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May 1, 2011 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM


CHILDREN'S OPERA. Holocaust-Era Opera Features Newark Boys Chorus School and Mount Saint Mary Academy. Admission Free. Admission on a first-come, first-served basis.


Brundibar's Honored Guest, Ela Stein Weissberger who played the role of the Cat in all 55 Terezín performances, will join the audience!
After liberation from the camp with her Mother and elder sister Ilona Ela lived in Israel before coming to the US in 1958, and now lives in Tappan, New York. Her experiences in the Theresienstadt concentration camp are captured in her book The Cat With the Yellow Star: Coming of Age in Terezín (New York: Holiday House, 2006) which she authored with Susan Goldman. 

The rarely-performed Brundibar will be sung by student choristers of the Newark Boys Chorus School and Mount Saint Mary Academy, Watchung. The production will be presented under the baton of New Jersey State Opera Artistic Director Jason Tramm and directed by writer, composer and actor Daniel Neiden.  Charles Czarnecki is orchestrator/associate music director.  

Brundibar is the story of good, evil, friendship and hope, in which a brother and sister, helped by forest animals and a chorus of children, overcome the villainous organ grinder Brundibar, who has stolen money from them. Written in 1938 by Hans Krasa and Adolf Hoffmeister, the opera had its premiere at a Jewish orphanage in Prague, and later at the Czechoslovakian concentration camp Theresienstadt, where the characters were portrayed by children imprisoned there. The most notable performance took place on June 23, 1944 for a visiting Red Cross delegation – a show that became part of the Nazi propaganda film The Fuhrer Presents the Jews with a City.

Ela Weissberger, who performed the role of the Cat in Brundibar more than 50 times between 1943 and 1944 as a child prisoner at Theresienstadt, said, “Music was part of the resistance against the Nazis. When we sang the finale of this little opera, Brundibar was like Hitler.” The message, she said, was clear.  “We sing, ‘We will overcome him and we will win the war against him!’ I believe the audience understood it. They would clap and we would sing it again several times.”

A concentration camp for Central European Jews, Terezin was also known by its German name, Theresienstadt.
At times, the Nazis used this so-called “model ghetto” for propaganda purposes. In June 1944, after a frenzied period of superficial
improvements, they turned parts of the camp into a fake town and agreed to let the International Red Cross inspect it. In reality, the
prisoners endured continual hunger, disease, and overcrowding. Of the 140,000 people who passed through Terezin 33,000 died there, mostly of starvation and illness. The inmates lived with the constant threat of deportation, as they were regularly transported to Auschwitz and other camps in Poland.

About the Sister Rose Thering Fund
The Sister Rose Thering Fund for Education in Jewish-Christian Studies was created and named in honor of Sister Rose Thering, O.P., Ph.D., in recognition and appreciation of her exemplary dedication throughout her life to improving Jewish-Christian relations through teacher education, especially at the elementary and secondary school levels.  The goals of the Fund’s programs are to reduce prejudice born of ignorance and misperception, to promote means for the conveying the richness of the Jewish and Christian traditions accurately and without bias and to foster cooperation among Jews and Christians in areas of common social welfare.  More than 350 teachers throughout New Jersey have benefited from Fund scholarships for their studies at Seton Hall University’s Jewish-Christian Studies graduate program during the past 18 years, and have had an impact on more than 150,000 students in their classes.

About the Newark Boys Chorus School  
The Newark Boys Chorus School (NBCS) was established n 1969 to create an integrated academic and music program unique to the city of Newark. Fully accredited by the Middle State Association of Colleges and Schools, NBCS is responsible for the academic and musical education of 80 young urban men from the greater Newark area. The school’s mission is to inspire in the students a love for learning, a quest for excellence and a compassion for humanity. NBCS students have performed around the world with a diversified repertoire that includes traditional classical music, spirituals, folk music and jazz.  Donald C. Morris has served as Music Director of NBCS since September 1996.


