12 December 2006

LA Opera Announces "Recovered Voices" Project Featuring Works by Composers Banned Under Third Reich

The Los Angeles Opera has announced the inception of "Recovered Voices," a project that seeks to bring the music of composers suppressed by the Holocaust to the company's stage. The project is being underwritten through a $3.25 million gift from Los Angeles philanthropist and opera board member Marilyn Ziering, a founder of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

All performances under the "Recovered Voices" rubric will be led by the company's music director, James Conlon, a longtime proponent of the work of composers whose lives and careers were destroyed by the Third Reich. Some of the composers that will be featured in performances by the company include Alexander Zemlinsky, Kurt Weill, Viktor Ullmann, Franz Schreker, Walter Braunfels and Erich Korngold.

"There is so much previously lost music that has now reached the stage due to his effort," said Plácido Domingo, Los Angeles Opera's general director. "I have great admiration for Marilyn Ziering, whose visionary support will give audiences today a significant opportunity to hear what the Third Reich attempted to silence." Domingo noted that in addition to her $3.25 million gift, Ziering personally raised an additional $750,000 from additional supporters of L.A. Opera, amounting to a total gift of $4 million to the company.

Two concerts of operatic excerpts scheduled for March will formally inaugurate the project, which will evolve to include main stage productions of complete operas by Zemlinsky, Ullmann, Schreker and Braunfels in future seasons. Included on the programs for the concerts on March 7 and 10 at Los Angeles Opera's Dorothy Chandler Pavilion are excerpts from Schreker's The Stigmatized, Braunfels' The Birds, Ernst Krenek's Johnny Tunes Up, Ullmann's Der Kaiser von Atlantis, Erwin Schulhoff's Flames and Korngold's The Dead City; the concerts' repertory will also include complete performances of Zemlinsky's A Florentine Tragedy. Joining the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra will be soloists including soprano Tatiana Pavlovskaya, tenors Anthony Dean Griffey and Roderick Dixon and Baritones Donnie Ray Albert and Martin Gantner.

"The Third Reich silenced two generations of composers, the greatest single rupture in what had been a centuries-long stream of German classical music," said Conlon in a press release issued by the company today. "The creativity of the first half of the twentieth century is far richer than we think. We have a special opportunity at LA Opera to present works recovered from oblivion and at the same time mitigate a great injustice. We can take an important step toward reviving the music of those whose lives were affected by the Holocaust or whose work was otherwise deemed 'offensive' by that authoritarian regime."

Music director at both Los Angeles Opera and the Ravinia Festival, Conlon has recorded and programmed an abundance of works by forgotten Holocaust-era composers through many of the organizations that he works with. Each summer at Ravinia, he presents works by a different composer included in the "Recovered Voices" group with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; this summer's festival is to focus on Alexander Zemlinsky, whose operas and orchestral works Conlon has recorded on nine separate releases. A production of Ullmann's Der Kaiser von Atlantis - written while the composer was imprisoned in the Terezín concentration camp - has already played in New York, at Italy's Spoleto Festival, at the Ravinia Festival, at Houston Grand Opera and with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

More information can be found at Los Angeles Opera.

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