chicago Premiere

Two Remain

An Opera in Two Acts
Music by Jake Heggie
Libretto by Gene Scheer

This production is sponsored by Anonymous Donors.

Supported by The MacArthur Funds for Arts and Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation & The CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events.

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Run Time

Act 1 – 50 minutes

Intermission – 15 minutes

Act 2 – 40  minutes

Performed in English with supertitles in English.

 

Cast

Krysia
Edka
Mariola
Krystyna Zywulska
Zosia
Gad Beck
Manfred
Dancer
Dancer

Covers

Krystyna
Zosia / Edka
Mariola / Krysia
Manfred
Gad Beck

Chorus

Instrumentalists

Artistic Team

Co-Stage Director
Co-Stage Director
Music Director
Production Designer
Lighting Designer
Dramaturg
Production Manager
Technical Director
Stage Manager
Shelby Krarup
Stage Manager Intern
Virginia Smith
Supertitles Coordinator

You’re invited to join members of the production for a thirty minute conversation about TWO REMAIN immediately following the performance.  Simply move to the front of the house to take part.

SYNOPSIS

ACT 1

Setting 

1988 – the comfortable Düsseldorf apartment of the aging, Jewish Holocaust survivor Krystyna Żywulska.

Synopsis 

As Zywulska struggles to dictate memories into a tape recorder for an unseen researcher, she is both urged forward, and haunted, by her younger self, nicknamed “Krysia,” and by the distantly-remembered young women Krysia/Krystyna knew during her internment as a political prisoner at Birkenau/Auschwitz. To protect herself and others while working in the Polish resistance, Zywulska has abandoned her Jewish birth name, Sonia Landau, taking a Christian-sounding pseudonym, with a surname derived from the Polish word “życia,” or life (as in ”pełna życia,” “full of life”). She is arrested by the German Gestapo, held briefly in Nazi detention center Pawiak Prison, and then sent to Birkenau-Auschwitz as a political prisoner. Her (supposedly Christian, political prisoner) status gives her some privileges over those arrested as Jews while also putting her in the impossible position of surviving while others—including her childhood friend Mariola—are killed, or left to die of typhus while prison bands play waltzes for their Nazi captors. At unimaginable danger to herself, however, Krystyna uplifts her fellow prisoners by writing poetry and songs, some expressing nostalgia for the innocent lives stolen by war (“Soldiers,” “The Sun and the Skylark”), others a rousing call to hope (“March of Freedom”), and still others satirical (“Miss Ziutka”). Such writing was strictly forbidden at Auschwitz, of course, but almost as necessary as water; thus, when Edka is caught with a contraband handwritten sheaf of music, she invokes the name of an already-murdered political prisoner, Łucia Hajewicz, rather than expose Zywulska to punishment. Later, Zywulska will manage to smuggle a simple, but forbidden, cup of hot water to her friend Zosia as she dies of typhus in the Auschwitz infirmary. Although, as Krystyna sings, “a survivor is not a hero,” her survival long beyond the liberation of Auschwitz, to a comfortable old age in a Dusseldorf apartment, allows her memories to filter back, wordless and painful at first, but ultimately triumphant.

 

ACT 2

Setting

1998 – the Berlin home of Gad Beck.

Synopsis 

In Act II, 78-year-old Gad Beck— based on a historical German gay man, half-Jewish under Nazi classifications, whose “Aryan” appearance, courage, and creativity allowed him to serve as a sort of one-man Underground Railroad for gay Berliners, while mostly avoiding imprisonment himself—is, similarly, visited by the ghost of Manfred Lewin, the 19-year-old man he once loved, and whose keepsake book of poetry Gad has continued to treasure for over 50 years. Lewin’s appearance in Gad’s Berlin apartment brings memories of the “topsy-turvy, joyful,” Weimar-era years between the two World Wars, when—despite technical illegality under “Paragraph 175,” Germany’s 1871 anti-sodomy statute not repealed until 1994—homosexuality was not merely tolerated but openly celebrated on “gay“ nights at Berlin’s Schwanenberg dance hall. More sadly, Lewin reminds Gad of the Nazi tightening of homophobic restrictions, leading to the arrests of some 100,000 gay men and women throughout the Nazi era, some merely for “a look or a touch”; and recounts the unfathomable torture of Jews and Christians, gay and non-gay, in prisons and concentration camps throughout Europe. Painfully, Gad remembers his attempt to free Manfred from Berlin’s GrosseStrasse detention center, which failed when Manfred could not abandon his birth family. Still, through quotations from his own poetry, Manfred succeeds in also reminding Beck of the love that would strengthen Beck against homophobia and hatred for the rest of his life, allowing him always to remember the sweetness of his first, lost love.

