Somtow Sucharitkul’s opera Helena Citrónová, based on an Auschwitz prisoner’s relationship with an SS guard, has opened in the Bavarian town of Hof in Germany.
As Director Lothar Krause describes it: “Sucharitkul’s work asks questions to which there are no answers: What exactly was the love between Helena Citrónová and Franz Wunsch? Did love make the SS man a better person? And Helena a traitor? Did this connection save lives or only prolong the suffering of the survivors?”
Somtow calls it a “staggering German production” and says, “It’s a big breakthrough for my work, being seriously talked about in European opera circles these days. It’s running for 6 or 7 more performances, until November 20.”
Present at the opening were many of his international friends from the music and sff communities, and they ran a mini OperaCon at the hotel across from the opera house with a panel discussion, a tour of the theater and much else.
The opera was composed to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army, and first performed in Thailand in 2020, where the production was partially sponsored by Thailand’s ministry of culture and the Israeli, Austrian and German embassies. The original performance was in English. A special German translation was made for the current production, and the text is online here.