Artistic & Music Director
Margaret Alkek Williams Chair
Houston Grand Opera
2014 Winter Repertory
The American Premiere of THE PASSENGER by Mieczyslaw Weinberg.
Houston Grand Opera’s winter repertory opens with the American premiere of The Passenger by exiled Polish-Jewish composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg. Set in the late 1950s following the horrors of the Second World War, The Passenger depicts a German couple, Liese and Walter, on board an ocean liner where former SS officer Liese thinks she recognizes an Auschwitz prisoner among their fellow passengers. Director David Pountney’s brilliant staging takes the action across Johan Engels’s two-level set, while mezzo Michelle Breedt sings the role of Liese. She will be joined by Canadian tenor Joseph Kaiser. Patrick Summers will conduct.
The Passenger – Mieczyslaw Weinberg (American Premiere)
Saturday, January 18, 2014 – 7:30 p.m. – Opening Night
Wednesday, January 22, 2014 – 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, January 25, 2014 – 7:30 p.m.
Friday, January 31, 2014 – 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, February 2, 2014– 2:00 p.m.
BRILLIANT. MAJESTIC. VIBRANT.
Join us for a dazzling seven-opera season! With international stars, an American premiere, and impeccable performances, you'll see what makes HGO an important voice on the world's musical stage. And you can see it all for as little as $15 a ticket!
Mieczyslaw Weinberg's The Passenger
Sung in English
For a copy of the libretto, please click here.
January 18, 2014 - 7:30 p.m. | January 22, 2014 - 7:30 p.m. | January
25, 2014 - 7:30 p.m.
January 31, 2014 - 7:30 p.m. | February 2, 2014 - 2:00 p.m.
Memory can comfort, torment-even terrify-but it is always with us. As Faulkner wrote, "The past isn't dead. It isn't even past."
The horrors of the Second World War, still raw today, were fresh in 1959 when Auschwitz survivor Zofia Posmysz wrote a play titled The Passenger from Cabin 45 for Polish radio. The play became the basis of the opera by Mieczyslaw Weinberg in 1967.
En route to a new post with her husband, a German diplomat, Lisa is unnerved by the sight of a woman-another passenger-who eerily resembles Martha, one of the inmates Lisa tormented when she was an SS overseer at Auschwitz.
The action of the drama takes us from the stylish gentility of a luxury liner's deck to the squalor of a death camp where cruelty, despair, and unspeakable courage are evident in equal measure. This American premiere will be one of the most important musical events of the year.
"A shattering coup. It is at times like this that opera's synthesis of music and drama works its most powerful spell." - The Sunday Times (London)
"Rarely has such a unity of emotion been experienced in an opera house." - Frankfurter Allgemeine (Frankfurt am Main, Germany)
The 2014 American Premiere of THE PASSENGER by Mieczyslaw Weinberg.
Liese - Michelle Breedt
Walter - Joseph Kaiser
Marta - Melody Moore
Tadeusz - Morgan Smith
Katya - Kelly Kaduce
Bronka - Kathryn Day
Hannah - Agnieszka Rehlis
Ivette - Uliana Alexyuk
Krystyna - Natalya Romaniw
Vlasta - Carolyn Sproule
Old Woman - Victoria Livengood
First SS Officer - Robert Pomakov
Second SS Officer - Peixin Chen
Third SS Officer - Kevin Ray
Steward/Elderly Passenger - James Maddalena
Senior Overseer/Capo - Cheryl Parrish
Conductor - Patrick Summers - Margaret Alkek Williams Chair
Director - David Pountney
Associate Director - Rob Kearley
Set Designer - Johan Engels
Costume Designer - Marie-Jeanne Lecca
Lighting Designer - Fabrice Kebour
Fight Director - Leraldo Anzaldua
Houston Grand Opera Orchestra and Chorus
Richard Bado, Chorus Master
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Amanda and Morris Gelb
Joan and Stanford Alexander/Ann and Stephen Kaufman/
Paula and Irving Pozmantier/the Warren Family
Vinson & Elkins
Anadarko Petroleum Corporation
Joyce Z. Greenberg
Albert and Ethel Herzstein Charitable Foundation
Shirley and Bruce Stein
Co-production of the Bregenzer Festspiele, Austria; Teatr Wielki Opera Narodowa, Warsaw; English National Opera, London; and Teatro Real, Madrid.
Photo by Karl Forster
Giuseppe Verdi's RIGOLETTO a production remounted by original director Harry Silverstein and conducted by Patrick Summers.
January 24, 26m, 29; February 1, 7, 9m, 2014
In Italian with English translation
A co-production of Houston Grand Opera and The Dallas Opera