TOURING AMERICAN OPERA
ENCOMPASS MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION
2002, 2003, 2004
In June 2004, Encompass New Opera Theatre’s acclaimed production of Russian composer Grigori Frid’s opera, The Diary of Anne Frank, honored her memory, in what would have been her 75th year, with four commemorative, sold-out performances at Cleveland Opera’s 1,000-seat Ohio Theatre.
As a result, the production, directed by Nancy Rhodes, conducted by Sybille Werner, and starring Dunja Pechstein as Anne Frank, was one of three finalists for the 2004 Arts Awards of Achievement for Classical Music, by Northern Ohio Live, a prominent arts magazine.
Riding the wave of our phenomenal success with The Diary of Anne Frank we are taking the production on tour and are set to perform it in venues across the country and internationally
"Having seen Ms. Pechstein's remarkable performance... we are proud and honored to have been part of such a moving and artistically superb enterprise.
This production... is not only musically affecting and provocative. It also sheds a new light on the Diary..."
Bernhard von der Planitz, Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany, New York City
"Pechstein masterfully conveyed Anne's transformation from wide-eyed, ecstatic birthday girl to... somber young woman...
Her portrayal of Frank was deeply affecting, revealing an understanding of Frank both as a young woman and as an extraordinary symbol...
Anne Frank felt much shorter than its hour length, swiftly taking the audience through twenty-one scenes and nearly as many emotions."
Alicia Zuckerman, Opera News Online
"[B]y the time the hour had passed in which one brilliant young soprano with rare acting ability had dazzled the audience with a knockout performance,
we came to realize that Anne Frank fit the demands of the mono opera almost perfectly... Mr. Frid's 21 scenes are right out of the diary and
the words that he selected for the stage lift the subject far above the standard fare...The dialogue among the ensemble players seems ideally intimate,
in fact, exactly right... Encompass's Director and founder, Nancy Rhodes, once again led a production into a rarified atmosphere of excellence."
Barry Cohen, New Music Connoisseur
"Frid uses the monologue form with great skill to extend those portraits both verbally and musically... [Frid] has taken a book with which
we are almost too familiar and reimagined it in an unlikely way, with results that restore much of the power of the original work."
George Robinson, The Jewish Week
Dunja Pechstein (Anne Frank) is a native of Germany. She received her masters in music and a degree in vocal pedagogy from the Musikhochschule in Detmold, Germany. Ms. Pechstein has performed in The Magic Flute (Knabe); The Marriage of Figaro (Barbarina); Hansel and Gretel (Hansel); Il Turco in Italia (Zaida); The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahoganny (Girl); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Puck); Dido and Aeneas (Witch); and in the New York premiere of The Diary of Anne Frank. A versatile musician with a strong interest in contemporary music, Ms. Pechstein performed regularly with the percussion ensemble Rhythmik Attacca and was hired as a guest artist at the Landestheater in Detmold. After moving to New York City in 1997, Ms. Pechstein performed her solo recital debut at the German General Consulate in 1999. She has appeared in productions with Elysium Between Two Continents and The Lark Ascending. Ms. Pechstein is the voice teacher on the music faculty at the United Nations International School and at the German School of White Plains.
Nancy Rhodes (stage director and producer) In May 2000, Opera America honored Founding Artistic Director Nancy Rhodes and Encompass New Opera Theatre "In recognition of 25 years of dynamic leadership." A champion of American Opera, Rhodes staged the world premiere of Kirke Mechem’s Tartuffe for San Francisco Opera, Virgil Thomson’s Lord Byron at Alice Tully Hall, new operas for the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra, Pittsburgh Opera Theatre, and Waterbury Symphony. Internationally, she directed Death In Venice in Stockholm, Carmen in Oslo, Happy End in Finland, Kiss Me Kate in Ankara, (filmed for TV), and West Side Story in Istanbul. In Amsterdam, she directed Eccentrics, Outcasts and Visionaries: A Century of American Opera. At Encompass, she staged The Mother of Us All (awarded Excellence in the Creative Arts), Regina, Phaedra, Michael Stewart’s Elizabeth and Essex starring Estelle Parsons, and the American Premieres of Antheil’s Transatlantic and Venus in Africa and the world premiere of Un Racconto Fiorentino at Alice Tully Hall. She directs musical theatre workshops in Europe and Asia and is the Vice President and U.S. Delegate to the International Theatre Institute, where she has been a guest speaker in Sweden, Germany, Venezuela, Argentina, Korea, Moscow, Czech Republic, and Estonia.
