press release: After presenting two successful and innovative video productions in 2020-21, University Opera is back on stage with the Wisconsin premiere of the moving chamber opera by Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer, Two remain (out of darkness). This piece of memory, full of exquisite and evocative music, tells the stories of Holocaust survivors Krystyna Zywulska and Gad Beck. For many years after the war, both are haunted by the memories of those they lost and what they had to sacrifice in order to survive. The work is based on the memoirs of Zywulska and Beck as well as material from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and the documentary film Paragraph 175. Three performances will be presented at Music Hall on the UW-Madison campus: November 19 at 7:30 p.m., November 21 at 2:00 p.m. and November 23 at 7:30 p.m. Mead Witter School of Music’s Director of Orchestral Activities, Oriol Sans, will lead a chamber ensemble made up of members of the UW-Madison Symphony, and Karen K. Bishop, opera director David Ronis, will lead the production.
Krystyna Zywulska was born Sonia Landau, Jewish, in 1914. In 1942, she escaped the Warsaw ghetto, took on a Christian identity and began working with the Polish Resistance. She was later arrested by the Nazis and sent to Auschwitz as a political prisoner. Secretly composing lyrics to inspire fellow inmates, his job in the camp was to catalog the personal effects of thousands of women and children before they were murdered in the gas chambers. Many years after the war, a journalist asked him to record his stories. In the grip of the ghosts of her past, she struggles to find the words.
Gad Beck’s first true love, Manfred Lewin, was sent to Auschwitz at the age of 19 and murdered. As an old man, Beck is visited by the image of Manfred as the painful truth of their story emerges. It is estimated that over 100,000 men and women were imprisoned by the Nazis for homosexuality during World War II and many of them were murdered. Even after the end of the war, paragraph 175, the German law prohibiting homosexuality, remained in force until 1969.
These are just two of the thousands and thousands of survivor stories, but they have a lot to teach us. When thinking about the Holocaust, we tend to focus on the millions of people who were lost. Corn Two remain (out of darkness) presents the stories of two survivors as they painfully struggle with ‘survivor guilt’. Years later, they are still haunted by the untold atrocities of war, the profound losses they suffered, and the choices they made for a living. In the finale, the characters from both stories come together to proclaim their survival and, perhaps, to find some sort of closure.
The cast includes Sachie Ueshima as Krystyna Zywulska and guest artist / actor Joshua Kelly as Gad Beck. Kenneth Hoversten and Kyle Sackett alternate as Beck’s young lover, Manfred and Isabel Celata play Krysia, Zywulska at a younger age. Kathryn Flynn and Maria Marsland alternately as Zosia complete the cast; Lindsey Meekhof and Maria Steigerwald as Edka; and Jerzy Gillon and Emily Quartemont share Mariola’s performances.
Greg Silver will design both the sets and the lights and Hyewon Park will design the costumes. The production manager will be Grace Greene. Other members of the production team include Justin Kroll, assistant director; Kyle Sackett, director of operations for University Opera; Ana Gonzalez, master electrician; and assistant manager Cecilia League. Kenneth Hoversten and Molly Schumacher will be costume assistants.
After each performance there will be a discussion with the cast and creative staff.
Tickets are $ 27 for the general public, $ 22 for seniors, and $ 10 for UW-Madison students, available in advance through the Campus Arts box office at (608) 265-ARTS and online. at https://artsticketing.wisc.edu/. Tickets can also be purchased in person at the Wisconsin Union Theater box office or at the door one hour before the performance. The Carol Rennebohm Auditorium is located in Music Hall at the foot of Bascom Hill on Park Street.