reviewed by Paula Citron
Holocaust Education Week
Composed by Hans Krasa
Arranged and conducted by Paul Hoffert
Starring the students of Netivot HaTorah
At Koerner Hall
Brundibar is a legendary children’s opera because it has long been associated with the Holocaust. As part of Holocaust Education Week, the opera was given a concert performance at Koerner Hall featuring the students of Netivot HaTorah. Actor Albert Schulz read the narration that replaced the spoken dialogue.
The opera was written in 1938 for a Jewish orphanage in Prague, and composer Hans Krasa smuggled a copy into the Nazi transit camp Theresienstadt where children performed the opera over 50 times. Krasa, his librettist Adolf Hoffmeister and most of the children died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz. The simple story about a brother and sister, who with the help of animals, defeat the evil organ grinder Brundibar is a veiled reference of hope for the ultimate defeat of Hitler.
While the children looked adorable in their costumes, their diction was indecipherable. The program should have contained the lyrics. What was brilliant in orchestral colour was conductor Paul Hoffert’s brilliant new arrangement.