Sybille Werner (Conductor) has appeared with symphony orchestras in the U.S. and Europe, including the Fort Collins Symphony in Colorado, Opera Amici in Manhattan, the New York Symphonic Arts Ensemble (where she is also music director), and the Bialystok State Philharmonic and the Poznan Symphony in Poland. She has served as Music Director/Conductor of the Pro Solisti Chamber Orchestra, the Manhattan Opera Association, the Rockaway-Five Towns Symphony, and the Philharmonia Orchestra of New York. In 2000 she led the world premiere of a chamber opera by Martin Halpern and made her German debut with concerts at Collegium Musicum Schloss Pommersfelden and with the First Women’s Chamber Orchestra of Austria. Last spring Ms. Werner made her debut in Japan with Keiko Fujiie’s La Niña de Cera, followed by Grigori Frid’s The Diary of Anne Frank in New York, a recording engagement with the SWR Radio Orchestra Kaiserslautern, and a multimedia chamber opera production of Dave Soldier’s Naked Revolution in Virginia.
Grigori Frid (Composer) was born in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1915. He studied composition in Irkutsk and at the Moscow Conservatory. After serving in World War II, he produced many instrumental and vocal works and compositions for symphony and chamber orchestras. In 1965 Mr. Frid founded the Moscow Youth Music Club, a well-known venue for introducing the works of contemporary composers. Among Mr. Frid’s most important works are his two mono operas, The Diary of Anne Frank (1969) and The Letters of van Gogh (1975). Mr. Frid resides in Moscow.
Charles Townsend Wittreich Jr. (set designer) has designed On the Verge, Icons and Outcasts and When I Was a Girl I Used to Scream and Shout, directed by Patricia Miskoff at the John Montgomery Theatre, and Bloody Poetry, directed by Chris Hayes at CSC. He has assisted Broadway designers John Ezell, Eldon Elder, Loren Sherman, Bob Crowley, John Arnone, David Gallo and Heidi Ettinger. Regional credits include Guys and Dolls, directed by Stephen Terrell at the Texas Shakespeare Festival and Wonderland and The Forest at the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival. Mr. Wittreich received his MFA from the University of Kansas City and is the College Director of Theatres at SCCC.
Izzy Einsidler (Lighting Designer) returns to the production of The Diary of Anne Frank and is proud to be working with Nancy Rhodes again. Most recent credits include: An Ordinary Miracle, and The Lynching of Leo Frank (Ensemble Studio Theatre/Medicine Show) This is How it Began (Woodstock Theatre Company, inaugural season), The Subject Was Roses, and Sus (Jean Cocteau Repertory), and Diary of a Madman (Rand Theater, UMASS at Amherst). Regional and International credits include: Sweeney Todd (Stagedoor), Orpheus, and The Playboy of the Western World (Mountview, UK), Lebenspielle (London Fringe, UK) and various work with the Royal National Theatre and The Reduced Shakespeare Company in London. Mr. Einsidler’s work can also be seen this spring at Jean Cocteau Repertory in their production of The Marriage of Figaro.
Sarah Lewis (Stage Manager) is currently completing her B.A. in Music at the Aaron Copland School of Music (CUNY). Although primarily a singer/ songwriter and classical guitarist, she frequently finds herself working in theatre in one capacity or another. Most recently she worked with the Roundabout Theatre Company in Special Promotions, and in May 2001 assisted in the New York premiere of The Diary of Anne Frank. She is making her debut as stage manager with this production.
Marianne Powell-Parker (Hair and Makeup) has designed costumes for numerous productions for Encompass New Opera Theatre including Venus in Africa, Phaedra, Miss Havisham’s Wedding Night, Ocean Dream and I Will Wait. A Fulbright scholar, she has worked with the Barter Theatre, the Goodman Theatre, River Arts Repertory and Bristol Repertory Theatre.