ABOUT THE COMPOSER AND LIBRETTIST

Jake Heggie | Composer

Jake Heggie is a prolific American composer, with opera credits including Dead Man Walking (libretto by Terrence McNally), Moby-Dick (libretto by Gene Scheer), and Three Decembers (Scheer), among others, as well nearly 300 art songs, concerti, chamber music, choral and orchestral works. Pentatone recently released a new all-Heggie recording titled Unexpected Shadows, featuring mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton and cellist Matt Haimovitz. Heggie is currently at work with Gene Scheer and Jawole Zollar on a new opera for the Houston Grand Opera titled Intelligence. In 2019, Dead Man Walking received its 70th international production at the Israeli Opera in Tel Aviv, the first American opera to be produced by that company. A Guggenheim Fellow, Heggie has served as a mentor for Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative and has given commencement addresses at the Eastman School of Music and Northwestern’s Bienen School of Music. Jake Heggie lives in San Francisco with his husband, Curt Branom.  Website: jakeheggie.com

 

Gene Scheer | Librettist

Librettist Gene Scheer’s work is noted for its scope and versatility. With Jake Heggie, he has collaborated on many projects, including the critically acclaimed 2010 Dallas Opera world premiere, Moby-Dick; Three Decembers (Houston Grand Opera), which starred Frederica von Stade; and the lyric drama To Hell and Back (Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra), which featured Patti LuPone. Other collaborations include the lyrics for Wynton Marsalis’s It Never Goes Away, featured in Mr. Marsalis’s work Congo Square.  In 2015, Mr. Scheer collaborated with Joby Talbot on the opera Everest, based on the doomed 1996 Everest expedition. Also a composer in his own right, Mr. Scheer has written a number of songs.  The distinguished documentary filmmaker, Ken Burns, prominently featured Mr. Scheer’s song “American Anthem” (as sung by Norah Jones) in his Emmy Award-winning World War II documentary for PBS entitled The War.

NOTES FROM THE DIRECTING TEAM

One of the things I appreciate most about Two Remain is the way it plainly depicts what it means to survive – including the bitter, imperfect, and fragmented bits. The stories of Krystyna and Gad are non-linear, full of poetry, love, anger, and grief in a way that completely honors both the general nature of traumatic memory and the specific trauma of these two human beings. As Derek and I began to work on this piece together, we noticed that, although these stories are very different, their common themes echo one another and put the experiences of two isolated individuals in conversation in a way that encourages a deep sense of empathy.

Spring of 2022 is a very strange, frightening, and isolating moment to be living in. As we all move through the world, living out our own stories of trauma, poetry, love, anger, and grief, it is good to be reminded how powerful it can be to share our stories and forge connections. The women of Act One insist that “letters are the only soldiers we need” – that the act of communicating our lived experiences is fundamentally an act of resistance and empathy, and that telling the whole story (even the most unlovable parts) is ultimately what brings us out of darkness, and into a world where we understand one another just that little bit better.

– Sophie Sinsheimer

 

The title of this show resonates so differently now than it did when we first started rehearsing two years ago. On the (almost) other side of a pandemic and on the brink of what feels like another world war, “to remain” sounds like “to survive”. To be what is left. It’s not thriving, it’s just getting by. And with getting by, what do we bring with us into each new day? Our memories, our guilt, our regrets. Sophia and I realized quite early that this show is not Krystyna and Gad’s stories, but rather how they remember, deny, honor and ultimately embrace the stories of Mariola and Manfred, respectively. In Act Two, Gad speaks aloud (perhaps for the first time) his kaleidoscope of feelings for Manfred. Not just his love, but also his anger. He releases the bitter with the sweet, and because of that, finds some semblance of peace. And if not lasting peace, at least a way to get through the night.

– Derek Van Barham

DRAMATURG’S NOTE

Jake Heggie and Gene Sheer’s Two Remain is a two-act opera that beautifully engages with the meaning and effects of the Holocaust for two individuals—characters based upon real-life World War II survivors—who each paid heavy emotional prices for their survival, and whose struggle to reconcile themselves to painful memories show us that survival of the human spirit is possible, even in the presence of unremitting evil. It’s our privilege and pleasure to bring this new work to Chicago, even if, sadly, it seems all too timely in March of 2022.

Looking back, one thing I could never understand about the Holocaust of World War II is why Hitler’s victims—whether Jewish or (like the majority of homosexual men imprisoned, tortured, even murdered at Nazi hands) Gentile—didn’t see what was ahead for their communities, and flee for their lives. To have witnessed the burning of the Reichstag in early 1933; Hitler’s seizure of power; the public burning of the library of early sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld; the destruction of Jewish businesses and synagogues throughout Europe on Kristallnacht—not to mention the inexorable rounding up of European Jews into disease-ridden, isolated ghettoes in Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Italy—how could anyone not have known that transports and death camps would soon follow?

Of course, aside from its strong whiff of victim-blaming, to state even that much discloses the flaw in the argument: as current events in Ukraine, Sudan, Afghanistan, even here at home all indicate, none of us is prescient. We deny, we fight, we panic, we hope…yes, we cling to hope as though it is the very garment that covers us as we are expelled from Eden. (And…maybe it is.)

It’s also easy to forget how much recent technological advances have changed us, as Western human beings – how, say, seeing the fall of first one, then the other World Trade Center buildings on our television screens shook Americans’ collective desire to believe that the first was just an accident, even before we knew about two other jetliners that had been simultaneously weaponized by Saudi-born Islamist conspirators; how a nine minute and 29 second bystander video made it possible to watch (over and over!) as Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin suffocated George Floyd on a Minneapolis city street in broad daylight; how subsequent civilian, dashcam and bodycam footage showing both police and civilian attacks on unarmed citizens across the United States finally shook the comfortable fantasies of White Americans that their Black, brown and Indigenous neighbors enjoyed the same rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” that they do; how both social and traditional media continue to bring government and private sector bad acts to light in spite of official suppression or outright censorship, especially in the democratic Western world, but in societies controlled by dictatorships as well.

