City Opera Vancouver Satirizes 1930s Berlin in New Production

If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to enjoy more arts and culture in Vancouver, you’re in luck since there’s plenty in store during the beginning of 2020.

City Opera Vancouver, a local company that specializes in chamber opera, has an upcoming show that offers a timely message about the dangers of rising intolerance and the potential for brave voices to transgress an oppressive political regime.

From January 23 to 26, 2020, City Opera Vancouver premieres BERLIN: The Last Cabaret (BERLIN) at Performance Works (1218 Cartwright St.) on Granville Island as part of the city’s exciting and diverse PuSh International Performing Arts Festival.

Directed and co-created by Alan Corbishley, with a libretto by Joanna Garfinkel and in association with Sound the Alarm: Music/Theatre, BERLIN transports audiences to Nazi Germany but, nonetheless, has a message that City Opera Vancouver feels also speaks to our current political/social climate.

It takes place on July 13, 1934, when Hitler publicly broadcast news of the Night of the Long Knives, a purge of over 85 members of the Sturmabteilung (SA), a purge that occurred without due legal process and that aimed to destroy potential political threats to his power.

In the face of such brutality and dramatic power display, a small underground cabaret troupe, composed of five singers, offers a glimmer of hope and resistance within BERLIN. They will be played by a talented and diverse group of actors: Julia Munčs, Meaghan Chenosky, Alen Dominguez, Brent Hirose, and Dan Deorksen. The production focuses on the troupe’s moral dilemma: should they stay silent for survival or voice their critique of what is happening around them.

Charles Barber, Artistic Directory of City Opera, characterizes BERLIN as “a tribute to the art and culture of the Weimar Republic” and its positive changes in relation to gender and sexuality. This daring and risky period is then contrasted with the rigidity of Hitler’s fascism.

The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Francis Bruguière, Sebastian Droste in a still from the movie The Way, 1923 – 1925; Gelatin silver print; Image: 24.4 × 18.9 cm (9 5/8 × 7 7/16 in.) Sheet: 24.8 × 19.2 cm (93/4 × 7 9/16 in.) [irregular].

In a production within a production, the cabaret troupe mounts a work called The Front Page that challenges repressive state propaganda, such as the labeling of gay individuals as “degenerates.” However, the announcement of the SA purge forces the troupe to reassess their decision to act and sing out dissent.

The narrative addresses very serious themes, but does so in a darkly humorous way. As well, BERLIN will have a uplifting quality through its performance and celebration of original songs from Weimar Republic cabarets, a type of cabaret that was known for its satirical leanings. The singers will be accompanied by a four-person band: François Houle, clarinets; Ed Henderson, banjo, ukulele, and guitar; Martin Fisk, percussion; and Roger Parton, keyboard.

Prepare to be entertained, thoughtfully provoked, and hopefully inspired by the ability of music and creative production to fight back against prejudice and abuses of power.

More info and tickets can be found on-line.

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One Response to City Opera Vancouver Satirizes 1930s Berlin in New Production

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