENGER Company

Photo Flash: First Look at Lyric Opera of Chicago's THE PASSENGER
Brandon Jovanovich, Daveda Karanas & THE PASSENGER Company

Photo Flash: First Look at Lyric Opera of Chicago's THE PASSENGER
Brandon Jovanovich, Daveda Karanas

Photo Flash: First Look at Lyric Opera of Chicago's THE PASSENGER
Amanda Majeski, Kelly Kaduce

Photo Flash: First Look at Lyric Opera of Chicago's THE PASSENGER
THE PASSENGER Company

Photo Flash: First Look at Lyric Opera of Chicago's THE PASSENGER
Amanda Majeski & THE PASSENGER Company

Photo Flash: First Look at Lyric Opera of Chicago's THE PASSENGER
Brandon Jovanovich, Daveda Karanas

Photo Flash: First Look at Lyric Opera of Chicago's THE PASSENGER
Amanda Majeski, Joshua Hopkins

Photo Flash: First Look at Lyric Opera of Chicago's THE PASSENGER
Joshua Hopkins

Photo Flash: First Look at Lyric Opera of Chicago's THE PASSENGER
Amanda Majeski, Daveda Karanas, Joshua Hopkins

Photo Flash: First Look at Lyric Opera of Chicago's THE PASSENGER
Amanda Majeski, Daveda Karanas

Photo Flash: First Look at Lyric Opera of Chicago's THE PASSENGER
Agnieska Rehlis, Amanda Majeski

Photo Flash: First Look at Lyric Opera of Chicago's THE PASSENGER
Amanda Majeski

Photo Flash: First Look at Lyric Opera of Chicago's THE PASSENGER
Amanda Majeski, Daveda Karanas

Photo Flash: First Look at Lyric Opera of Chicago's THE PASSENGER
Daveda Karanas, Brandon Jovanovich

Photo Flash: First Look at Lyric Opera of Chicago's THE PASSENGER
Daveda Karanas, Brandon Jovanovich

Photo Flash: First Look at Lyric Opera of Chicago's THE PASSENGER
Amanda Majeski, Daveda Karanas, Brandon Jovanovich


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