Brundibár by Hans Krása, with a libretto by Adolf Hoffmeister, was composed in 1938 as a submission for a children’s opera competition. Krása was arrested and transported to Terezin Ghetto before he ever heard the performance, which premiered in Nazi occupied Prague. The score for Brundibár was smuggled into the ghetto and performed 55 times by the inmates, for the inmates.

Telling the story of a brother and sister who overcome a local town bully in order to help their ill mother, Brundibár was the most popular cultural activity and powerful symbol of hope when performed by the Jewish people imprisoned in Terezín Ghetto.

Academic and musician Dr Joseph Toltz, for the past 17 years, has been researching the music of Terezín and Brundibár’s place in the memory of Holocaust survivors.

Rediscovered in the 1970s, the opera has been performed around the world as a way to connect today’s younger generations with survivors of the Holocaust and to strengthen the world’s watch against oppression and discrimination.

The Sydney Brundibár Project is a collaboration between Dr Toltz and chamber opera company Opera Prometheus, in association with the Sydney Jewish Museum.

Aiming to introduce children to the joys of opera, as well as introducing them to the lessons of the Holocaust, Brundibár will be performed for the first time in Sydney on 14 August 2014 at the City Recital Hall Angel Place. In the following weeks, The Sydney Jewish Museum will host a series of special performances for school groups, which will include a conversation with a Holocaust survivor plus a tour of the Museum.

Sandra Tiltman

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