Unfortunately, in part for technological reasons, it remains possible, in 2022, for some to deny that the Holocaust actually happened a mere 75 years—two generations—ago. Contemporaneous photographic, sound and video evidence is scarce; concentration camp prisoners didn’t beam graphic reports of camp conditions to newspapers, radios or TV stations.  By now, also, living survivors and witnesses are few, many still preferring not to voice memories of their harsh experiences. Sadly, also, generational trauma of European Jews, who by 1933 had only recently escaped pogroms in the Pale of Settlement of Eastern Europe, may have led to denial of any suspicions, let alone reports, either of worse conditions outside the Ghetto or of better conditions elsewhere. (Israel, we remember, was then still a dream, not entirely believable even as it beckoned Zionist youth and adults to hope for a permanent homeland for all Jews in Mandate Palestine.) And once the horrors were ended, the difficulty trauma survivors have in integrating, or even recalling, memories of abuse – part of the condition we now call “post-traumatic stress disorder,” or PTSD—along with the intervening deaths of parents and other family members to whom stories would normally first have been told, all conspired to keep Holocaust stories, if told at all, shared quietly and mostly within survivor families.

Krystyna (Act I) and Gad (Act II) were, moreover, both resisters against the atrocities happening around them – the one becoming a political prisoner at Auschwitz, the other risking his life to protect Nazi targets in Berlin. Every moment of torture, every death—of friends, family, even of strangers—must have felt, to them, like personal failure, every glimpse of joy an undeserved self-indulgence. Indeed, once the war ended, the historical Zywulska for years declined discussion of her Auschwitz-era songwriting, fearing that it would be misunderstood by those who had not lived the experience of her fellow prisoners and herself.

The stories in Two Remain resonate through the years and miles to remind us of the eternal importance of love, of trust, and of hope. Courageous to the end, these survivors confront the difficulty, even impossibility, of revisiting stories of trauma, even years after the trauma is past. Through them, may we be enveloped in compassion, not only for those who died at Nazi hands, but for those others who loved, but were unable to save, them; indeed, for all who suffer under tyranny, whether nearby or far away.

– Patricia McMillen, Dramaturg

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

ACT 1

Anna Caldwell | Krysia

Praised for her “impassioned” and “shining” portrayal of Emily in the Ohio debut of Ned Rorem’s Operatic Adaptation of Our Town, Anna is no stranger to 20th-century opera and is passionate about performing contemporary works by living composers. She is delighted to make her Chicago Fringe Opera debut in the role of Krysia and to work with a dynamic ensemble cast. Anna is known in Chicago for her work in Operetta and Musical Theater, and as a member of the classical crossover trio The Peppermint Patties. www.thepeppermintpatties.com

Some favorite roles include Amalia in She Loves Me (Janus Concert Series) Cinderella in Into the Woods (Edgebrook Concert Series) Adele in Die Fledermaus (DePaul Opera Theater) Giulietta in I Capuleti e i Montecchi (Musica nelle Marche) Lily in The Secret Garden (The Genesis Theater Project & Ohio Valley Summer Theater) Eurydice in Orphée aux enfers (BW Opera Theater) and Marion in The Music Man (Ohio Valley Summer Theater). Anna earned an M.M in Vocal Performance from DePaul University and has a successful digital marketing career as a Content Manager.

 

Lauren Ingebrigtsen | Edka

Lauren Ingebrigtsen is thrilled to be stepping into her first ever professional opera role with Chicago Fringe. She will graduate in May of this year from Oklahoma City University with her Master’s degree in Opera performance. In May of 2019 she received her Bachelor’s in Vocal Performance from Millikin University. She also has a thriving voice studio of young students whom she simply adores! Earlier this year, she was Mrs. Peachum in OCU’s Threepenny Opera, and last year she was The Secretary in Menotti’s The Consul at OCU. Over the summer, she performed the role of Florence Pike in Albert Herring with Chicago Summer Opera. She has also been seen as Alma March in Little Women (OCU), Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Hawaii Performing Arts Festival), Baba/Madame Flora in The Medium (Millikin University), and Sœur Mathilde in Dialogues of the Carmelites (La Musica Lirica.) You can find her at ingebrigtsenmezzo.com or on Instagram at @ingebrigtsen.mezzo.

 

Alex Salas | Mariola

Alex Salas is a Chicago based soprano with a focus on new works. Alex was most recently seen in Chicago Fringe Opera’s City of Works, featured in Lincoln Square with music composed by Elizabeth Rudolph and text by Laura Stratford. Previous engagements with Chicago Fringe Opera include Love Wounds showcasing music composed by Christopher Cerrone in 2019, where Chicago Classical Review described Alex’s voice as “pure and lovely in tone.” Alex is a founding member of Forte Chicago, an operatic improv ensemble, last seen at the 2019 Chicago International Puppet Festival, performing Distant Flight of Birds, cabarets, and fully devised shows. Since Forte’s inception in 2015, Alex has been seen devising, directing, and performing in every show. Alex holds a BA in Music Education from Florida Atlantic University, and an MM in Voice Performance from Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, where operatic credits include Contessa di Folleville in Rossini’s Il Viaggio a Reims, Novice in Puccini’s Suor Angelica, and Daughter in Torke’s Strawberry Fields. Alex is a soprano section leader at Church of the Holy Comforter in Kenilworth, IL.

