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Media Release - 26th Oct, 2016
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For Immediate Release

26th Oct, 2016

Holocaust survivor lends wisdom for new production of children’s opera Brundibár

 
Almost 75 years ago, Torontonian John Freund sat in the audience for a performance of Hans Krása’s children’s opera Brundibár. It was an opera of hope, fun and adventure.  It was also presented in the Nazi concentration camp of Terezín where John and thousands of other Czech Jews were imprisoned.
 
In March 2017, the Canadian Children’s Opera Company will present a new production of Brundibár, and is thrilled that Holocaust survivor John Freund will again be in the audience.
 
During the Second World War, the Nazis created a concentration camp in the Czech town of Terezín. Known in German as Theresienstadt, the camp saw upwards of 155,000 people pass through its gates, many on their way to a sadder fate in extermination camps “to the East”.  Despite its grim purpose, Terezín was to become a place of hope and inspiration. Remarkably, the arts flourished in Terezín as painters, musicians and actors were allowed to continue their work.  Symphony concerts, plays, and lectures were a regular occurrence, showing not only the resilience of those oppressed, but also the power of the arts to lift the human spirit in the darkest of times.  In 1942, Hans Krása’s children’s opera Brundibár premiered in a Prague orphanage. The work was subsequently smuggled into Terezín and performed over 50 times by the children held there.
John Freund
The Canadian Children’s Opera Company is thrilled to partner with Oscar-award winning filmmaker Malcolm Clarke in this exciting new production. Winner of the 2013 Academy Award for Best Short Documentary, The Lady in No. 6: Music Saved My Life tells the story of concert pianist and Terezín survivor Alice Herz-Sommer and will serve as a poignant complement to Brundibár - an opera in which her own son participated.  CCOC Music Director Teri Dunn conducts members of the CCOC accompanied by a professional chamber orchestra.  Innovative Canadian director, founder of Against the Grain Theatre, and COC veteran Joel Ivany returns to the CCOC to provide stage direction.  This is a new CCOC production with sets and costumes by Adriana Bogaard and lighting and video projection by Cameron Davis.
 
On recalling the Terezin production of the opera, Mr. Freund states “The greatest hit of all was the opera Brundibár, composed in Prague by the Jewish composer Honza Krasa.  He was also deported to the Ghetto in Terezin and did not survive the war.  This is the story of a wicked organ grinder who did not allow two children to sing in the streets to raise money for their sick mother. This led to a victory of the children – united, the children could defeat even the wicked.  Both the music and the story touched everyone experiencing the opera.”
 
Brundibár runs March 2-5, 2016 at the Harbourfront Centre Theatre, 235 Queens Quay West in Toronto.
 

About the Canadian Children’s Opera Company

Currently in its 49th season, the CCOC consists of six choruses for ages 3 to 19 and is the only permanent children’s opera company in Canada. Led by Artistic Director Dean Burry, Managing Director Ken Hall, and Music Director Teri Dunn, the company engages young people in the vibrant world of opera by offering intensive musical and dramatic training and numerous professional performing experiences. In addition to their own concerts and opera productions, members regularly perform with the Canadian Opera Company and other major professional organizations, record, and tour nationally and internationally. 
 
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For more information please contact:
Ken Hall
Managing Director
416-366-0467x223
ken@canadianchildrensopera.com
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