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Children's opera performed in concentration camp coming to Detroit

The Michigan Opera Theatre Children’s Chorus will perform Brundibar this weekend at the Detroit Opera House. The children's opera was originally performed in a concentration camp during the Holocaust. 

In the 1940s, European Jews were sent to Theresienstadt in the Czech Republic. It was a transit camp where Jews were sent before being moved to other concentration camps, including Auschwitz.

The Nazis also used Theresienstadt in their propaganda efforts.

They highlighted a children’s opera, written by a Jewish composer, and performed by Jewish children. It was called Brundibar, which means bumblebee.

Brundibar is about two siblings who are saved from an evil street musician by a group of animals and children.  

Ela Weissberger will speak before the show on Sunday. She was a prisoner at Theresienstadt and she played the role of the cat in 55 performances inside the camp. Weissberger was 12 years old at the time.

Weissberger is currently touring the world and speaking to audiences about her experience.

For more historical context, along with the back story of Brundibar, check out this report and video from 60 Minutes.

Kyle Norris is from Michigan and spent ten years as a host and reporter with Michigan Radio, the state’s largest NPR-affiliate. He lives in Seattle and works as a substitute host and producer at KNKX.
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