First Performance: Post-
Commemorating the 75th Anniversary of Kristallnacht
The National Philharmonic with Maestro Piotr Gajewski, 12 professional soloists and the National Philharmonic Chorale will present the first complete concert performance of the opera Lost Childhood by composer Janice Hamer and librettist Mary Azrael on Saturday, November 9 at 8 pm at the Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda, Maryland. Premiering on the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht ("Night of Broken Glass"), when a wave of violent anti-Jewish pogroms throughout Germany marked the unofficial start to the Holocaust, Lost Childhood is based on the memoir by Holocaust survivor Yehuda Nir. Tickets and more information can be obtained at www.nationalphilharmonic.org or by calling 301-581-5100.
Nir, a New York psychiatrist and Professor Emeritus at Cornell Medical School, was forced into hiding from the Nazis as a child. When his father was arrested in 1941, 11 year-old Nir, his mother and teenaged sister survived by moving from place to place disguised as Polish Catholics. The opera takes place in Poland and Germany during World War II and in Manhattan in 1993. “The story,” notes Azrael, “is often darkly humorous and ultimately triumphant as the family evades the monstrous power of the Third Reich.”
The central relationship in the opera—between a Jewish survivor and a German descendant of a Nazi sympathizer—is fictitious, but several real-life relationships have determined the production and plot. One was the acquaintance of Hamer’s parents and Gajewski’s father at the retirement community of Ingleside at King Farm in Rockville, where they live. Hamer’s meeting the older Gajewski at Ingleside and discovering that he was a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto encouraged her to contact his son the conductor.