An encounter between two women — one a former Auschwitz guard, the other a former inmate of the female barracks — aboard an ocean liner plunges them both back into the horrors of the Holocaust, pitting perpetrator against victim in a moral battle between guilt and denial, retribution and absolution. Based on the semi-autobiographical novel Pasazerkaby by Auschwitz survivor Zofia Posmysz, exiled Polish-Jewish composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s opera is an astonishing account of the horrors of World War II and the unshakable hold that memories and torment from that time can have, even today.
Visionary director David Pountney brilliantly stages this landmark work, taking audiences on a voyage from the stylish deck of the luxury liner to the squalor of a Nazi death camp where cruelty, despair, and unspeakable courage are evident in equal measure. Conductor Patrick Summers leads the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra and Chorus through Weinberg’s emotionally-searing score, which had been banned by Soviet authorities upon its completion in 1968, resurfacing for its first full staging some 40 years later and only now makes its eagerly-awaited New York premiere.
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Co-presented by Park Avenue Armory and Lincoln Center Festival
The Passenger is a co-production of Bregenzer Festispiele, Teatr Wieki, English National Opera and Teatro Real.
Houston Grand Opera’s performances of The Passenger in New York are generously underwritten by Bill and Sara Morgan and Amanda and Morris Gelb.
This production is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.