WALLENBERG

But we have Wallenberg

I’m in the final week of rehearsals for a contemporary opera Wallenberg by the Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tüür, who was apparently a member of a leading Estonian avante-garde rock band.

It’s a pretty intense piece, not only from the music (it’s got a big orchestra and lots of percussion… it’s pretty loud!) but the story. It’s based around the figure of Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who saved around one hundred thousand Jews in Budapest from the Nazis by issuing them with Swedish passports. He was taken prisoner by the Soviets on suspicion of espionage, and never heard from again.

There’s some thought provoking stuff in there. I sing a couple of small parts, and in the second scene, as Wallenberg is being asked to undertake this mission, hesitating because “ich bin nur eine” (there’s only one of me) I offer the cynical line that, yes, what is happening to the Jews is terrible, but “ist es unser Problem?” (is it our problem?)

Here’s a clip from the production at Estonian National Opera – their production is much crazier and more absurdist than ours (I won’t give any details away until it opens). My other small role is an American soldier, and you can actually hear the part at the 6:33 mark:

 

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