Thick House, ScolaVox and First Look Sonoma present the World Premiere of a chamber opera, a surreal, dark comedy starring John Duykers as Winston Churchill. The setting is Moscow, 1942, Churchill's first meeting with Stalin, as seen through the eyes of Stalin's daughter, Svetlana. Only 6 performances- Limited Seating.
Churchill first visited the Kremlin and met Stalin and his 16-year old daughter Svetlana. She was there, a witness to the all-night debacle, when these two iconic men first cut the deal that sealed the fate of the world. Set against these historic events, in a thrilling adventure for a schoolgirl, Svetlana Stalin at 16, fell in love with an older man, Alexei Kapler, a dashing intellectual, screenwriter, and married man. Their brief affair brought Svetlana forward quickly into adulthood and infuriated her father. With his "Death solves all problems: No man, no problem" methods, Stalin sentenced his daughter's lover to prison in a labor camp.Svetlana grew more distant and distrustful, and later defected to the West to become an American citizen. Known in the US as Lana Peters, she died 2011, living in obscurity in Wisconsin. Daughter of the Red Tzar is her story.
The opera is set in August of 1942, when the valiant Brits have suffered the bombing of the Battle of Britain, and Hitler has invaded Russia. Although Churchill loathed the communist state, and was aware of its mass murder and forced starvation, he needed Stalin to hold the Eastern Front and defend his Persian oil fields for England to survive the war. Stalin felt isolated and betrayed by everyone and wanted to impress Churchill. He shows off his daughter to appear a reputable family man.
Composer Lisa Scola-Prosek first imagined this opera reading Churchill's and Svetlana's memoirs, and working with director, Melissa Weaver, drew from historical sources to fashion a libretto that is poetic, surreal and absurdly comic. Thick House Theater in San Francisco, will provide an intimate setting for this love story set amidst paranoid secrecy and wartime intrigue.
Acclaimed tenor John Duykers stars as the enigmatic prime minister Winston Churchill. With melodramatic pugnacity, baritone Scott Graff tackles the elusive Marshall Stalin and mezzo-soprano Valentina Osinski portrays the haunted ghost of Stalin's suicide wife Nadya. As the daughter Svetlana, mezzo-soprano Crystal Phillippi makes an important debut in the world premiere, and bass-baritone Philip Skinner woos her as the opportunistic yet brave Kapler. Martha Stoddard conducts and Melissa Weaver directs.
The modern yet lyrical musical score draws upon the rich cultures of Georgia, Britain and Russia, with folk classics from the Soviet era. A chamber ensemble features violin, cello,bass, accordion,and percussion.
Thick House Theater (View)
1695 18th Street
San Francisco, CA 94107