Goodman Auditorium – Illinois Holocaust Museum
Our incredible cast from the Forbidden Opera concert
Gerald Frantzen, Alison Kelly, Patrycja Likos,Anatoliy Torchinskiy, Agnieszka Likos, Jenny Schuler and William Roberts
A concert that needed to be heard…
Originally, we founded Folks Operetta so that we could present some of our favorite Viennese operettas to the public. As we immersed ourselves in this repertoire, we learned that a disproportionate number of the genre’s most important composers and librettists were Jewish – and that many of them faced persecution or exile during the Third Reich. The stories of these artists were almost completely unknown to the public. A chapter of our cultural history had been forgotten. We told some of their stories in our concert, “Operetta in Exile.”
Our interest in that era led us to wonder, what about opera? What became of the opera composers of the same time period? No major cultural institution in Chicago was addressing this question. Repertoire that’s off the beaten track can be a risky proposition. This was an opportunity for our company. We love to delve into music that has fallen into obscurity – though it once was popular.
Composers like Viktor Ullmann, Hans Krasa, and Gideon Klein, who were interned at the Terezin concentration camp and later killed, have received a fair amount of attention in recent years – and deservedly so. Less attention has been paid to some to the most prominent composers of the era who went into exile in Britain or the United States. Franz Schreker, Egon Wellesz, and Alexander von Zemlinsky were major figures in Central Europe in the 1920s and early 30s. Much of their music has been forgotten, in stark contrast to the popularity it once enjoyed.
We feel strongly that the stories of these composers deserve to be told and their memories need to be preserved. Beyond that, however, these are original, provocative artists, not just victims. Their music stands on its own merits and deserves to be restored to the repertoire. Perhaps other performing arts organizations will be inspired to include this music on their programs in the future.
Holocaust Museum’s Goodman Auditorium. Tickets are now on sale.