Hans Krasa's opera "Brundibar" is well known because of its extraordinary provenance. Written in 1938 it was subsequently performed 55 times in Thereseinstadt concentration camp, where Jewish composer Hans Krasa was taken and from where he and many of the young performers were never to return. After 1943 "Brundibar" gained worldwide fame becoming a symbol of resistance against the evils of fascism. Due to the increasing popularity it has been performed in Europe, Australia, and the United States.
Theresienstadt concentration camp was designated as a 'model ghetto' and was supposed to be used as a propaganda tool by the Nazis. Prominent and most talented Jewish musicians, scientists, diplomats, artists, and writers were imprisoned there. All this created conditions for an extremely rich cultural life in Terezin that consisted of concerts, recitals, stage performances, lectures, etc. In 1944 the SS decided to demonstrate Theresienstadt to the Red Cross as a 'model settlement'. Trying to hide the fact of overcrowding of Theresienstadt the Nazis deported thousands of people to Auschwitz. On June 23, 1944 the Red Cross delegation visited a school, a theater, a hospital, cafes, a kindergarten, and also attended a performance of the opera 'Brundibar '. This was the last of the fifty-five performances in the Terezin ghetto. Several days later, the deportation of the artists silenced the most popular production in Terezin.
'Brundibar' performance history cannot be traced from 1944 to 1975. Thanks to the efforts of Joza Karas, a Polish-born Czech violinist living in the United States, 'Brundibar' was introduced to the English-speaking world, premiering in the United States in 1975, with the English premiere in 1977 in Canada and the German premiere taking place in 1985. Karas and his wife Milada provided the first English translation, published by Tempo Praha in 1993 (revised in 1998).
Recently, the 'Brundibar' opera was premiered at the Teatro Regio (Turin, Italy), the Southbank Centre ( London , United Kingdom),the Oper Graz (Graz, Austria), the Teatro Real (Madrid, Spain), the Opera de Lyon (Lyon, France).
In 2015, to mark the 70th Anniversary of the Great Victory, “Brundibar” was introduced in Russia. The Volgograd Music Theatre and a brand new Moscow Philarmonia-2 Concert Hall hosted the first opera performances in Russian. In 2016 “Brundibar” was premiered at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in Saint-Petersburg.
The Russian translation of 'Brundibar' is provided by a famous poet Lilia Vinogradova, also known for her collaboration with Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Anna Netrebko, Lara Fabian, Sumi Jo.
“Brundibar” is staged by Mstislav Pentkovskiy, widely recognized as one of the leading stage directors of his generation. After the graduation from the Russian Academy of Theater Arts he staged a range of productions for Russian theatres. He was the first stage director who brought Hans Krasa’s opera “Brundibar” to Russia. He has already staged “Brundibar” for the Volgograd Music Theater, the Moscow Philharmonic society, the Mikhailovsky Theatre (Saint-Petersburg).
His future and recent engagements include Tchaikovsky’s “Queen of Spades” (Moscow Philarmonic society, Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra), Stravinsky’s “Rake’s progress” , Ananiev’s “Squaring the Circle” (both productions – Open Stage Moscow Theatre), Bach’s “St.Jhon Passion” (Moscow Conservatoire), Frid’s “Diary of Anne Frank” (Mariinsky Theatre).
In 2016 Mstislav Pentkovskiy won the Young Opera Directors Competition at the Mariinsky Theatre.