Monday, March 26, 2018

Boston Playwrights’ Theatre presents the North American premiere of The Rosenbergs (An Opera)

Boston Playwrights’ Theatre presents the North American premiere
of The Rosenbergs (An Opera)

BOSTON – Boston Playwrights’ Theatre (BPT) concludes its 2017-18 season with the presentation of a special event, the North American premiere of The Rosenbergs (An Opera), produced by Boston University and Brandeis University.

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

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.

The Rosenbergs is BPT’s first foray into opera, and I’m excited for this production for many reasons. First, the Rosenbergs’ papers are housed at the Howard Gotlieb Archives here at BU, so it makes perfect sense that we would want to support this award-winning opera,” Kate Snodgrass, Artistic Director of Boston Playwrights’ Theatre says. “Furthermore, this story couldn’t be more relevant to today’s political climate—we must remember our past in order to preserve our future. Rhea, our librettist, has been a friend of mine for years, and I wanted very much to support her work here in the States—both she and Joachim are experienced and gifted theatre artists. But the bottom line is…I love the story. It’s 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. Oftentimes when we read the newspapers, 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.”

Composer Holbek and librettist Lehman have worked together as theatre and television producers for 35 years. Holbeck is best known for his film scores, most notably Lars von Trier’s Medea. He has composed music for more than 50 film and theater productions. Leman is an award-winning director and playwright (Gorilla); her plays have been performed throughout Europe and the U.S. The Rosenbergs is her first opera.

Director Troyanovsky’s recent area credits include Charlotte’s Web for American Repertory Theater and Exit the King with Actors’ Shakespeare Project. He directed Tchaikovsky’s Evgeny Onegin at Opera Idaho, conducted by Grammy nominee Sara Jobin. Music Director Catt has extensive international experience as a performer. In addition to credits as a music director and vocal coach both in the U.S. and abroad, she is the author of The Kinesthetic Singer: Lessons on Singing from Yoga and Basketball

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.

The Rosenbergs (An Opera)
Music by Joachim Holbek
Libretto by Rhea Leman
Directed by Dmitry Troyanovsky
Musical Direction by Cristi Catt

April 12-22, 2018
Thurs. 7:30 p.m., Fri. and Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 2 p.m.

It’s 1953 Cold War USA, and Ethel and Julius Rosenberg have been accused of atomic espionage and sentenced to death. In this most famous spy case of the 20th century, and leading into the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) Senate hearings, the Rosenbergs’ love affair broke all bounds. Recognized as Denmark’s Best Opera of 2015, this tragic love story is adapted from the Rosenbergs’ letters from jail. As seen through the lens of the McCarthy witch hunts, echoes of which can still be heard today, it begs the question to all of us: “Would you die for love?”
A North American premiere co-produced by Boston University and Brandeis University, presented by Boston Playwrights’ Theatre.
The Rosenbergs is generously supported by the Elie Wiesel Center for Jewish Studies at Boston University, the Jewish Cultural Endowment at Boston University, the Brandeis Arts Council, the Boston University Center for the Humanities, and through an arts grant from the BU Arts Initiative—Office of the Provost.
Free to all students, faculty, and staff of Boston University and Brandeis University. Regular ticket prices: Adults ($30); Seniors-62+ ($25); Students with valid ID ($10)
Call 866.811.4111 or visit Additional dates at Brandeis University. For more information, visit

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