Matthew Cade (Gestapo) received his degree in theatre from Hunter College in 1999. Some New York theatre credits have been Brighton Beach Memoirs at the Greenwich Street Theatre, Anthony and Cleopatra at the Jan Hus Playhouse, and The Amphibian Song at the Abington theatre. Recently he had a principle role in a pilot which was a spin-off of the 1993 movie "A Bronx Tale." He thanks his family and Cindy for their support.
Ben Patch (Gestapo) is appearing in his third production since moving to New York eight months ago. Ben would like to thank Encompass New Opera Theatre for this wonderful opportunity.
Translation by Alla Gomon and James Briscoe
On Friday I awoke at six o’clock. And no wonder - my birthday, my birthday.
But never mind, that I must not get up so early, I had to keep quite still on my birthday until six forty five.
I couldn't bear any longer. So I went right into the dining room, then started to unwrap my presents. And you, my diary, I found you the first of all, that was my best gift on my birthday.
Father and mother got me such fine presents, bunches of presents.
So long now, I’m so happy that you are here with me!
Now it’s Sunday, it’s the twenty-first of June in the year nineteen forty-two.
Our whole class is frightened and trembling. Soon now, soon now the teachers’ meeting will be held.
Old Mister Kepler the old Math master has for a long time been annoyed with me, he has said that I chatter too much. But I told him that talking is a trait of women, a trait of women. Mama talks as much as I, as much as I or more and what can one do about it? You can’t deny your very nature. Old Mister Kepler just chuckled at my reasons, then he made such fun: "Quack-Quack, Mamselle Duckling!"
My class howled with laughter.
4. CONVERSATION WITH FATHER
My father often stays at home now, often he stays at home now, my father may not go to work now. How sad not to live a full life and to be unwanted.
Today, as he and I went walking, Papa told me all the plans about the "Hiding Place".
He said it would not be a good life in such a place, where the world would be cut away far from us.
"We must escape the dreaded Fascist hand. That is why we must hide away, we must not wait and let them capture us."
Oh, how I do wish this day were so far away, so far away!
5. NOTICE FROM THE GESTAPO
Today the eighth of July.
So many things have happened, it seems that the whole world turned over!
My Father opened up a notice from the Gestapo, and that means: Concentration Camp...
Mama went to see the Van Daans, to ask if now we should go to our hiding. To hide up in the attic of my father’s warehouse. The van Daans and we are seven, we will be seven there, we will be seven there....
6. HIDING PLACE
Saturday the eleventh of July. Our "Hiding Place".
Papa, Mama and Margot just can’t get used to the sound of the tower, of the striking.
But I loved it from the start, so very pretty, especially at night.
Our secret Annex, is such an ideal hiding place. It’s no matter that it is damp and leans to one side, in all of Holland you won’t find a better hiding place from the storm.
It is the silence, when I get so very frightened, especially, especially at night. I think we shall never see the daylight. Never live to be free and get out of here, they will find us and shoot us.
7. BY THE WINDOW
I sit by the window and see the world go whirling by people scramble and disappear.
It is so strange to see how they run. How they hurry into darkness, hurry into nothingness, my window opens just enough to let me wonder. This quarter near us is poor working folk, the children so desperate.
Through the window there are many things to see: there are tulips, daffodils, raindrops...and all hiding under black umbrellas.
8. I WAS TOLD
Friday now, it’s October sixteen.
Now in the news they call for diaries to be published after the war and novels, too. I wonder if it’s true, yes, I’ll write a novel of my own "My hiding place".
How silly such a title how very bad, they’ll think of some detective story, some Sherlock Holmes! When the war is done, when we are free, they won’t believe me if I write my story and if I describe how we were forced to live.
Now we are all so frightened. We’re told a worker in the warehouse beneath the attic suspects we are hiding here. Who knows, if we can trust such a person or not...
They won’t believe me, if I write my story and if I describe how we were forced to live.
The weight upon my heart presses always and pulls to a deep chasm.
A songbird am I with her song quiet, a songbird with no voice, how she struggles, struggles, struggles never free to sing, never free to leave her cage, never.
"Oh freedom, oh freedom I cry deep inside. I want to, to breathe, to laugh out"!
