Gay Holo­caust sur­vivor at cen­ter of new opera

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Work­ing with com­poser Jake Heg­gie on the op­eras “Three De­cem­bers” and “Dead Man Walk­ing” had been such a sat­is­fy­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for At­lanta Opera’s artis­tic di­rec­tor Tomer Zvu­lun that he was al­ways look­ing to do so again. The two are now col­lab­o­rat­ing on the world pre­miere of the gay-themed “Out of Dark­ness: Two Re­main,” pre­sented by the At­lanta Opera at The­atri­cal Out­fit next week.

The new work, deal­ing with real life Holo­caust sur­vivors haunted by ghosts of the past, is di­vided into two acts. In the first, Krystyna Zy­wul­ska talks to a jour­nal­ist about her days in cap­tiv­ity, and in the sec­ond, Gad Beck re­ceives a visit from his male lover, Man­fred Lewin.

Zvu­lun has known about this pro­ject a long time.

“Jake told me five years ago he was work­ing on a piece about the Holo­caust and sto­ries of sur­vival and re­silience, deal­ing with the gay com­mu­nity and the Jewish com­mu­nity,” he said. “My in­ter­est was piqued. When I read the li­bretto by Gene Scheer and heard the mu­sic, I be­came ob­sessed with the piece.”

In the opera, Gad Beck is an 80-some­thing gay Jewish man who can­not sleep at night.

“He re­mem­bers his love, a 19-year-old beau­ti­ful boy, who was ex­e­cuted dur­ing the Holo­caust,” said Zvu­lun. “He was part of 100,000 LGBT folks who were in­car­cer­ated and forced to wear a pink tri­an­gle. A lot of them were killed be­cause of who they were and who they loved.”

As an Is­raeli man, Zvu­lun — who is di­rect­ing the pro­duc­tion as part of his Dis­cov­er­ies se­ries — grew up hear­ing sto­ries about the Holo­caust, but was not fa­mil­iar with how the gay com­mu­nity was per­se­cuted dur­ing the time.

Heg­gie, who is gay, has been work­ing on the pro­ject since 2006, when he was com­mis­sioned by a group in Seat­tle called Mu­sic of Re­mem­brance, whose artis­tic di­rec­tor had al­ways wanted to do a piece about the per­se­cu­tion of gays in the Holo­caust.

“I didn’t know much about it,” he said. “I took it on think­ing there was a wealth of in­for­ma­tion to work with and I found that

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