Saturday, August 20, 2011

Leigh Melrose in Holocaust Opera

Leigh Melrose
British barihunk Leigh Melrose has never received the attention that he deserves on this site. We featured a video of him singing a selection from Britten's "Billy Budd" at the end of a feature on Alexander Tsymbalyuk. He certainly can't be ignored anymore, as Melrose has landed a key role at English National Opera in Mieczysław Weinberg’s 1968 opera The Passenger. 

The opera was banned in the Soviet Union and was first premiered last year at the Bregenz Festival. Weinberg, a Soviet composer of Jewish-Polish heritage who died in 1996, never saw a performance of this lost masterpiece in his lifetime. 

The opera revolves around an encounter between two women – one a former Auschwitz guard and the other a former prisoner. Melrose plays Tadeusz, a camp inmate and violinist who defies the Commandant byordered by performing some meloncholy music by Bach rather than a frolicking waltz. Needless to say, things don't end well for Tadeusz.

We continue to find the performances at ENO as some of the most innovative and interesting in all of opera right now. We loved Nic Muhly's "Two Boys" and look forward to seeing The Passenger. The opera runs from September 19-October 25. Additional cast and performance information is available HERE. If you're looking for more traditional operatic fare, ENO will be performing the highly acclaimed Jonathan Miller production of Donizetti's "The Elixir of Love" at the same time.

You can read an entire feature on Leigh Melrose and The Passenger in the Islington Tribune by clicking HERE

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