But I know it, I will never be free. I’m off to bed now, it’s all I can do to shorten the hours of silence and fear of silence.
When I think about my life, my life before Germans came to Holland, all was so ideal, all is so distant. Another Anne was living inside me.
Now peace is gone, peace is no more, no more. So careless such a lighthearted child so happy that Anne never will return.
Last night deep a sleep, I had such a dream, such a nightmare. I saw her there before me. My friend, my girlfriend Liess.
In silence and in tears exhausted, dressed in rags. Hope was gone, even in the darkness she appeared, emaciated, a skeleton.
Her eyes, her eyes so sad. They stared at me, they reproached me, it was as if she spoke to me:
"Anna, oh Anna, stay with me, don’t abandon me! Take me away out of this torment."
I cannot help her now, I cannot help...I pray to God to save her, to give her peace, save her; Oh dear God, support her, and bring her back to us!
13. DUET OF THE VAN DAANS
Today I’ll describe a very common, very common squabble of Mrs. van Daan and her husband.
"Dearie" that is what she calls him, "I do not know why the English stopped the bombing?"
"Because the weather now is so bad, don’t you see that?"
"Oh, Dearie, no the sky was lovely yesterday!"
"Ah, please don’t say it, please don’t repeat the same old thing!"
"Why can’t a woman share her opinions just like men?"
"Why say ‘Stop it’?"
"Oh hell, just shut up! Idiot!"
"But now I know the Allies won’t come, they won’t come at all!"
"Why say ‘Stop it’? Why say ‘Stop it’?"
"Shut up your stupid blabber, your stupid pig snout! Someday I’ll make you sorry, sorry you were ever born! You God forsaken fool! I can’t stand this nonsense! You should rub your nose into your filth, rub it in rubbish."
The curtain falls on this drama.
I couldn’t keep from laughing, laughing. I was laughing so hard!
Peter and Mama could not hold it back.
Today the fourth of August nineteen hundred forty three.
A robber in the warehouse! Below us, just below us. The robber, who can it be, what can he want?
But what if he tells the Gestapo that he heard us, just to save himself?
One day Peter and I found a quiet place there in the attic we sat down together, on a box.
We were sitting very close, his hand found mine in the silence.
How lovely the trees coming out this year, sunlight calls us to come out a while, sky so blue, so blue, such crystal blue.
I long to go out and touch the world.
16. I THINK OF PETER...
Late every night I lie awake and wonder, I wonder if he dreams of me. I think of his earnest glance, tender glance, when our eyes meet, and of our fear to speak the truth: Of love, future years, happiness, and then I think about not our sadness but of all the wonders, of lovely nature, of life in the world, in spite of evil and fear, this world is still beautiful.
And as for man he too is good at heart...
In life there’s no pleasure in life, there’s no beauty like greeting the morning and knowing that nature is begging for you to come sing, and feeling the sun and watching the moon, and loving each other, and caring for someone, and silently waiting.
17. AT THE RUSSIAN FRONT
We hear in the news the Russians are winning! At the Polish border they will come all the Allies.
They take many captives. And now all the Nazi boys know about defeat.
Tralala la la la la hooray for freedom! All we hidden ones are in a happy mood. Any moment now, we’ll hear something wonderful that the Allies are at hand.
In Moscow shouting, in London there’s laughter and in Washington they cheer like thunder, I do not know why they make such noise like thunder cries and shouts laughter. You could say they can’t express any other way after all the joy of all the world.
Knocking beneath us here. It’s quiet again. Again knocking.
Terror. They’re there walking Gestapo. In the warehouse beneath our hiding place...
We didn't dare to breathe, all you could hear was the frantic beating of seven hearts.
Steps, steps, they’re stopping at our stair, closer, closer, closer! They’re at the cupboard that hides our stair, oh, God!
Again they shake it, again..
Something’s falling down.
The steps, now they move away. We are burning with fever. And never since that very night such a danger, danger, as on this night.
The Gestapo stood right at the cupboard, but nothing did they find, nothing did they find.
Actually in youth all is far more lonely than old age. The young have passions ideals, the old are far more practical and they know what they must do in life. But as for youth when life is new.
