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Monday, April 09, 2018

First performance of The Rosenbergs (An Opera) April 12 Cast, post-show conversation announced

First performance of The Rosenbergs (An Opera) April 12
Cast, post-show conversation announced

BOSTON – Performances of the North American premiere of The Rosenbergs (An Opera) begin this week. The special event is produced by Boston University and Brandeis University, and presented by Boston Playwrights’ Theatre (BPT).

This tragic love story—set during the United States’ Communist witch-hunt of the 1950s—is based on the lives of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were executed for atomic espionage. The Rosenbergs was recognized as Denmark’s Best Opera of 2015 by online journal Copenhagen Culture.

Christie Lee Gibson and Brian Church portray Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. Gibson is a performer, director, and the General Director of OperaHub. Locally, she’s been seen in The Edge of Peace at Central Square Theater and in OperaHub’s The Four-Note Opera and L’Incoronazione di Poppea, among others. Church is a longtime member of the Choir at King’s Chapel and the Cantata Singers, who has appeared in numerous productions with Guerilla Opera and other area groups. Church teaches piano, guitar, bass, and voice at Music 101 Studios in Melrose.

Running from April 12-22, the opera features a score by Joachim Holbek and a libretto by Rhea Leman. Dmitry Troyanovsky directs, with musical direction by Cristi Catt.

Librettist Leman grew up in post-McCarthy era New York City, the child of Jewish left wing activists. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were often mentioned at the dinner table, and years later Leman would find herself searching for a meaning and reason behind the Rosenbergs’ decisions and actions as she worked to bring their story to the stage.

“I knew about their political motives but what I discovered was their tremendous love and commitment to each other,” Leman says. “Their love became my key to the writing.”

BPT Artistic Director Kate Snodgrass describes The Rosenbergs as “moving and alive without being overtly political, and it speaks to Ethel and Julius’s relationship—which is something that gets short-shrift when we think of this period in our nation’s history. . .We forget that there are real people behind these big stories—people with dreams and loves and deep fears just like us. Whether we think of the Rosenbergs as heroes or traitors, in the end they were people living out a tragic love story.”

A post-show conversation with Snodgrass, Holbek, Leman, Troyanovsky, Catt and the cast will follow the April 14 performance. After the conclusion of The Rosenbergs’s run at BPT, the production will move to Brandeis University for three performances there.