Giuseppe Verdi : Messa Da Requiem
In memoriam Terezin
Ars Musici AM 5083
Olga Romanko, (Soprano)
Liliana Bizineche, (Mezzo Soprano)
Aquiles Machado, (Ténor)
Simon Yang, (Basse)
Prague Chamber Chorus
Czech Philharmonic Chorus
German Youth Philharmonic Orchestra
Defiant Requiem tells the
little-known story of the Nazi concentration camp, Terezin. Led by imprisoned
conductor Rafael Schächter, the inmates of Terezin fought back...with art and
music. Through hunger, disease and slave labor, the Jewish inmates of Terezin
hold onto their humanity by staging plays, composing opera and using paper and
ink to record the horrors around them.
This creative rebellion reaches its peak when Schächter teaches a choir of 150 inmates one of the world's most difficult and powerful choral works, Verdi's Requiem, re-imagined as a condemnation of the Nazis. The choir would ultimately confront the Nazis face to face... and sing to them what they dare not say.
For over ten years, conductor Murry Sidlin has dreamed of bringing the Requiem back to Terezin. Now, through soaring concert footage, powerful survivor recollections, cinematic dramatizations and evocative animation, DEFIANT REQUIEM brings the incredible story of this artistic uprising to life.
The concert-drama, Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín,
tells the story of the courageous Jewish prisoners in the Theresienstadt
Concentration Camp during World War II who performed the famous Verdi
Requiem Mass while experiencing the depths of human degradation. With
only a smuggled score, they performed the famous oratorio sixteen times,
including one performance before senior SS officials from Berlin and a Red
Cross delegation. Conductor Rafael Schächter told the choir, “We
will sing to the Nazis what we cannot say to them.”
The concert was conceived and created by Foundation President, Maestro Murry Sidlin. The concert combines the magnificent music of Verdi with testimony from survivors of the original chorus and footage from a Nazi propaganda film on Theresienstadt. The performance also includes actors who speak the words of imprisoned conductor Rafael Schächter and other prisoners. This is not just another performance of the Verdi Requiem, but a tribute to the inspired leadership of Rafael Schächter who was forced to reconstitute the choir three times as members were transported to Auschwitz. The performances came to symbolize resistance and defiance and answering the worst of mankind with the best of mankind. The performance is powerful, dramatic and inspirational, with a contemporary message of hope.
The story of Terezín unfolds between each section of the Verdi score. The final concert/drama, running two hours without intermission, explains why the performances in 1943 and 1944 provided a beacon of hope for the prisoner choir and its audience.
Following a 2010 performance at the Kennedy Center, Washington Post reviewer Stephen Brooks wrote, “Murry Sidlin’s setting of the music, incorporating film of the camp, interviews with survivors, and actors describing the dramatic background, was handled with both dignity and power, and pushed the requiem to even more harrowing depths and exalting heights.”
The Defiant Requiem has been performed at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC, Budapest, Hungary and three times at Terezín as well as other cities in the United States.
The script is copyrighted and the performance is only available by agreement with the Defiant Requiem Foundation.