Enemies, A Love Story

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Enemies, A Love Story

by Ben Moore | Libretto by Nahma Sandrow

David Stern, Conductor

Mary Birnbaum, Director

 

Friday, November 9 at 8 PM

Sunday, November 11 at 2 PM

Sung in English with projected English supertitles

Two Wives. One Mistress.

Two Wives. One Mistress.

Secrets and lies.  That’s the life of Herman Broder, ghostwriter for a famous rabbi in 1948 New York.  Herman escaped from the Nazis thanks to his current wife who hid him in a hayloft.  But he’s really in love with his mistress, a concentration camp survivor, whom he also marries.  And then his first wife – who supposedly died in the Holocaust – suddenly reappears!

Watch what happens when everybody finally meets in this darkly funny and deeply moving tale of hope, guilt, and despair. Can a man who has learned to hide truly come out of hiding?  Can survivors love again?

A brilliant new opera based on the novel by I. B. Singer, which also inspired an award-winning movie. Featured as part of Kentucky Opera’s Composer Workshop in the fall of 2009 and the fall of 2011.

Cast & Creative

Conductor

David Stern*

 

*Kentucky Opera debut

David Stern’s buoyant musical direction buttresses … an exhilarating, superbly cast and imaginatively directed spectacle.

Palm Beach Daily News

Stage Director

Mary Birnbaum*

 

*Kentucky Opera debut

Mary Birnbaum’s thoughtful direction was rich with imaginative touches.

Opera Magazine

Herman Broder

Morgan Smith

 

Kentucky local, and last seen in Kentucky Opera’s 2017-2018 production of Dead Man Walking.

Phenomenal in KO’s Dead Man Walking, he’s renowned for his “rugged good looks, striking intelligence, charismatic stage presence, and a powerful baritone of mingled velvet and steel.”

Opera News

Tamara

Catherine Martin*

*Kentucky Opera debut

This mesmerizing mezzo appears with major companies, including Lyric Opera of Chicago, where she dazzles with “her warm, gorgeous voice.”

Washington Post

Yadwiga

Emily Albrink

Kentucky native, and last seen in Kentucky Opera’s 2017-2018 production of Dead Man Walking.

Hailed by The New York Times as “delightful and vocally strong and versatile,” this Kentucky favorite has sung with major conductors, including Placido Domingo and James Levine.

Masha

Danielle Pastin*

*Kentucky Opera debut

Starring as Masha in the world premiere, “her voice was amazingly supple with purity that reflected her character’s naivete.”

Nashville Arts

Shifrah Puah

Elizabeth Batton

Kentucky native, and last seen in Kentucky Opera’s 2017-2018 production of Ariadne auf Naxos.

“…a vocal powerhouse of dark, burnished bronze, seamless throughout its range, a steady flow of gorgeous sound.”

Opera News

Rabbi Lampert

Levi Hernandez*

*Kentucky Opera debut

Hernandez has a “large voice that pleases the ear.”

Berkshirefinearts.com

Production Sponsor

Claudi W. Muir

Conductor Sponsor

Know Before You Go

Courtesy of https://pbopera.org/event/enemies-a-love-story/

The curtain rises on a small Brooklyn apartment in 1948. Herman Broder, a Polish Jewish writer and intellectual, is lost in an anxious daydream until his wife, Yadwiga, rouses him.  Soon Herman is singing a playful folksong as he bids her an affectionate farewell. (Little Bird) Yadwiga, a Polish farmer’s daughter, saved Herman from the Nazis by hiding him for years in her father’s hayloft. After the war Herman married her out of gratitude. Yadwiga believes Herman is leaving for a sales trip, but he is actually sneaking off to the Bronx, where he keeps the mistress he adores, a beautiful, tempestuous refugee named Masha. (“My Love Remembers”)

Next morning, at breakfast with Masha’s mother, Herman finds a Personals notice in the newspaper which leads him to an apartment on the Lower East Side. There he is astonished to find Tamara, his first wife, reported to have been killed in the war along with their two children.  Tamara shares with him the harrowing odyssey of her escape (“Tamara’s  aria”).  She understands Herman all too well and after learning of Yadwiga and Masha, offers to divorce him. But the warmth of their shared history bonds the pair in spite of themselves. Meanwhile Yadwiga loyally defends her husband against nosy neighbors though secretly she yearns to keep him home (“Yadwiga’s Aria”).  And Masha manages to convince Herman to marry her as well (in a Jewish ceremony complete with dancing). Herman is juggling three very different women, and cares for them all. The painful farce accelerates as Herman hides Tamara from Masha, both Tamara and Masha from Yadwiga – and all three wives from his employer, a jovial rabbi for whom he ghostwrites speeches.

Herman can seem lighthearted – protective with Yadwiga, humorous with Tamara, and romantic with Masha – but his head is full of philosophical ruminations, childhood memories, and nightmare flashbacks to the hayloft; and his heart is full of guilt.  When Masha’s embittered ex-husband convinces him that Masha is false, Herman’s revulsion against her lies explodes into revulsion against the entire corrupt human race – including himself. (“Lies”) He vows to leave the isolating “hayloft” of all his hidden lives and become a decent, pious man, a faithful husband to  Yadwiga, and a father. The curtain falls on their domestic bliss. (“Baby Waltz”)

At the start of Act Two the three women, each in her separate apartment, sing about the future. (“Trio”) We see that Yadwiga is indeed pregnant. But past lies continue to surface, and the farce darkens as the wives, neighbors, and even the rabbi collide. Herman has managed to stay away from Masha but at last, desperate, she lures him to her apartment where, as her mother prays, she pleads her lost youth and innocence, destroyed by the war. (“Prayer”) He is hers again. Meanwhile Tamara defends Yadwiga, who feels Herman slipping away. But Herman cannot give Masha up. The entire rouse comes crashing down at the rabbi’s holiday party where Herman and Masha’s passions flare in counterpoint to a cheerful chorus praising God, life, and food.

