Brundibar: David Ward in the Title Role

Nov 2, 2009

I did not know the opera before but discovering it in this production has been a delight. As I hear the orchestra play its complex melodies and then hear the children sing so simply and lyrically, I am amazed that such an intricate composition can be so simple and straight-forward. And the tunes stay with me – I can’t get some of them out of my head. Though thoroughly Eastern European (I keep hearing Janacek in the way the music twists and turns), I am reminded of the final children’s chorus from Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Both Krása, the Brundibár composer, and Britten use a haunting melody in their final lullabies. The result is a very gentle, soothing and comforting effect. I can see how this brief opera would have been a comfort to the children in the concentration camp where it was performed.

It is also a powerful and accessible story. Two children just want to care for their sick Mom while their friends, both human and animal, come to their aid. In the process, they defeat the oppressive and unkind organ grinder, Brundibár. You can see the evil in Brundibár but I don’t think it is scary. This story comes from such a tragic time but its purpose is to uplift and provide hope. I feel that very powerfully. And that feeling comes from the cast of children, all of whom are so committed, energetic (as kids will be), and full of the zeal that we expect from young people.

It is very gratifying to be the only adult in this cast. The children are so supportive of me and each other. I have spoken at several schools and I am so pleased at the energy and interest the cast kids and their school friends have shown about this show, about music, and about being part of something special. Because this experience is very unique, I am thrilled to be a part of it.

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