New Productions

The (Female) Passenger)

Mieczyslaw Weinberg
1919 - 1996

Opera in two acts, eight scenes and an epilogue
Libretto by Alexander Medwedew after the novel by the same name by Zofia Posmysz
First ever staged performance July 19th 2010, Bregenz Festival
Sung in several languages, with German surtitles

Duration: 3 hours with one interval

About the work

Thou shallt never forget, is a law missing from the Ten Commandments. This is hard to do when applied to the horrors of a recurrin ...
Thou shallt never forget, is a law missing from the Ten Commandments. This is hard to do when applied to the horrors of a recurring nightmare experienced by the persecuted and their persecutors. One day things rise to the surface again, like in an Ibsen play. Nothing of that which was, is lost. The Polish-Jewish composer Weinberg's opera is about totalitarianism. Marta, a former prisoner in Auschwitz, reflects on those times of terror. Her constant enemy is the fear of forgetting, silencing the voices of her dead companions: »If, one day, your voices die away, then we shall perish...«
Die Passagierin (female passenger), based on a novel by Zofia Posmysz, a former concentration camp prisoner, takes place on an ocean liner but the story keeps returning to the hell of the camp. Two women, Lisa, a former warder and Marta, a former prisoner, meet on the deck of a ship sailing to Brasil in the late 1950s. Suddenly everything comes flooding back. The present becomes entwined with the past, the ship's sirens become SS sirens, the cabins, barracks, the salon orchestra, the camp orchestra. Weinberg's music is wonderfully expressive. The first ever staged performance of this work, in which German, Polish, Russian, Jiddish and French are sung, took place at the 2010 Bregenz Festival, whose organisers saved it from obscurity, and being forgotten.


1960 Lisa is sailing to Brasil with her husband Walter, a German diplomat. She sees another passenger who looks like someon ...
1960 Lisa is sailing to Brasil with her husband Walter, a German diplomat. She sees another passenger who looks like someone she was certain had died – Marta. She is so disturbed by the memories that come flooding back that she confesses that she was an SS warder in Auschwitz. Walter fears a diplomatic scandal. Lisa asks a steward to find out where the woman comes from. 1944 Roll call in Auschwitz. Lisa selects an inmate to help her. It is Marta. The prisoners sense death in every corner of the camp. An overseer finds a note, in Polish. Marta is to translate it. To protect the resistance movement, she pretends it is a love letter to her fiancé, Tadeusz. A prisoner, Tadeusz, is to play the Commandant's favourite waltz at a concert. He is sent to fetch the violin and sees Marta. Lisa breaks the rules and leaves them alone them. Tadeusz makes jewellery for the SS. Lisa finds a medallion featuring the Madonna, with Marta's face. She offers him another chance to meet Marta. Tadeusz, not wanting to be in her debt, refuses. Marta's 20th birthday. Lisa finds Marta's roses from Tadeusz. She provokes her, telling her that he refused another chance to meet her. Marta trusts Tadeusz completely. The list of the next people to be executed is read out. Lisa has spared Marta so that she can hear Tadeusz' concert. Transatlantic Liner Lisa and Walter decide to forget the past. They go to dance. The female passenger asks for the Commandant's favourite waltz to be played. Camp Tadeusz plays Bach's Chaconne instead of the Commandant's waltz. He is taken away. Epilogue Marta is alone, thinking about Tadeusz. She hopes that all those who suffered and lost their lives in the camp will never be forgotten.

Sponsorenlogo Frankfurter Patronatsvereins - Sektion Oper With generous support from the
Frankfurt Patronatsverein (Patrons) - Sektion Oper

Sunday 08.03.2015 19:00 h

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Leo Hussain
Anselm Weber
Stage Designer
Katja Haß
Costume Designer
Bettina Walter
Lighting Designer
Olaf Winter
Bibi Abel
Norbert Abels
Chorus Master
Tilman Michael

Tanja Ariane Baumgartner
Peter Marsh
Sara Jakubiak
Brian Mulligan
Anna Ryberg
Jenny Carlstedt
Maria Pantiukhova *
Judita Nagyová
Nora Friedrichs *
Joanna Krasuska-Motulewicz
Old Woman
Barbara Zechmeister
1sr SS Man
Dietrich Volle
2nd SS Man
Magnús Baldvinsson
3rd SS Man
Hans-Jürgen Lazar
Older Passenger
Thomas Faulkner*
Chief Warden
Margit Neubauer
Michael McCown

Oper Frankfurt's Orchestra and Chorus

* Member of the Opera Studio


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