The Passenger | Lyric Opera House | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader

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When: Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays. Continues through March 15 2015

Mieczyslaw Weinberg's opera opens on an ocean liner steaming from Europe to Brazil during the early 1960s. In David Pountney's visually stunning production for Lyric Opera, the passengers look like affluent angels, bathed in light as they circle a pristine deck. But their beautiful world is perched high above the stage floor. The vastness beneath them is dark. Worse: it's Auschwitz. One of the passengers, Liese, was an officer at the camp. When she catches sight of a woman who may have been one of her victims, Liese finds herself thrown down into the abyss she was so sure she'd left. Though first produced in 2006, The Passenger was written nearly 40 years earlier, and musically it can feel like a period piece. What's more, its solemnity, pain, and three-hour running time demand endurance. Still, it's marvelously sung and acted here, and Alexander Medvedev's powerful libretto shows Auschwitz unconventionally, as a hell built not only for Jews but for multitudes from every corner of Europe. And then it can be savagely honest too. "Do not forgive them," the prisoners sing. "Never ever." —Tony Adler

Price: $20-$369

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