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Weinberg’s ‘The Passenger’ to be held at NY armory

November 26, 2013

NEW YORK (AP) — Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s 1968 opera about the Holocaust, “The Passenger,” will be given its New York premiere at the Park Avenue Armory next summer as part of the Lincoln Center Festival.

Mezzo-soprano Michelle Breedt will sing Liese in the David Pountney production, a role she performed when the staging opened at the 2010 Bregenz Festival in Austria. Tenor Joseph Kaiser will sing Walter.

Patrick Summers will conduct the opera following performances he will lead in January at the Houston Grand Opera, where he is artistic and music director.

The opera, to be sung in English, portrays a German couple traveling on an ocean liner in the 1950s. Liese, a former SS officer, thinks she recognizes a former Auschwitz prisoner as one of the passengers.

Pountney’s staging of Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s “Die Soldaten” was presented at the Armory’s Drill Hall as part of the 2008 Lincoln Center Festival. Festival director Nigel Redden said the armory, with its soaring steelwork, is an ideal space for Weinberg’s opera.

“The scene goes back and forth between Auschwitz and an ocean liner. The contrast is meant to be very strong,” he said. “It connects with the glory of the ship and the horror of the box cars and the railroad tracks.”

There will be performances July 10, 12 and 13 in a co-presentation of the armory and the festival. The staging is a co-production that also includes the Teatr Wielki in Warsaw, the English National Opera and the Teatro Real in Madrid.

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