Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín, a profoundly moving multimedia concert-drama, combines the magnificent music of Verdi with video testimonials and narration, to tell the story of the courageous Jewish prisoners in the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp (Terezín) who performed the celebrated Verdi Requiem while experiencing the depths of human degradation. With only a smuggled score, they performed the famous oratorio sixteen times, including one performance before senior SS officials from Berlin and an International Red Cross delegation. Conductor Rafael Schächter told the choir: “We will sing to the Nazis what we cannot say to them.”
Created and written by Murry Sidlin, Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín features a full performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem Mass, video testimony from survivors of the original chorus, segments of the Nazi propaganda film made at Terezín in 1944, and actors to relay the impassioned story of how and why these Jewish prisoners, who faced death every day, chose to learn and perform a Latin, Catholic mass during their darkest hours.
With full orchestral accompaniment, conducted by Isaac Selya.
Vocal Direction by Kenneth Shaw, Professor of Voice at University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
Featuring the following choral ensembles:
Northern Kentucky University Chamber Choir, Katie Barton, Director
Northern Kentucky Community Chorus, Stephanie Mitchell Nash, Director
1301 Western Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45203
This concert is approximately 115 minutes with no intermission.
Presented by arrangement with The Defiant Requiem Foundation, and in collaboration with the Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center
Tickets: https://defiantrequiem.brownpapertickets.com or call 1-800-838-3006
Soprano Soloist: Mithra Mastropierro
The young soprano Mithra Mastropierro returns to Quen City Opera following her performances as Leonore in Fidelio, Brünhhilde in Siegfried, and Sieglinde in Walküre, Act 1. She was lauded by the New York Times as “an artist to watch out for.” She has sung at some of America’s most important opera houses such as The Glimmerglass Festival and the Dallas Opera. She also joined The Lyric Opera of Chicago to cover Abigaille in their recent production of Nabucco. She has sung some of the most important roles of her repertoire such as Norma, Abigaille and Tosca at the Croatian National Theater, where she received rave reviews and was hailed as “a miracle soprano with beautiful bel canto style, unbelievable range and regal stage presence.” Her other recent performances include Mimì in New Rochelle Opera’s production of La bohème.
Mithra is a major grant winner of the Olga Forrai Foundation for large dramatic voices and has received numerous scholarships and awards, among them an encouragement award by the Gerda Lissner Foundation and full scholarships to Joan Dornemann’s IVAI programs in Israel and Virginia and a full scholarship to study voice and performance at Mannes College.
Mezzo-soprano Soloist: Anahita Ahsef
Anahita Ahsef grew up in a very artistic family – her mother a flutist, her father a stage director, and her younger sister also a singer. At the age of twenty, she was asked by Brigitte Fassbaender to join the roster of the Staatstheater Braunschweig.
Her latest appearance was Senta in Der fliegende Holländer at the Ammersee, under the baton of Rainer Armbrust. At the Stadttheater Giessen, Ms. Ahsef starred as Madame Euterpova in Gian Carlo Menotti’s staging of his own opera Help, help the Globolinks. A regular guest artist at the Opernfestspiele in Erl, Austria, her most acclaimed roles include Agathe in Der Freischütz, La Contessa in Le nozze di Figaro, Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana, the title role in Iolanta, and Wagnerian roles, such as Adriano in Rienzi, Third and Second Norn in Götterdämmerung, and Brangäne in Tristan und Isolde.
Ms. Ahsef has performed under distinguished conductors, such as Philippe Auguin, Gustav Kuhn, Stefan Sanderling, Fabrizio Ventura and Prof. Cornelius Eberhardt. Among the stage directors she has worked with are Marc Adam, Philipp Harnoncourt, Brigitte Fassbaender, Georg Rootering and Gian Carlo Menotti.
She is the recipient of many grants and prizes including the Scholarship Bayreuth Festival, the Sponsorship Award Chamber Music Podium Braunschweig, and she was the first Prize Winner of the Angelica Catalani Competitition in Italy. She is a graduate of the Mozarteum, Salzburg, where she was awarded the George Szell Scholarship. Anahita Ahsef is also a prolific interpreter of art songs and has performed many recitals all over Europe. In addition, she is the Artistic Director and Producer of the ensemble KRAFTWAGEN, which combines music, theater, and art.
