April 12, 2007
Stark locations make perfect sets for ‘Anne Frank’ opera production
(Page 2 - Previous Page)Whatever it takes accurately characterizes the situation, according to Maldjian.
"It's some of the hardest singing I've ever done," she said. "The pitches are not the easiest thing to learn. It's not atonal, but it's not quite tonal, either. It's not something that you sit down and listen to a few times and get it in your ear. Learning it has been a slow process."
Frid's score isn't the only hurdle. "Anne is young and an adult in one brain," the soprano said. "That's the tricky part, finding both aspects of her -- naive and mature.
"She knows what her future holds, so that's hard," she continued. "I'm also trying to recall when I first liked a boy, when I wrote about my friends in my journal, what it's like to be mad at your parents. Yet it's freeing playing this part. When I'm rehearsing, I escape the responsibilities of being an adult. I can just be young again."
Though Maldjian cannot draw on familial connections to the Holocaust, she can relate to genocide in a personal way.
"I'm Armenian, and I have the same history as the Jewish people," she said. "I understand from the point of view of my ancestors. I know what they went though. Of course, we can't ever really understand. Yet I feel I know Anne Frank; that I understand the sadness and hope in her heart."
Feeling the immediacy of this subject is especially important to Mitisek, whose heritage automatically connects him to the Holocaust. Though he learned about the war from his grandmother, who lived through it, he said that his homeland's coming to terms with that history remains unfinished: "There's still a lot to do in Austria and Germany about the war.
Needing to go through it, talking, working through it."
Yet Mitisek's commitment to staging "Anne Frank" goes beyond personal feelings. He considers her story to have universal appeal.
"It's like why do 'Electra' again," he said, invoking both the ancient Greek play by Sophocles and the opera by Richard Strauss. "There are so many stories that are told numerous times. Anne Frank's story is one of encouragement."
Full opera performances will take place at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 17 and Thursday, April 19 at Sinai Temple, 10400 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. Another performance is scheduled for 4p.m. Saturday, April 21, in the garage at Lincoln Park, 101 Pacific Ave., downtown Long Beach. For tickets ($15-$70) and more information, call (562) 432-5934.
The semistaged opera at Kol Ami, 1200 N. La Brea Ave, West Hollywood, will take place at 1 p.m., Sunday, April 15. $30 (members), $40 (nonmembers). For more information, call (323) 606-0996.
David Mermelstein writes about the arts for various print and online publications. :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
Actor Richard Belzer carries a photo of Anne Frank in his wallet. Click the BIG ARROW to find out why. Video courtesy Jewish TV Network.
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