|Merima Kljuco, Accordion
Ruah Edelstein, Animator
Seth Knopp, Piano
Benjamin Butterfield, Tenor
Art Rowe, Pianist
Krisztina Szabo, Mezzo-Soprano
Two stories that speak of freedom; one of a peasant boy who vanishes from his village to follow his Gypsy love, and the other of the exodus of an entire people, share extraordinary circumstances in their telling.
On May 14, 1916 the Lidové noviny (“People’s Paper”) of Brno (the Czech Republic), attributed the poems that comprise Janáček’s dramatic song-cycle The Diary of One Who Disappeared to its protagonist: “a law-abiding and industrious youth, disappeared from home in a mysterious way. At first an accident or even a crime was suspected and the imagination of the villagers was kindled. Some days later, however, a diary was found in his room, which disclosed the secret.” Eighty years later, a letter of the Czech writer Joseph Kalda revealed the poems to be his and the article in the Lidové noviny an elaborate hoax of his own devising. Part chamber opera, part song cycle, Kalda’s poetry is brought to life by tenor Benjamin Butterfield, mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabo, and pianist Arthur Rowe, through Janáček’s setting that captures the intensity of a love seeking freedom from the constraints of class and ethnicity.
A people freed from enslavement, the miraculous Jewish exodus from Egypt is the story told in the Haggadah, the book of prayer central to the ritual feast of Passover. Spanning six centuries, the breadth of Europe, and saved from destruction by people of many faiths, the history of the Sarajevo Haggadah is one that is as miraculous as the Biblical one that lies within it. Accordionist and composer Merima Ključo and animation artist Ruah Edelstein illuminate a tale of heroism in the face of violence, born out of deep respect for traditions that are not our own.