Tenor Soloist: M. Andrew Jones
Tenor M. Andrew Jones is dazzling audiences with his “firm, heroic” sound. After the pandemic-induced hiatus, he had a successful return to the operatic stage in Queen City Opera’s Fidelio as Jaquino in May of 2022 and was immediately followed by a world premiere of the new opera Fierce by William Menefield. Recent performances include Max in Der Freischütz and Mime in Siegfried, a role that has been repeated at Valhalla Productions in San Francisco. His other performances include Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, and Pedrillo in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, both with Queen City Opera, 1st Armored Man/Second Priest in Die Zauberflöte with Dayton Opera, The Messenger in Aida as well as the Innkeeper in Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier with Cincinnati Opera, Benny “Kid” Paret/Benny Jr. from Champion, Sellem from The Rake’s Progress with Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, Spoletta in Tosca with Cedar Rapids Opera company, and Don José in Carmen at CCM Summer Opera.
Mr. Jones has a Master’s of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Cincinnati – College Conservatory of Music and studied with Kenneth Shaw. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Music from Luther College where he studied with Ed Andereck.
Bass Soloist: Kenneth Shaw
American bass-baritone Kenneth Shaw, who has been hailed for his “strong, impassioned and lyrical” voice (Opera News), long ago established himself as one of America’s most talented and versatile artists. Now in his 42nd year as a professional singer, he has performed with opera companies throughout North America to critical acclaim. He has sung over 70 leading roles in over 50 operas, as well as concerts and recitals across America, Southeast Asia, Brazil, Canada and the United Kingdom. Shaw’s recordings include the BIS label live performance of Jenufa, as Starek, with Opera Orchestra of New York, and on ACA Digital as bass soloist in Mozart’s Requiem with the Atlanta Opera Orchestra.
Though his primary focus today is teaching aspiring professional singers at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and proudly shares the stage with several of them in this production, he remains in demand as a singer, and continues to add new roles and new companies to his long list of accomplishments.
In 2017, Mr. Shaw appeared as Old Doctor in Samuel Barber’s Vanessa with Toledo Opera, with Jennifer Rowley and Sean Pannikar. In 2018, Shaw sang 3 new roles: with Tulsa’s Signature Symphony for Shostakovich’s The Execution of Stepan Razin, as Timur in Turandot with the Kentucky Symphony with Amy Johnson, and Wotan in Das Rheingold with Pittsburg Festival Opera, garnering rave reviews. And 2019 brought another role debut as Friar Lawrence in the uniformly lauded 2019 Cincinnati Opera production of Romeo et Juliette. In April 2021, he returned to Dayton for an astonishing 17th production, as Germont in La Traviata, a role he last sang in 1987 with New York City Opera in Taipei, Taiwan. And most recently, Shaw returned to Dayton as Reverend Milton Wright in the February 2022 world premiere of Laura Kaminsky’s Finding Wright.
Lecturer (Spoken Role): Miranda McGee
Miranda McGee (AEA) is honored to be a part of this incredible experience. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Miranda went to college at Trinity University (San Antonio TX) on a drama scholarship and earned her BFA. She has worked around the U.S at various theater companies including the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Long Wharf Theatre (CT), the Howmet Playhouse (MI) and eventually landing happily in Cincinnati where she has been a Resident Ensemble Member at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company for 14 seasons. She has also worked locally with Know Theatre, The Carnegie, The Covedale, Madcap Puppets, Cincinnati Fringe Festival and Clifton Performance Theatre. She was a teaching artist at Playhouse in the Park and adjunct faculty at Xavier University and has been involved with multiple collaborations with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Cincinnati Ballet. When she is not onstage, you can find her working as a tour guide for American Legacy Tours.
She would like to thank this incredible city of Cincinnati, her family, and most of all her wonderful husband, Carter Bratton, who makes life beautiful.
Rafael Schächter (Spoken Role): Maestro Murry Sidlin
Murry Sidlin, a conductor with a unique gift for engaging audiences, continues a diverse and distinctive musical career. He is the president and creative director of The Defiant Requiem Foundation, an organization that sponsors live concert performances of Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín and Hours of Freedom: The Story of the Terezín Composer; as well as other projects including the documentary film, Defiant Requiem; a new docudrama called Mass Appeal, 1943, which was premiered in June 2017; and The Rafael Schächter Institute for Arts and Humanities at Terezín. In addition, he lectures extensively on the arts and humanities as practiced by the prisoners in the Theresienstadt (Terezín) Concentration Camp.
In April of 2002 Murry Sidlin presented the first performances of Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín in Portland, Oregon. Since the premiere, he has led nearly fifty performances. On three occasions – in May 2006, May 2009, and June 2009 – Mr. Sidlin has led performances in the Czech town of Terezín, the site of the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp. Murry Sidlin received the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Medal of Valor on June 11, 2013, for his extraordinary efforts to keep alive the memory of Rafael Schächter.