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ELYSIUM: THE GREAT DISRUPTION - AUSTRIAN FEMALE WRITERS REFLECT UPON THE FATEFUL YEAR 1938
THURSDAY, OCT 18, 07:30 PM
At this year’s cooperation with Elysium, and in the context of our Remembrance Year activities, we present a literary-musical collage featuring texts by Rose Ausländer, Vicki Baum, Veza Canetti, Mimi Grossberg, Maria Ley Piscator, Macha Kaléko, Berta Zuckerkandl, and Hermnyia zur Mühlen, accompanied by music by Egon Lustgarten, Alma Mahler, and Karl and Vally Weigl.
Conception and Introduction: Michael Lahr
Narrator: Gregorij von Leitis
Piano: Richard Cordova
Sopranos: Alexis Rodda and Jeannie Im
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Michael Lahr studied philosophy at the College of Philosophy in Munich and at the Jesuit University Centre Sevres in Paris. He is author and editor of the book "The Erwin Piscator Award", and a co-author of the volume of essays "Bilder des Menschen" ("Images of Man"). In the Karl Jaspers Yearbook 2016, he published an essay on "Erwin Piscator’s work in exile in New York". As a specialist in Erwin Piscator, the founder of the political and epic theater, he curated the exhibit "Erwin Piscator: Political Theater in Exile", which so far has been seen in Bernried, New York, Catania, Salzburg, and Munich. As the program director of Elysium he has unearthed numerous works by artists who had to flee their home country under the pressure of the Nazi regime, or who were murdered. Many of these compositions were performed for the first time in concerts in Europe and the U.S. He gives introductory lectures for all Elysium programs. At the same time, he lectures regularly on questions of general social and political significance.
Jeannie Im (Soprano), started working with Elysium in 2000 as a participant of the "6th International Summer Academy". Since then she has been seen in the role of Gloria in the Italian premiere of Ernst Krenek’s "What Price Confidence" at the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, co-produced by Elysium, and sung many concerts under the auspices of Elysium, featuring music by composers who were exiled or killed during World War II. With "Ullmann’s Legacy from Terezin" she went on tour through Europe. In 2005 she sang the role of Beatrice in the world-premiere of Egon Lustgarten’s opera "Dante in Exile", first at the Elysium Festival Bernried, then at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. Since then she has been part of many Elysium productions, among them the musical-literary revue "The Pursuit of Happiness and Remember: For the Future". In 2014 she conceived and directed the Operetta Revue and Tribute to Marta Eggerth’s Artistry "Mein Liebeslied muss ein Walzer sein".
Gregorij von Leitis, Artistic Director of Elysium, has been working as a theatre director in Europe and the US for over 40 years. In 1985 he received the New York Theater Club Prize for this direction of Brecht's "The Jewish Wife". In 2003, he was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit by German President Johannes Rau. In 2016 the Austrian President Dr. Heinz Fischer bestowed the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art on him. In 1985, Gregorij von Leitis founded the Erwin Piscator Award Society, which annually confers the Erwin Piscator Award. In 1989, Gregorij von Leitis, with the Elysium Theater Company, created the program "Theater for the Homeless". Since 1997, Gregorij von Leitis' work has emphasized staging the works of artists who were persecuted and silenced by the Nazis. He directed Ullmann's opera "The Emperor of Atlantis" in New York, the Italian premiere of Krenek's opera "What Price Confidence?", and the world premiere of Egon Lustgarten’s opera "Dante in Exile". One of Viktor Ullmann’s last works from the concentration camp Theresienstadt, "The Lay of Love and Death of the Cornet Christoph Rilke," von Leitis has performed internationally more than 50 times.
Alexis Rodda (soprano) Alumna of the Elysium Academy Program for Young Singers, is described by New York Classical Review as having "a lovely voice, full of color and body in every register." She attended Princeton University (BA), Mannes College (MM), and currently attends CUNY Graduate Center as a Five-Year Fellowship recipient and doctoral candidate. Most recently, she won a grant, the Elebash Award, to travel to Munich and explore the works of exiled Austrian composer, Egon Lustgarten, at the Lahr von Leïtis Archive. A strong proponent of new music, she premiered four new works in the past two years including the leading role in a full-length opera, A Taste of Damnation, by Avner Finberg and has developed a new operatic libretto with best-selling author Cari Luna based on her award-winning novel, The Revolution of Every Day. Previous operatic roles include Second Lady (Die Zauberflöte), Hanna (The Merry Widow), Rosalinde (Die Fledermaus), Nedda (I Pagliacci), Nora/Alice (She, After), The Witch (Hansel und Gretel), Berta (Il Barbiere di Siviglia), Mimi (La Boheme), Genovieffa (Suor Angelica), and Penelope (Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria). At Princeton, she was a Lewis Center for the Arts grant winner to create and sing a new opera by composer Maxwell Mamon, Rosaleen, which had its premiere in Richardson Auditorium. She was a 2013 Boston Metropolitan Opera National Council District Winner and Regional Finalist, a 2014 NYC Metropolitan Opera National Council Encouragement Award Winner, and a 2014 Elebash Grant Winner. She was a 2016 Serge & Olga Koussevitsky Young Artist Award Finalist and a Violetta DuPont Competition Encouragement Award Winner. She continues her voice studies with Arthur Levy and Meagan Miller.
Richard Cordova (piano) made his professional conducting debut leading the Scandinavian Premiere of Bernstein's Candide in Bergen, Norway, and has subsequently conducted productions for Oper der Stadt Bonn, Opera North (New Hampshire), Sarasota Opera, Opera Company of Boston, Long Beach Opera, Berkshire Opera, Florida Grand Opera and Baltimore Opera. He has served as Music Director for both Julie Taymor's Juan Darien during its initial off-Broadway inception (later conducting the work during its Tony Award nominated run at Lincoln Center Theater during the 1996-97 season); and earlier for Music-Theater Group's groundbreaking off-Broadway production of Virgil Thomson's The Mother of Us All, an opera he later conducted more often than any other living conductor. As a pianist, he has collaborated with such artists as Martina Arroyo, Frederica von Stade, Renato Bruson, Florence Quivar and Julia Migenes, and has worked in this capacity for several major opera companies around the world. For the past seventeen years, he has toured internationally with various productions of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, conducting the work on four continents. He continues a ten-year association with the Sarasota Opera, having held various titles with organization including that of Program and Music Director for the Studio Artists.
Image Credit: Letizia Mariotti