 

Clarissa Parrish Short | Krystyna Żywulska

Clarissa Parrish Short is returning to the operatic world after transitioning from mezzo-soprano to soprano. She has sung with opera companies and choruses throughout the United States and Germany, including the Mittelsächsisches Theater, Theater Plauen-Zwickau, Portland Opera, Florentine Opera, Martina Arroyo’s Prelude to Performance, the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, the Basilica of St. Josaphat, St. John Cantius, and St. Mary’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. A native of Sterling, Virginia, Clarissa is an alumnus of the Manhattan School of Music and James Madison University. She currently lives in Chicago, Illinois with her husband tenor Aaron Short. She works at Business Development Operations Manager at Grenzebach Glier and Associates and sings with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Chorus.

 

Bridget Skaggs | Zosia

Mezzo-soprano Bridget Skaggs has swiftly gained the attention of Chicago audiences as “a compelling force” with an “agile, expressive voice” (Chicago Classical Review) equally at home in opera, art song, and oratorio. Critics have noted the way she “lights up the scene” (Chicago Reader) in performances with Chicago Fringe Opera, where she debuted the role of Austin in the world-premiere production of Rossa Crean’s The Great God Pan in 2018, and sang Christopher Cerrone’s Naomi Songs with “warm and plaintive mezzo” (Chicago Classical Review) as part of Love Wounds, a multi-disciplinary exploration of the composer’s works, in 2019. Bridget is increasingly recognized for her excellence in the musical and movement styles of Baroque repertoire, having performed Giunone in Cavalli’s La Didone with Haymarket Summer Opera Program in 2018, Bradamante in Handel’s Alcina with Chicago Vocal Arts Consortium in 2019, and performed numerous Bach cantatas as a Festival Artist at the Baroque on Beaver Island Festival (MI) in summers 2014 and 2015. Nationally, Bridget has appeared as the Fox in Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen with Opera Steamboat, and Charlotte in Sondheim’s A Little Night Music with Pittsburgh Festival Opera, where she served as Young Artist. Internationally, she has toured Bruckner’s Te Deum as alto soloist with Blue Lake International Symphony. Her vast concert and oratorio repertoire includes the Ravel’s Shéhérezade, Duruflé’s Requiem, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Handel’s Messiah, and Bach’s Magnificat. A passionate advocate for art song, Skaggs is a founding member of vocal chamber quartet Fourth Coast Ensemble, and was recently named Vocal Arts Associate for Chicago Fringe Opera. She has twice been awarded the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago’s vocal chamber fellowship. This season she records music by composer Lori Laitman, and has recorded the American premiere of Paul Abraham’s 1932 jazz operetta Ball at the Savoy for future release. A native of Southlake, Texas, Bridget received her education at Oklahoma City University’s Wanda L. Bass School of Music, and resides in Chicago.

 

Dana CampbellKrystyna Cover

Soprano Dana Campbell has been a guest of Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, Virtuosi di Toronto, Toronto Classical Singers and Talisker Players, and Kenosha Symphony Orchestra. With Toronto Operetta Theatre, she sang the title role in the Canadian première of the zarzuela Cecilia Valdes. For Lyric Opera of Chicago, Ms. Campbell appeared in their celebrated productions of Porgy and Bess and understudied the role of Addie Parker in Charlie Parker’s Yardbird. With Millennium Chamber Players, she undertook Female Chorus in The Rape of Lucretia, and Mimì in La Bohème. Appearing frequently with South Shore Opera Company of Chicago, highlights include Rachel Ross in Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom, and Claire in the critically-acclaimed Troubled Island. Ms. Campbell is pleased to be part of Chicago Fringe Opera’s Two Remain and looks forward to spring 2022 performances with Southwest Suburban Symphony Orchestra and Florentine Opera.

 

Elizabeth Shuman | Mariola/Krysia Cover

Soprano Elizabeth Shuman is excited to be performing for live audiences after pandemic performances for her backyard chickens, Hera, Hesita and Persephone, who enjoy her singing, but whose pecking at the studio door tends to be off beat. Her favorite recent performance for human audiences was the role of her doppelganger, Patrick Leahy, in The Gonzales Cantata. Upcoming performances include Fourth Coast Ensemble’s Chicago songSLAM on April 3 at Nicholas Hall in Evanston, where Elizabeth will perform a world premiere work written for her by composer, poet, and pianist Mona Williams Coalter. Elizabeth performs regularly with Chicago Choral Artists, and as an avid explorer of early music, she has performed in early music festivals in Boston and Berkely. She has also enjoyed solo performances at Friends of the Windows recital series, the Schubertiade festival, Liederstube, and Early Music at the Barn. Soli Deo Gloria.

 

Evita Cervoni | Zosia/Edka Cover

Mezzo-soprano Evita Cervoni, holds a Master of Music in Voice Performance and has performed in a variety of major cities including Toronto, Rome, and Chicago. Evita has been described as “possessing [a] strong and beautiful voice,” and has performed the roles of Bride/Darkling Ma Dowling/Patience and Sarah, Mamma Lucia/Cavalleria Rusticana, Arnalta/L’incoronazione di Poppea, Eva/Comedy on the Bridge, Third Spirit/Die Zauberflöte, Kate/Madame Butterfly, and Ruth/The Pirates of Penzance. Evita currently studies with Judith Haddon, and is thrilled to be making her Chicago Fringe Opera debut as a cover for Zosia and Edka in Two Remain.