It is hard to be so sure in times like these when we see all ideals collapse before us, when all about is falsehood, justice is forsaken, happiness gone!
Ideals and dreams shining expectations cannot be still in our hearts, and if hope comes to us, the horrible reality will destroy hope utterly...
It’s a wonder that up to now I still have hope and keep my spirit high. I see how now the world is becoming nothing but a desert.
Now the thunder of war is here, it threatens to find and destroy us it seems to me, that we exist in a patch of sky, blue sky, between the black, hateful storm clouds.
But it is coming nearer and nearer, it will absorb us in our desperate struggle, struggle for freedom How we shove and strangle each other.
We see how people down in the street struggle too, we see how hatred overcomes us all and now the dark surrounds us, blackens us and separates like a, a curtain.
The darkness ever pressing on us ever like a wall moving to us to crash us. And now all I can do is pray:
"Adonoi eluhenu, make our way open our path to freedom!"
Now the sun shines skies are clear and blue. One can’t even take in the beauty. Each morning I go to the roof to breathe deep the fresh air.
The roof has become my favorite place, I see before me canals like ribbons. Chestnuts bare of leaves and the sparkling diamonds of dew. I see seagulls soaring in the blue sky their wings seem like silver sails on the horizon.
I gaze out from my open roof top perch, from where I can see all of Amsterdam, a sea of roofs that stretch out all the way to the horizon.
So long as I have this sunlight, so long as I have the earth and all nature that exists for me, for me to love, I can never be sad!
Whenever you are put to trial, whenever you are lonely, unhappy go out and be unto yourself
where it’s peaceful, where you can be unhindered. Alone with nature alone with God,
at last now I know nature makes our life whole, suf’ring she can send away, pain is gone at nature’s hand.
And when I look up to heaven, then I can think that every cruelty someday must have an end, and once again peace and love shall reign on earth.
But ‘til that time we must keep our faith, our hopes and dreams.
We must hold to courage, tho’ the weak may fall, the strong endure to carry on. I am prepared to sacrifice my life for the future.
And if the Lord wills that I should survive, I shall give my self to serve the world.
For now I realize that courage and loving kindness must be dearer now than ever! Power, glory, that is as nothing. But a joyous heart will falter for a moment only, ever more hope will awaken and hope will remain your heart’s strength all your life.
So long as you can look up without fear to the heavens...
The Story of Anne Frank
During the Holocaust, Anne Frank, a 13-year-old Jewish girl, hid in the attic of her father’s office building in Amsterdam from 1942 to 1944. The space was shared by her family and four others.
While in hiding, she kept a diary, a gift from her parents on her 13th birthday, of everyday life, the shared joys, the squabbles, and her hopes and fears.
After 25 months in "The Secret Annex," Anne and the others were betrayed and sent to concentration camps. Nine months later, Anne Frank died at Bergen-Belson of Typhus. Her father, the only family member to survive, later published the pages of her diary.
The first edition of Anne Frank’s diary appeared in the Netherlands in 1947. It has since been translated into 55 languages and has sold 20 million copies. At the turn of the century, Time magazine placed Anne Frank on its list of the "Hundred Personalities of the 20th Century."
About The Diary of Anne Frank
Composer Grigori Frid read Anne Frank’s diary in 1969 and began to write the libretto shortly thereafter. Using excerpts from the original diary, Mr. Frid depicts episodes in the life of the young girl. After two scheduled performances were canceled because they coincided with Communist Party meetings, he finally performed with only a piano in 1972. The first full production took place in Kislovodsk in 1977, and a year later, Mr. Frid smuggled the score to an American lawyer, who arranged a performance at the University of Syracuse. In 1991, the opera was translated into English and performed in Indianapolis; the German premiere took place two years later. Since then, the opera has been performed in Austria, Sweden, and Switzerland. In May, 2001, Music Tales and Encompass NewOpera Theatre produced the New York Premiere production of Frid’s opera at Temple Israel, starring Dunja Pechstein, directed by Nancy Rhodes. An extended engagement of Encompass’ production played the Connelly Theatre in Manhattan from January 10 to February 3, 2002, and was recently presented at Suffolk County Community College in October, 2003.