(“Miracles)  Ultimately the lovers cannot stay apart. They plan to run away to Florida sunshine, leaving stalwart Tamara to take care of Yadwiga and the baby. However, when Masha takes her mother to the hospital, leaving Herman alone to pack, he cannot go on. Longing for the past overwhelms him; before the war and the dark hayloft; back when he was a good man; further back, when he was a beloved child in an orderly world; back to the silent darkness before creation itself. Guilt-ridden and weary, he realizes that he is incapable of making a life with anyone.

(“Herman’s Final Scene”) He walks out forever. Masha returns, her mother having died; she sees that he is gone and takes her own life. In the final image, Tamara and Yadwiga are together caring for the newborn child.

Ben Moore
Courtesy of http://www.mooreart.com/music/biography

The music of American composer Ben Moore includes art song, opera, musical theatre, cabaret, chamber music, choral music and comedy material. His work has been called “brilliant” and “gorgeously lyrical” by the New York Times while Opera News has praised the “easy tunefulness” and “romantic sweep” of his songs. Singers who have performed his work include Deborah Voigt, Susan Graham, Frederica von Stade, Isabel Leonard, Lawrence Brownlee, Robert White, Nathan Gunn and Audra McDonald.

Moore composed the scores for three operas including Enemies, a Love Story which premiered at Palm Beach Opera in 2015 and will be seen at Kentucky Opera in November 2018. Based on the novel by Isaac Bashevis Singer, with a libretto by Nahma Sandrow, the opera has been called “an important new work that will find its place among those works that audiences will be moved by…” (Fred Plotkin/WQXR). Odyssey and Robin Hood are youth operas commissioned by the Glimmerglass Festival with librettos by Kelley Rourke.  Odyssey premiered at Glimmerglass in 2015 and has since been seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Minnesota Opera. Opera News called it “an opera for all ages” with an “ebullient and lyrical” score (See complete review here). The work returns to Glimmerglass in August 2018. Robin Hood premiered at Glimmerglass in August 2017, was seen at Seattle Opera in February 2018, and will be presented by Houston Grand Opera in June 2018.

Ben’s songs can be heard on Deborah Voigt’s All My Heart (EMI) with eight Moore works, Nathan Gunn’s Just Before Sunrise (SonyBMG), Lawrence Brownlee’s This Heart that Flutters (Opus Arte) and Susan Graham at Carnegie Hall (Warner Classics). Dear Theo (Delos records) features three of Ben’s song cycles. These include Dear Theo, based on the letters of Vincent van Gogh; So Free Am I, on poems by women; and Ode to a Nightingale, a setting of John Keats’ great poem. Read the Opera News review here.

In 2006 the Metropolitan Opera featured two of his comedy songs in a gala broadcast nationally. 2006 also saw the release of the volume “Ben Moore: 14 Songs” published by G. Schirmer. Reviewing the album, Classical Singer Magazine wrote: “…you can find a breath of fresh air in the settings included in this volume… This composer is not afraid of the past, but rather embraces many of the most beautiful aspects of his artistic heritage while imbuing his work with its own personal colors and tones.”

Born on January 2, 1960, in Syracuse, New York, Moore grew up in Clinton, New York and graduated from Hamilton College. With an MFA from The Parsons School of Design, Ben also pursues a career as a painter.

Nahma Sandrow
Courtesy of http://www.nahmasandrow.com/

Nahma Sandrow’s Vagabond Stars: A World History of Yiddish Theater is now in its third edition and remains the definitive work in the field.  Her other books include God, Man, and Devil: Yiddish Plays in Translation and Surrealism: Theater, Arts, Ideas. In addition, she has written feature articles for the New York Times, the New York Sun, ARTnews, and other newspapers, magazines and journals.

The opera Enemies, A Love Story (based on I.B. Singer’s novel), for which she wrote the libretto with composer Ben Moore, will have its world premiere at the Palm Beach Opera in February, 2015.  Dr. Sandrow won the Outer Critics Circle Award for the book of the musical Kuni-Leml. Other theater credits include the adaptation of her prize-winning history Vagabond Starsfor the stage, and many translations, several of which have been produced.  She is the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Research Foundations of both the State University of New York and the City University of New York. A PEN-nominated grant from the New York State Council on the Arts supported her translation of Shulamis, a classic Yiddish operetta, which was subsequently performed at Harvard University.

Dr. Sandrow lectures widely. She has spoken at universities such as Harvard and Oxford, as well as at the Smithsonian Institution and many other academic and cultural organizations. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and the Yale School of Drama.

Film Screening of Enemies, A Love Story – November 4
I.B. Singer’s Enemies, A Love Story Book Club – October 28
Opera Unwrapped: Enemies, a Love Story – November 11
Pre-Show Bites – November 11
Enemies, A Love Story Cast Party – November 9
Opera Preview: Enemies, A Love Story – November 9
Pre-Show Bites – November 9
Final Student Dress Rehearsal – November 7
Lunch and Listen – November 1
Library Lecture Series – October 17

The Cast

Herman Broder
Morgan Smith

Tamara
Catherine Martin*

Yadwiga
Emily Albrink

Masha
Danielle Pastin*

Shifrah Puah
Elizabeth Batton

Rabbi Lampert
Levi Hernandezz*

Nissen
T.J. Capobianco^

Sheva Haddas/Hannah
Murrella Parton^

Leah
Reilly Nelson^

Design Team

Director
Mary Birnbaum*

Set Designer
Grace Laubacher

Lighting Designer
Anshuman Bhatia

*Kentucky Opera debut
^Kentucky Opera Studio Artist