Douglas Wolfsperger gives his inspiring documentary Brundibár a wonderfully novelistic texture. His superb pacing moves easily from cast introductions for Berlin’s Schaubühne Theater’s youth production of this opera to rehearsals and the premiere. Czech composer Hans Krasa based Brundibár on a tale by Aristophanes. Krasa refined his 1938 children’s opera while in the “model” concentration camp Theresienstadt, where it was performed 55 times. Footage of the opera appears in the Nazi propaganda film The Fuhrer Gives the Jews a City, shown to the Red Cross to hide the camp’s deadly conditions. Krasa was murdered in Auschwitz, as were most of the children who sang in the opera. Despite mandatory Holocaust education in German schools today, the Schaubühne Theater’s youth educator Uta Plate knows that “history” can seem dry, and that students can tire of it. She manages to bring her actors to Terezin together with octogenarian Israeli Greta Klingsberg, who played the lead role of Aninka in Theresienstadt as a 13-year-old, before being shipped to Auschwitz. The lively and spirited Klingsberg, one of the few remaining original cast members, bonds easily with Schaubühne cast members, themselves outsiders in German society. Klingsberg’s forthright engagement and optimism make the young cast members wonder how Germany can convey its past to future generations without survivor participation. World Premiere
w/English Subtitle
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