 

ACT 2

Peter Vamvakas | Gad Beck

Peter’s performance credits include Mansfield Park, Book of Will, Inherit the Wind, Sense and Sensibility, Shining Lives (Northlight Theatre); Amahl and the Night Visitors, Vanessa, Carmen, Man of La Mancha, Persuasion (UK/NYC tours) (Chamber Opera Chicago); Jesus Christ Superstar, Phantom, Footloose, Christmas Schooner, Petrified Forest (Theatre at the Center); Titanic, the chamber musical (Jeff nomination musical/ensemble-Griffin Theatre); Passion (Jeff award winning musical-Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre); Macbeth, Hamlet (Shakespeare on the Green); To Kill a Mockingbird (Apple Tree Theatre); South Pacific, 110 in the Shade, The Mikado (Light Opera Works). Directing credits include Fancy Nancy the Musical, How I Became a Pirate, Busytown the Musical and Pinkalicious the Musical (Northbrook Musical Theatre for Young Audiences); The Nutcracker (Theatre at the Center). Television credits include The Chi, Proven Innocent and Chicago PD.

 

Jonathan Wilson | Manfred

Jonathan Wilson is grateful to perform again with Chicago Fringe Opera in this meaningful production of Two Remain. Previously, Jonathan performed with CFO in the title role of their 2019 production of Woyzeck (Waits, Brennan) and as Hannah Before in their 2017 production of As One (Kaminsky, Campbell, Reed). Praised by the Chicago Classical Review for his “resounding and luxurious” voice, Jonathan is an enthusiast of contemporary opera with other recent roles including Robert Dziekański in I will fly like a bird (Plant, Wainwright), The Poet in When Adonis Calls (Borzoni, de los Santos, Dillard), and John Brooke in Little Women (Adamo). Later in 2022, Jonathan looks forward to performing in several productions with Lyric Opera Chorus, Grant Park Chorus, and Chicago Symphony Chorus. Outside of performing, Jonathan is passionate about math and science and their creative overlap with music and the arts to explore the intricacy, complexity, and beauty of the world. He holds degrees in physics, mathematics, and electromagnetics, and has worked as an RF electrical engineer and a lecturer of physics, astronomy, and Earth science.

 

Roy Samra | Dancer

Roy Samra – Chicago Fringe Opera debut! Roy is humbled to be joining CFO for this vital production. Previous credits in Chicago include work with Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre, Kokandy Productions, Refuge Theatre Project, Lifeline Theatre, Circle Theatre, Underscore Theatre (CMT Award for Best Supporting Performer), and Pride Films & Plays. Much love and light to this dynamic team of creatives, and to all of you for supporting live story-telling and entertainment. Proud Oklahoma City University graduate.

 

Connor Giles | Dancer

Chicago credits include Mamma Mia (Drury Lane Oakbrook & Music Theater Works), Billy Elliot (Music Theater Works), Head Over Heels (Kokandy Productions), Call Me Madam (Porchlight Music Theatre), and Bare (Refuge Theatre Project). Connor has performed regionally in Hello Dolly, West Side Story, Big Fish, Anything Goes (Encore Musical Theater Company) and You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown (Memories Dinner Theater). Connor holds a BFA in Musical Theater from Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts.

 

Stephen Hobe | Manfred Cover

Switch-hitting in musical theatre and opera, Baritone Stephen Hobe has flourished in classical and crossover repertoire in hometown Chicago. Mr. Hobe is “a generous performer,” lauded for his charismatic and often quirky performances of particularly Italian and Contemporary American repertoire. Mr. Hobe has most recently performed with Madison Opera, St. Petersburg Opera, Florentine Opera, Kenosha Opera Festival, Third Eye Theatre Ensemble, and Music Theatre Works. Mr. Hobe is elated to be finishing up his first season as a part of the Lyric Opera of Chicago Supplementary Chorus. Mr. Hobe studied paleontology and musical theatre at Carthage College (BA, 2015), as well as voice at Roosevelt University (MM, 2018). Off stage, Mr. Hobe works as a paleontologist and senior coordinator of education at the Adler Planetarium. www.stephenhobe.com

 

Shane Roberie | Gad Beck Cover

Previous credits include: SUNSET BOULEVARD (Porchlight Music Theatre), HEAD OVER HEELS (Kokandy Productions), POSEIDON! (Hell in a Handbag), EVIL DEAD, NIGHTMARE & NIGHTCAPS (Black Button Eyes) JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT (Citadel Theatre), DISASTER! (Chicago Theatre Workshop), INTO THE WOODS (Metropolis PAC)

ABOUT THE CREATIVE TEAM

Sophia Sinsheimer | Co-Stage Director 

Sophia Sinsheimer (she/her) is the casting director for Underscore Theatre, Chicago’s home for new musicals. Recent directing credits: Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins (Assistant Director, Strawdog Theatre), Adventurers! (Chicago Musical Theatre Festival), Peter and the Starcatcher (Assistant Director, Big Noise Theatre), Tiny Storefront Concert Series (Underscore Theatre). Sophia received her B.A. from Northwestern University. When she is not directing, Sophia can be found running her small marketing business and creating content on TikTok. www.sophiasinsheimer.com

 

