The San Diego Symphony Orchestra will perform the concert-drama “Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezin,” the story of how Jewish prisoners in a Nazi concentration camp performed Verdi’s famous Requiem Mass.
With only a smuggled score, the Jews at Theresienstadt performed the famous oratorio sixteen times, including one performance before senior SS officials from Berlin and a Red Cross delegation. Conductor Rafael Schachter told the choir, “We will sing to the Nazis what we cannot say to them.”
The two-hour performance presented by the Anti-Defamation League San Diego includes the magnificent music of Verdi with testimony from survivors of the original chorus and footage from a Nazi propaganda film. During the performance, actors will speak the words of Schachter and other prisoners.
Prisoners at the camp in what is now the Czech Republic used a smuggled score. Schachter was forced to reconstitute the choir three times as members were transported to the Auschwitz death camp. The performances in 1943 and 1944 came to symbolize resistance and defiance, answering the worst of mankind with the best of mankind.
The San Diego performance will be at at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 7, at Copley Symphony Hall downtown. Tickets are available online.
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