Opera UCLA and AOP present "Lost Childhood"

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                    
Press contact:
Matt Gray, email: mgray@operaprojects.org, phone: 718-398-4024
Ariane Bicho, email: ariane.bicho@arts.ucla.edu, phone: 310-206-2035
Press material is available at: www.aopopera.org/press

Opera UCLA presents a new work based on a Holocaust Memoir, commissioned and developed by American Opera Projects..

Lost Childhood
New work based on the memoir of Yehuda Nir and his friendship with author Gottfried Wagner, great-grandson of controversial composer Richard Wagner
Presented by Opera UCLA and commissioned and developed by American Opera Projects

Friday, May 17th | 8:00 PM
Sunday, May 19th | 2:00 PM
Tuesday, May 21st | 8:00 PM
Thursday, May 23rd | 8:00 PM
UCLA Freud Playhouse
245 Charles E Young Dr E
Los Angeles, CA 90024


May 2, 2019

NEW YORK, NY - Commissioned and developed by American Opera Projects, “Lost Childhood” is based on both the memoir of Yehuda Nir, a prominent psychoanalyst and Holocaust survivor, and Nir’s friendship with the author Gottfried Wagner, a man who has struggled with the controversial legacy of his great-grandfather, the composer Richard Wagner. The opera presents fictionalized characters of both men, Judah Gruenfeld (based on Nir) and Manfred Geyer (based on Wagner).

“Yehuda, who died in 2014, and Gottfried, were proponents of dialogue as a way to further reconciliation,” said Peter Kazaras, director of Opera UCLA and professor of music at the Herb Alpert School of Music. “Their message is imparted with searing emotion and heartwarming lyricism. And, though the music recollects the terrors of the Holocaust, it also inspires a hopeful vision of the future.”

The opera explores Judah’s memories of significant moments in his wartime Polish childhood, as he shares them with an increasingly uncomfortable Manfred who is struggling to come to terms with his own family’s culpability in the genocide. In moments tender and profound, the men realize that Judah’s recounting his experience, together with Manfred’s struggle to comprehend them emotionally, can begin the process for healing.

The composer of “Lost Childhood,” Janice Hamer, and librettist, Mary Azrael, were friendly with Nir and Wagner, and it was that relationship that led to the development of the opera’s two fictionalized protagonists.


Lost Childhood

Music by Janice Hamer; Libretto by Mary Azrael
Based on the memoir ‘The Lost Childhood’ by Yehuda Nir
Conducted by Neal Stulberg
Stage Direction by Peter Kazaras
Costume Design by Ruoxuan Li

About American Opera Projects
Currently celebrating its 30th anniversary, American Opera Projects (AOP) is at the forefront of the contemporary opera movement through its commissioning, developing, and producing of opera and music theatre projects, community engagement, and training programs for student and emerging composers and librettists including partnerships with NYU Tisch and Hunter College and its in-house, two-year fellowship program, Composers & the Voice, currently in its tenth season. www.aopopera.org

About UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music
The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music is the first school of music to be established in the University of California system. First established in 2007 under the purview of the UCLA School of Arts and Architecture and the UCLA Division of Humanities, the UC Board of Regents formally voted in January 2016 to establish the school. Supported in part by a generous endowment of $30 million from the Herb Alpert Foundation, the school carries several missions: to educate students through collaborations between performance and scholarship, cultural understandings of the art of music throughout the world, curricula centered on what students need to succeed in music and in life, and cross disciplinary integration in the context of a great research university. Learn more at: https://schoolofmusic.ucla.edu/



Janice Hamer (Composer) is the recipient of numerous compositional awards and fellowships, has had her choral, chamber and orchestral pieces performed by international choruses and orchestras. Her compositions have been influenced by the tutelage of Thea Musgrave and Earl Kim, who was a student of Arnold Schoenberg, UCLA’s first professor of composition, from 1936 to 1944.




Mary Azrael (Librettist), a poet whose work is often set to music, first collaborated with Hamer on the award-winning choral piece, “On Paper Bridges.” Other collaborative works include her poem “Loving the Aliens,” which was set to music and performed by Chris Mandra for The Synesthesia Project at the American Visionary Art Museum, and “Three Riddles,” which was set for children’s chorus by Betty Bertaux. She has also collaborated with the visual artists John Wise, Kevin Labadie and James Condron.


Peter Kazaras (Stage Director) is the Director of Opera UCLA and the Inaugural Susan G. and Michel D. Covel MD Chair at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. A stage director and Professor of Music, he was also Artistic Director of the Seattle Opera Young Artists Program from 2006 to 2013. Earlier in his career, he received worldwide acclaim as an operatic tenor, performing at the Metropolitan Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin, Houston Grand Opera, San Francisco Opera, Seattle Opera, Vienna, among many others. This season, Mr. Kazaras will be directing La gazza ladra at Glimmerglass Festival and Le nozze di Figaro with Washington National Opera. In future seasons, he is slated to return to Dallas Opera.



Matt Gray