Derek Van Barham | Co-Stage Director 

Derek Van Barham (he/him/his) is the Producing Artistic Director of Kokandy Productions, and a member of the Red Tape Theatre ensemble. He previously served as Associate Artistic Director of Pride Films & Plays and Artistic Director of The Ruckus. Recent directing credits: When Adonis Calls (Thompson Street Opera), Head Over Heels (Kokandy), The View Upstairs (Circle), Poseidon (Hell in a Handbag) and Taylor Mac’s A Walk Across America for Mother Earth (CCPA/Roosevelt). Recent choreo credits: Ghost Quartet, Evil Dead the Musical (Jeff nomination), Shockheaded Peter (Black Button Eyes). He was named one of Windy City Times 30 Under 30, recognizing individuals from Chicago’s LGBTQ community. MFA: Chicago College of Performing Arts (CCPA) at Roosevelt University. BFA: University of Mississippi. www.derekvanbarham.com

 

Catherine O’Shaughnessy | Music Director

Catherine O’Shaughnessy is a rising orchestral and opera conductor in the United States and abroad. Her performances have earned rave reviews from the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Classical Review (“great skill, alertness and sensitivity”), and Vocal Arts Chicago (“resourcefulness…scrappiness and…fierce concentration”). Avidly committed to Chicago’s dynamic musical scene, she is currently the music director of Chicago Fringe Opera, and Principal Conductor of the 5th Wave Collective. In 2020, she proudly helped produce Fringe’s contribution to the Decameron Opera Coalition’s Tales From a Safe Distance—winner of the “Best Collaboration” award from 360° of Opera—which makes innovative use of technology to reimagine this art for challenging new circumstances.

A semi-finalist in the 2016 Spazio Musica International Conducting Competition, Catherine made her New York debut conducting Antonio Salieri’s La Cifra with the dell’Arte Opera Ensemble. She has also music directed Pyramus and Thisbe in Freiberg (Mittelsächsisches Theater) and conducted Don Giovanni and La Traviata in Orvieto (Teatro Mancinelli). In 2013 she conducted the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra at a sold-out performance in Tchaikovsky Hall, and in 2017 she guest-conducted the Piccadilly Symphony Orchestra (Manchester, UK). Catherine holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in orchestral and opera conducting from Arizona State University, where she was a student of William Reber and Timothy Russell.

 

Brad Caleb Lee | Production Designer

Brad Caleb Lee is a UK based visual dramaturge. With CFO he designed Lucrezia, The Long Christmas Dinner, Woyzeck, Corsair and co-conceived A City of Works. Other collaborators include East Riding Theatre, Opera’r Ddraig, Summer Theatre of New Cannon, Richard Burton Theatre Company, Elan Frontoio, Welsh National Opera, Opera Sonic, Music Theatre Wales, Prague Shakespeare Company, Theatre Tuscaloosa, Hell in a Handbag, and Filament Theatre.

Brad curated and designed YOUR VOICE!, an immersive community-driven exhibition reopening the Wales Millennium Centre, was the Curatorial Producer of Prague Quadrennial 2019, was featured in World Stage Design 2017, and co-designed the award-winning British pavilion, MAKE/BELIEVE for PQ2015 / Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

Brad is the founding editor of Ascending and has previously edited other publications on theatre design. He holds an MA from the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama and both a BA and a BS of Commerce from The University of Alabama.

 

David Goodman-Edberg | Lighting Designer

David Goodman-Edberg (he/him) (Lighting Designer) is delighted to be working with Chicago Fringe Opera for the first time. Mostly working in the worlds of dance, theatrical, and architectural lighting design, some recent designs include Home (Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre); Hyper (Eisenhower Dance Detroit); My Name is Inanna (Red Tape Theater); Imagery Portrayed (Water Street Dance Milwaukee); The Infinite Energy of Ada Lovelace (Third Eye Ensemble); Legacy: Phoenix^5 (Joel Hall Dancers); The Pillowman (The Gift Theater); The Silence in Harrow House (Rough House); American Catracho (Cerqua Rivera Dance Theater); and TAKE (Visceral Dance), as well as work as an assistant/associate designer at various Universal Studios theme parks (in Beijing, Osaka, Hollywood, and Orlando) and Disney Shanghai. dglxdesign.com. | Black lives matter. | Freedom for all colonized lands from Hawai’i to Palestine.

 

Patricia McMillen | Dramaturg

Patricia McMillen is a retired lawyer, poet, folk musician and community activist. Prior to joining the production team of Two Remain in late 2019, her proudest accomplishments in life were negotiating the sale of 1000 acres of family-owned farmland in Ogle County, IL to The Nature Conservancy, doubling the size of Nachusa Grasslands and permitting it to become the new home of Illinois’ only bison herd; working with the Abolition in Illinois movement to advocate for Illinois’ 2011 legislative abolition of capital punishment in our state; publishing Knife Lake Anthology (Columbus, OH: Pudding House Publications 2006), a poetry chapbook based on true stories of people affected by capital punishment; and becoming an adult Bat Mitzvah in 2015, at Oak Park Temple. She thanks the entire production team and cast for making Two Remain her meaningful and joyful debut as an opera dramaturg.

 

Chungers Kim | Supertitles Coordinator

Chungers Kim has established himself as a vibrant presence in the Chicago classical music scene since he moved to the city in early 2012. As a Music Director and vocal coach, he is very active in playing for numerous rehearsals, shows, recitals, conducting and directing various choirs in the communities, and teaching vocal music and theory to potential music lovers throughout the city. He directed and conducted many beloved Broadway shows such as Beauty and the Beast, Guys and Dolls, The little shop of Horrors, Shrek the Musical, The Sound of Music.