About Mount Saint Mary Academy
Mount Saint Mary Academy is an all-girls private, Catholic, independent college preparatory school located in Watchung, New Jersey.  The Mount is committed to challenging each student to develop her fullest potential in a Christian atmosphere of love and caring in the tradition of the Sisters of the Mercy and Foundress, Venerable Catherine McAuley, who promoted excellence in education with special concern for women.   Since its founding in 1906, Mount Saint Mary Academy’s core values – justice, respect, integrity, compassion, and service – remain at the heart of the school’s mission.  Building on its rich tradition, the Mount is committed to fully preparing each student for 21st century realities through the seamless integration of technology into the curriculum, the promotion of critical thinking in an intellectually challenging environment and the celebration of life-long learning. The Mount Saint Mary Academy Chorus is directed by Sister Mary Gomolka.

About Jason Tramm
Jason C. Tramm is recognized as one of the most dynamic young conductors on the podium today. Maestro Tramm's artistic center is his home state of New Jersey, where he is actively involved in the state’s premier music institutions. Recent guest engagements have taken him to Italy, Romania, Albania, Bulgaria and throughout the United States. Maestro Tramm was named the second Artistic Director of the New Jersey State Opera in 2008.  Last season, he led a historic production of Gershwin’s' Porgy and Bess that was hailed as a triumph by critics and audiences alike.  He has also performed on two NPR radio broadcasts and an Emmy nominated NJN program. Education and working with young musicians have always been a central part of Dr. Tramm's career. Dr. Tramm holds degrees in music from the Crane School, the Hartt School, and received a Doctor of Musical Arts in Conducting from Rutgers University.

About Daniel Neiden
Daniel Neiden is a director, producer, composer, writer, and performer. Twenty-five years ago, he was one of the original directors of a miraculously discovered score called Brundibar.  He has produced and co-written benefits for the Labor Party, including Just Healthcare, with Pete Seeger, Michael Musto, and Tom Chapin; and Silkwood Today, with Meryl Streep, Mike Nichols, and Ron Silver. Currently, Daniel is composing and developing his own musical version of Shakespeare's The Tempest, which had a workshop at the Cherry Lane Theater and is finishing new works, Bollywood and Vine and Rapunzarella White, with lyricist June Rachelson-Ospa. As an Emmy® Award-winning performer (Learning Channel), Daniel collaborated on more than a dozen shows created by Elizabeth Swados, encompassing such venues as WNET, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), The Delacorte Theater, Manhattan Theatre Club (MTC) and The Public Theater.

About Charles Czarnecki
Charles Czarnecki is a music director, music producer, orchestrator and creative consultant in New York. He's presently musical supervisor for several developing and produced shows, and centers his career in musical theatre around his collaborative relationships with many emerging and established writers of the

theatre. As a music producer, Mr. Czarnecki is constantly developing new talent and original projects ranging from pop to world music. He also scored and musically supervised three films, one of which made its debut at the Cannes Film Festival, and the others getting recognition at numerous other festivals around the world. Czarnecki was a conductor at Jersey Boys on Broadway between 2006 and 2009, has worked as personal music director and arranger for all four original leads of the Tony Award®-winning production, and continues to do adjunct music direction and training for the now seven-company international franchise. Maestro Czarnecki made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2007 guest conducting the New York Pops. He is a proud graduate of the Amherst School of Music, the Purchase Conservatory of Music, the International Academy of Music, and the Manhattan School of Music.

About SOPAC                                                                                                                                               
Since 2006, SOPAC (South Orange Performing Arts Center) has been serving as the premier performing arts center in the region. SOPAC offers innovative artistic and cultural experiences for diverse audiences in an intimate, inviting environment. Located at One SOPAC Way in South Orange, New Jersey, the multidisciplinary arts center hosts a variety of live performances, community events and education programs for all ages.  To further expand its offerings, SOPAC has a partnership with the Juilliard School of Music to present Juilliard @ SOPAC—a series featuring upcoming musicians from the acclaimed conservatory.  SOPAC is also a home for Seton Hall University Arts Council’s performances, including Classical Concert Series, Jazz N’ the Hall performances, and Seton Hall Theatre productions. www.SOPACnow.org.

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321 East 73rd Street
NY 10021 New York
United States


May 1, 2011 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM


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