And the Rat Laughed

Theatre in Music Chamber Opera (With English Subtitles)
Based on a book by Nava Semel
Music: Ella Milch-Sheriff
Libretto: Nava Semel and Ella Milch-Sheriff

And the Rat Laughed is an original Opera in Hebrew based on Nava Semel's book, published in 2001 to rave reviews, and Israeli composer Ella Milch-Sheriff's original music. This five-part daring novel dealing with the horrors of the Holocaust and the influence of this harrowing chapter of human history was highly praised for its courage in employing original and unconventional devices and literary tools. This is the story of a nameless five-year-old child, as it is told to her granddaughter years later. The child's parents entrust her to a family of farmers living in a remote Polish village. She is hidden in a dark potato cellar, with little food and only a rat for company - and raped repeatedly by the farmers' son.

When the girl's parents no longer send money, the farmer's wife takes her to the village priest, urging him to kill her. But Father Stanislaw hides the Jewish girl in his church and risks his life in healing her wounded body and broken soul. Sixty years later, already a grandmother in Tel Aviv, she tries to recount her horrific childhood to her grand-daughter who prepares a school essay. Memory, buried in the darkness for so long, demands its right to emerge. The five genres of the book: story, legend, poetry, futuristic fantasy and a diary, are entwined to create the libretto.

Lima Energely, an anthropologist in the year 2099 is bent on uncovering the origins of the widespread myth "Girl & Rat" and she is the main figure in the opera who reveals on stage the circle of Remembearers, those who have the traumatic event registered in their consciousness. Futuristic Lima tries to force the memory on her partner Stash, who bears the same name of the rat who was once the only comfort of the hidden girl. The highlight of the opera is a Mass scene, when Father Stanislaw rebels against his Lord who abandoned his children. In an attempt to restore the girl's hope and her faith, the priest discovers he has lost his own.

The opera is 1 hour and 35 minutes long, played by The Israeli Chamber Orchestra and conducted by Ori Leshman.
Director: Oded Kotler. The opera is sung with English subtitles.
Opening night April 9, 2005 to rave reviews. On May 8th 2006 it was performed at the Dramatic Theatre of Warsaw. On June 2008 it was be performed in the Theatre Festival in Sibiu Romania and the National Theatre in Bucharest.
New Production in Canada - Opera York, Toronto, November 2009.

The Opera in Canada

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