Tickets now are on sale for the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago's gala presentation of "Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezin," a remarkable multimedia production that makes its Chicago premiere Thursday, March 23, at Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave.
Created by Maestro Murry Sidlin, "Defiant Requiem" commemorates the story of how, in the depths of the Holocaust, within the notorious Terezin (Theresienstadt) concentration camp, one man's dream gave birth to an unparalleled act of defiance and hope.
The production combines full orchestra and concert choir with elements of on-stage drama, video interviews and authentic film from the era. The Chicago performance, which Sidlin will conduct, features actors Jeremy Piven and Tovah Feldshuh, the Chicago Philharmonic, the Chicago Vocal Artists Ensemble conducted by Cheryl Frazes Hill, soprano Jennifer Check, mezzo-soprano Ann McMahon Quintero, tenor Zach Borichevsky and bass Nathan Stark.
The local presentation is a one-time effort to raise significant funds for the Federation's Holocaust Community Services program. Lead sponsors are the Crown Family and Pritzker Family Philanthropic Fund, which have underwritten all productions costs. 100 percent of all other gifts and proceeds will go directly to support Holocaust survivors in need.
Tickets for the Chicago performance can be purchased at JUF.org/DefiantRequiemTickets .
Sponsorship opportunities also are available. For information on those, call Rachel Sternberg at (312) 444-2893.
The Chicago premiere is chaired by Virginia and Norman Bobins and Karyn and Bill Silverstein.
"Defiant Requiem" brings to life the tale of Raphael Schächter, a young conductor deported to Terezin from Prague, who organized a chorus of 150 fellow prisoners that, from a single smuggled score, mastered Verdi's two-hour "Requiem Mass." Despite suffering from hunger, disease, and forced labor, the prisoners performed the famous oratorio 16 times in the camp-including one concert before senior SS officers and a Red Cross delegation.
When sung by prisoners rather than worshippers, the words of the requiem became a condemnation of the Nazis. Confronting their captors face to face, these Jews sang to the Nazis what they could not say.
Since its debut in 2002, "Defiant Requiem" has been experienced by some 65,000 people across the United States and around the globe, most notably in New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., Budapest, Prague, Berlin, Jerusalem-and on the grounds of Terezín.
The Chicago area is home to more than 6,000 Holocaust survivors who, in addition to the physical, psychological and financial challenges faced by many seniors, must deal with a wide range of issues unique to their experiences.
The Jewish Federation's Holocaust Community Services program provides safety-net services to rescue many of them from material and social poverty. HCS delivers food, medical care, dental care, financial aid, and in-home care to Holocaust survivors in need, and creates a sense of extended family and community among survivors through regular socialization opportunities and weekly support groups.