Mr. Kim is also an active concert soloist and opera singer. He has appeared as Masetto in The Floating Opera Company’s performance of Don Giovanni at The Bohemian National Cemetery. Other roles include Don Pasquale from Don Pasquale, Leporello (cover) from Don Giovanni, the Watchman from Maskarade and Schaunard (cover) from La Bohème. On the classical concert setting, Mr. Kim sang M. Haydn’s Te Deum with VOX3 Collectives and Lakeview Orchestra, Handel’s Messiah with St. Croix Valley Orchestra, as well as J.S.Bach’s Cantata BWV131 and F.J.Hadyn’s Te Deum with UW – River Falls Concert Choir.

As a young musician, he had the privilege of being involved with the Minnesota Chorale, with whom he had the opportunity to work with highly acclaimed conductors such as Osmo Vänskä, Nicholas Kraemer, Andrew Litton, and Dr. Kathy Saltzman Romey. Currently, Mr. Kim studies with W. Stephen Smith and works at Lincoln Park Presbyterian Church as Music Director.

 

George Cederquist | Production Manager

George is the Producing Artistic Director of Chicago Fringe Opera (called “the city’s alt-opera company” by the Chicago Tribune), which produces experiential, immersive, and site-specific productions of operas composed in English. At CFO, George has directed Woyzeck, The Rosina Project, The Long Christmas Dinner, The Great God Pan (world premiere), Lucrezia, In the Penal Colony, The Turn of the Screw, Trouble in Tahiti and The Rape of Lucretia.  Camera opera filmwork includes Corsair, The Widow’s Will, and A City of Works.

In addition, George has directed opera scenes at Wolf Trap Opera and Chautauqua Opera, and new productions with the Chicago Sinfonietta, Pittsburgh Opera, the Bay View Music Festival, Chicago Folks Operetta, and Chicago Opera Vanguard. An enthusiastic mentor, George is the Producing Artistic Director of Opera and Theatre at North Park University, and has taught acting, auditioning and scene study at Northwestern University, Roosevelt University, and DePaul University.

Now in its seventh season, George hosts Opera Box Score, America’s Talk Radio Show About Opera, heard every Monday night on WNUR 89.3 FM Chicago and wherever you get your podcasts. The show tackles the week’s opera headlines and discusses them in a sports talk radio format.

A recipient of the 2015 American Prize in Directing, George’s production of Silent Night was chosen as a winner of Opera America’s 2013 Director-Designer competition. As one of ten Americans to receive the 2011-12 German Chancellor Fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, George served as a Regieassistent at the Staatstheater Darmstadt. George’s training includes the Resident Artist Stage Director program at Pittsburgh Opera, serving as the Apprentice Stage Director at the Merola Opera Program, and as the Directing Fellow at Wolf Trap Opera. He holds an MFA in Directing from Northwestern University and a BA in Theatre Studies and English from Yale University. A dual US-UK citizen, George is a proud ensemble member of Steep Theatre Company (Chicago) and the American Guild of Musical Artists.

He lives with his wife, their two children, their cat, and their four chickens, in Chicago.

SPECIAL THANKS

Barbara Milewski, Music Department, Swarthmore College

Clayton & Rachel Mobley

The Edge Theater staff

Emma -Jane Weeks

Hazel Jewkes

Helen Rodgers

The Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center

Jewish Women’s Archive/USHMM

Mike Hill

North Park University

Olivia Leone

Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama

Second Unitarian Church of Chicago

POSTCRIPT & GLOSSARY

Postscript

After the war ended, the real-life Zywulska married her childhood friend (and fellow Communist) Leon Andrjzewski, joined the Polish Communist Party and published her first memoir Przezylam Oswiecim (I Survived Auschwitz, tr. by Krystyna Czenkalska, tCHu Publishing House, Warsaw 1946). She worked in Lodz and in Warsaw as a journalist, assisting German Nazi-hunter Thomas Harlan in the successful capture and prosecution of several former Nazis in Germany in the 1960’s; and raised two sons, whom she followed to Dusseldorf in 1970, as they fled the “anti-Zionist” (that is, anti-semitic) campaign of the then-ruling Polish Workers’ Party. In 1963, Zywulska published a second memoir, Pusta Woda (Empty Water, tr. by Lech Czerski and Sheila Callahan, tCHu Publishing House, Warsaw 1946, available as Kindle Edition), in which she reasserted, for the first time, her Jewish roots, kept hidden until then. Expelled from the Polish Writers’ Union in 1970, censored in Poland, Zywulska took up painting. She died in 1992 and is buried in Dusseldorf, under the name Zofia Zywulska Andrzejewski.

Gad Beck emigrated to Palestine in 1947, spending 32 years there helping to establish the Zionist dream and resettle European Jews in new lives there. His autobiography, An Underground Life: The Memoirs of a Gay Jew in Nazi Berlin (University of Wisconsin Press, 2001), and research available at www.ushmm.org, the website of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (to which Beck donated Manfred Lewin’s handmade book of memoir, drawings and poetry, gifted to Beck in 1940 and held by him all those years), fill in many details. Beck enjoyed two long domestic partnerships, first with his fellow Chug Chaluzi (“Circle of Pioneers,” a Zionist German resistance unit) member Zvi Avrahamson, with whom he was liberated by the Soviet Army from detention in 1945; and later with Czech-born Israeli Julius Laufer, with whom Gad returned to Berlin in 1979 to support the post-war German Jewish and homosexual communities. Beck died in Berlin of kidney failure in 2012, at the age of 88.

