Passazhirka [The Passenger]

Set after WWII, a married German couple, Lisa and Walter, are traveling by ship from Europe to Brazil where the husband is taking a new diplomatic posting. The wife, Lisa, recognizes a Polish woman onboard the ship as a former inmate of Auschwitz whom she believed to be dead. Not knowing whether this woman is real or a hallucination, Lisa is forced to confess to her husband that she was a camp guard in Auschwitz, and the woman, Marta, was a prisoner she oversaw. The opera is set on two levels: the upper deck where Lisa and Walter are sailing, and the lower deck depicting the concentration camp.
Format: Opera
Cast Size:8M/10F
Character breakdown:

Marta—soprano
Lisa—mezzo-soprano
Tadeusz—baritone
Katja—soprano
Krystina—mezzo-soprano
Vlasta—mezzo-soprano
Hannah—contralto
Yvette—soprano
Alte—soprano
Bronka—contralto
Walter—tenor
First SS-man—bass
Second SS-man—bass
Third SS-man—tenor
Male passenger—bass
Female passenger—spoken
Capo—spoken
Steward—spoken
Prisoners in Auschwitz, passengers and crew of the ship

Notes:

Mieczyslaw Weinberg (composer)
Alexander Medvedev (librettist)

The Passenger was written 1968 and was originally planned to have its premiere at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, but the production was canceled due to Soviet suppression. Subsequent production plans were not successful and Mieczyslaw Weinberg died in 1996 without ever seeing it onstage.

Snapshot

Original or Prominent Production:
Bregenzer Festspiele (Bregenz Festival), Bregenz, Austria, 2010. The same production was also staged by the Polish National Opera in 2010. The U.K. premiere was on September 19, 2011 at the English National Opera. The U.S. premiere was on January 18, 2014 at Houston Grand Opera.
Original Source Material: Based on a Polish radio play Passenger in Cabin 45 by Polish camp survivor Zofia Posmysz.
Nationality of Author: Polish
Original Language: Russian

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