A lot is known about the unique history of the children's opera “Brundibar,” which was written by the Czech composer Hans Krasa in 1938 for the children in a Prague orphanage in Czechoslovakia. After the Nazis occupied Prague and sent the resident orphans to the concentration camp, Terezin, the cast and other children continued performing the opera there. The children performed it more than 50 times, up until October 1944 when most of the cast, along with other prisoners, including the composer Hans Krasa, were sent to the death camps.

It brings one to tears to watch the Nazi propaganda documentary film, created in 1944 on the order of the Nazi commanders, in which the young performers sing the finale of the opera, “We won a victory! We won a victory!” It is true; in the opera they have won. According to the libretto by A. Hoffmeister, Good triumphs over Evil, and, with help of a Cat, Dog, and Sparrow who were able to organize schoolchildren from nearby, brother Pepicek and sister Anninka won a victory over the greedy hurdy-gurdy player Brundibar, who did not want to give up his place on the town square where he was earning money by playing his instrument. Now Pepicek and Anninka would be able to earn money themselves to buy milk for their sick mother.

On October 27th and 28th 2010, “Brundibar” will be performed in the Brookline's Lincoln Elementary School (7 p.m., free admission). Even though this performance of the opera is not the first one in Boston, in some sense it is unique, because the performers will be children from Lincoln Elementary School and from the Musical Theater “Zazerkalie” in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The inspiration for this production comes from the Executive Director of the Educational Bridge Project, Dr. Ludmilla Leibman. After defending her doctoral dissertation at Boston University, she began teaching a course on the music of the Holocaust period there—the first such course of its kind in the history of higher education. Every year her BU students produced “Brundibar,” and Professor Leibman keeps a collection of photos and video-recordings from different years; she even has the backdrop with all her students' autographs on it.

In 2009, on Dr. Leibman's initiative, “Brundibar” was premiered in Russia by the Children's Studio of the Musical Theater “Zazerkalie” in one of the most prestigious halls of St. Petersburg, the Actors' House. The Director of the production, Sofia Drabkina, prepared her young actors very well; they not only acted out the words of the script but conveyed the gravity of the historical and social context of Hans Krasa's opera. Samantha Gelfon, who gave the introduction to the performance on that evening in May 2009, will introduce the opera again at the Lincoln Elementary School on the evenings of October 27th and 28th, as part of the Educational Bridge Project's 18th festival.

Preparations for this collaborative production are going forward full-speed at Lincoln Elementary School. For many months the school's music teacher, Molly Quinlan, has been working with her students on the roles of the soloists and rehearsing the chorus. Five soloists are coming from Russia – the performers of the roles of Anninka, Pepicek, the Cat, the Dog, and the Sparrow - accompanied by Director Sofia Drabkina, choirmaster Irina Andriakova, and concertmaster Alexander Bogachev. It will be not an easy job for the young performers from two countries: in less than a week’s time they will have to rehearse, learn how to sing and act together, and all that on top of everyday school work, homework, while the Russians the challenge would be communicating only in English!

The two evenings at Lincoln Elementary School in Brookline will be a culmination of the collaborative work of children and adults from two countries. Thanks go to the School's Principal, Kristen Herbert, for her assistance, to music teacher Molly Quinlan for all the tremendous work she has been doing, to Boston University for their support, and to you, dear future spectators, for your interest. We will be delighted to see you at the “Brundibar” performances on October 27th and 28th, and – before that – on the opening day of the EBP’s 18th festival. The programs are non-traditional, the Russian and American performers excellent, and the discussions open to everyone who wants to participate. Please come to these concerts and to many other festival events, which will continue through November 10th. See the program below and visit our website for details and updates:



Satellite Events



Thursday, October 28 - Brookline High School


7:30 – 9 a.m. Different Trains by Steve Reich: contemporary American composer's response to the Holocaust. Jennifer Thomas' presentation and performance by Russian musicians for the Brookline High School students of Carolyn  Castellano


Monday, November 1 - Goethe Institute of Boston

7:30-9 p.m. Die Weise von Liebe und Tod, composition written by Viktor Ullmann on the poem of Rainer Maria Rilke, performed in the Terezin concentration camp. Narrated by the Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany, Friedrich L. Lohr, accompanied by pianist Natalia Katonova (St. Petersburg) with an introduction by Ludmilla Leibman. Reception to follow


Thursday, November 4 - Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies, Boston University


6-7:30 p.m. We Are Here! Musical remembrance of the Holocaust by song writer and performer, Rosalie Gerut, guitar