 

Glossary

Der Singende Wald (Ger.)– the “singing forest” – at Buchenwald concentration camp, a wooded area where torture by “tree-hanging” took place. This form of torture, also known as “corda” or “strappado,” has reportedly been used throughout history, including by Christians during the Inquisition; by the North Vietnamese against the late American Senator (and POW) John McCain; against medical workers in Libya in 2007; and by the American CIA at Abu Ghraib.

Effektenkammer (Ger.)– literally “possessions-room,” a work station in Nazi work camps in which confiscated possessions of incoming political prisoners were sorted and catalogued. Prisoners (mostly women) inventoried the possessions of each prisoner, identified by name and the number tattooed on the prisoner’s wrist, using typewriters to list names, numbers and items. After “disinfection”/delousing of prisoners and shaving of their heads, their street clothing was exchanged for striped cotton pajamas and uncomfortable wooden clogs to be worn for the duration of their stay.

Gestapo – The Geheime Staatspolizei (Secret State Police), abbreviated Gestapo, was the official secret police of Nazi Germany and German-occupied Europe. The force was created by Hermann Göring in 1933 by combining the various security police agencies of Prussia into one organisation.

Ghetto (It., “foundry”) – originally (from the 16th century on), an outer neighborhood in which Jews doing business in Venice were permitted to live, although prohibited from living in Venice proper. In contemporary usage, any neighborhood to which a class, race or religious group is (more or less unwillingly) consigned. During World War II, the Nazi-imposed Warsaw (Poland) Ghetto was particularly notorious.

Kapo (Ger.)– A kapo or prisoner functionary was a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp who was assigned by the SS guards to supervise forced labor or carry out administrative tasks. At Auschwitz, many kapos were Slovenian Jews, who were among the first to be interned there; others were political prisoners or petty criminals (designated with black triangles).

Mischling (Ger.)– in Nazi ideology, a person with from one to three Jewish grandparents, as opposed to Aryan [zero Jewish grandparents] or Volljuden [four Jewish grandparents].

Obersturmbannfuhrer (Ger.)– Lieutenant Colonel under Hitler.

 

Paragraph 175: a provision of the German Criminal Code in effect from 1871-1994, making homosexual relations between men a crime. The existence of this law prompted an early homosexual rights movement in Germany. Paragraph 175 was strengthened under the Nazis by increasing the maximum penalty from six months’ to five years’ imprisonment and by removing the requirement of actual physical contact between accused men. Thus – “a look or a touch.”

Roll Call – the Nazi daily assembly of concentration camp prisoners in groups of five. Regardless of weather, illness, or hunger, prisoners were forced to stand for long periods of time to be counted (and sometimes to watch the torture or execution of others). Those who could not stand, or who attempted escape, would be shot to death.

Shiksa (Yiddish) – derogatory term for a non-Jewish woman (generally used to discourage Jewish men from dating non-Jewish women); loosely translated as “country girl”

Zionist/Zionism (from Hebrewצִיּוֹנוּת , Tsiyyonut, the hill in East Jerusalem where the ancient City of David is thought to have been built) is the nationalist movement of the Jewish people that emerged in the late 19th century in Central and Eastern Europe as a national revival movement. Following publication of Judenstaat (The Jewish State) by Theodor Herzl in 1896, Jewish leaders organized around the goal of creating a new homeland in Palestine, then controlled by the Ottoman Empire, and later “mandated” by the League of Nations to the control of Great Britain, which had initially pledged support for a Jewish national homeland in Palestine under its Balfour Declaration (1917).

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Thank You

Chicago Fringe Opera is immensely grateful for our donors who support our mission of presenting innovative vocal works with an emphasis in the new and contemporary styles, engaging with the Chicago community through intimate and immersive performance experiences, and fostering and empowering local artists.

Donors

Year to date as of: March 22, 2022

Jennifer Alkem

Isabella Andries

John Bierbusse

Dana Brown

John Cederquist

Darwin Corrin

Robert P Delonis

Kathy Dunn

Kent Dymak

Maria Fletcher

Paul Freehling

Sarah Geocaris

Myron Levine

Joan Mazzanelli

Ashley McKinstry

Patricia McMillen

Carla & William O’Shaughnessy

Robert Daniel Reid

Jeffrey Roth

Elizabeth Rudolph

Laura Smalley

Tracey Smalley

Julie Stauffer

Carol Stukey

Joshua Taylor

Mark & Joan Walker

Isabella Weber

Jonathan Wilson

Dean Yannias

Jonathan Zeng

Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP 

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Company & Board

Board

President
Matthew Godfrey
Board Member
Sarah Geocaris
Board Member
Joshua Taylor
Board Member
Lara Yang

Company Members

Executive Director
Catherine O'Shaughnessy
Producing Artistic Director
George Cederquist
Casting Coordinator
Dana Campbell
Social Media Manager
Daina Fischer
PR & Audience Relations Director
Giovanna Jacques
Artistic Producer
Khary Laurent
Marketing, Brand & Web Director
Jenny Schuler
Vocal Arts Associate
Bridget Skaggs
Community Engagement Coordinator
Jonathan Zeng