The Pope's jews
During the Holocaust, two sets of forced conversions from Judaism to Catholicism were presided over by the Pope. These were Jewish children who were being safeguarded by Catholics. The children were kidnapped and forced into baptisms. The many stories surrounding these scandals will be the focus of this opera which will make use of the traditional music of the Jews of Rome.
Yotam Haber, Composer
Royce Vavrek, Librettist
Anna Schuleit Haber, Scenic Designer
Yotam Haber was born in Holland and grew up in Israel, Nigeria, and Milwaukee. He is the winner of the 2020 Azrieli Music Prize, a 2017 Koussevitzky Commission for the Library of Congress, a 2007 Rome Prize, and a 2005 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship.
Royce Vavrek is a Canada-born, Brooklyn-based librettist and lyricist who has been called “the indie Hofmannsthal” (The New Yorker) a “Metastasio of the downtown opera scene” (The Washington Post), and “an exemplary creator of operatic prose”.
Anna Schuleit Haber is a visual artist whose work lies at the intersection of painting, drawing, installation art, architecture, stage, and community. She studied painting at the Rhode Island School of Design and was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard. She was named a MacArthur Fellow for work that has “conceptual clarity, compassion, and beauty.”
The pope's jews
with Mark Streshinsky, Mary Chun & Emilie Whelan
Artist Interviews: Interstate
InFocus Issue 3
The Pope's Jews
Get to know them: First Opera Stories
previous work samples
Composer yotam haber introduces
the voice imitator scene: in rome
Librettist royce vavrek introduces
designer Anna Schuleit Haber introduces
ser du mig (Do you see me )
the voice imitator scene: in rome
ser du mig (Do you see me )
Yotam Haber Bio:
His music hailed by New Yorker critic Alex Ross as “deeply haunting,” by the Los Angeles Times as one of five classical musicians "2014 Faces To Watch," and chosen as one of the “30 composers under 40” by Orpheus Chamber Orchestra’s Project 440, Yotam Haber was born in Holland and grew up in Israel, Nigeria, and Milwaukee. He is the winner of the 2020 Azrieli Music Prize, a 2017 Koussevitzky Commission for the Library of Congress, a 2013 Fromm Music Foundation commission, a 2013 NYFA award, the 2007 Rome Prize and a 2005 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. He has received grants and fellowships from Civitella Ranieri, the MAP Fund, New Music USA, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Jerome Foundation, the Bellagio Rockefeller Foundation, Yaddo, Bogliasco, MacDowell Colony, the Hermitage, ASCAP, the Copland House, Aspen Music Festival and Tanglewood.
In 2015, Haber’s first monographic album of chamber music, Torus, was hailed by New York’s WQXR as "a snapshot of a soul in flux – moving from life to the afterlife, from Israel to New Orleans – a composer looking for a sound and finding something powerful along the way." Recent commissions include works for Argento New Music Project, Kronos Quartet and Carnegie Hall, Pritzker Prize-winning architect Peter Zumthor; an evening-length oratorio for the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, CalARTS@REDCAT/Disney Hall (Los Angeles); New York-based Contemporaneous, Gabriel Kahane, and Alarm Will Sound; the 2015 New York Philharmonic CONTACT! Series; the Venice Biennale; Bang on a Can Summer Festival; Neuvocalsolisten Stuttgart and ensemble l’arsenale; FLUX Quartet, JACK Quartet, Cantori New York, the Tel Aviv-based Meitar Ensemble, and the Berlin-based Quartet New Generation.
Recent major projects include New Water Music, an interactive work (2017) for the Louisiana Philharmonic and community musicians performed from boats and barges along the waterways of New Orleans; They Say You Are My Disaster (Fromm Commission, 2019) for voice and ensemble to be premiered by Collide-O-Scope; and Estro Poetico-armonico III (2020) for mezzo-soprano, electronics, and sinfonietta for Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne. Haber is Associate Professor of Composition at UMKC Conservatory, and Artistic Director Emeritus of MATA, the non-profit organization founded by Philip Glass that has, since 1996, been dedicated to commissioning and presenting new works by young composers from around the world. His music is published by RAI Trade.
The Voice Imitator
Music and libretto by team composer and librettist
Based on the short story by Thomas Bernhard
Talea Ensemble (NYC), James Baker, Conductor, Sharon Harms, Soprano, Michael Weyandt, Baritone
Royce vavrek Bio:
Royce Vavrek is a Canada-born, Brooklyn-based librettist and lyricist who has been called “the indie Hofmannsthal” (The New Yorker) a “Metastasio of the downtown opera scene” (The Washington Post), “an exemplary creator of operatic prose” (The New York Times), and “one of the most celebrated and sought after librettists in the world” (CBC Radio). His opera “Angel’s Bone” with composer Du Yun was awarded the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Music.
With composer Missy Mazzoli he wrote “Song from the Uproar,” premiered by Beth Morrison Projects in 2012, and subsequently seen in multiple presentations around the country. Their second opera, an adaptation of Lars von Trier’s “Breaking the Waves,” premiered at Opera Philadelphia, co-commissioned by Beth Morrison Projects, and directed by James Darrah to critical acclaim in September of 2016. The work won the 2017 Music Critics Association of North America award for Best New Opera and was nominated for Best World Premiere at the 2017 International Opera Awards. A new production premiered at the Edinburgh International Festival in the summer of 2019, produced by Scottish Opera and Opera Ventures, helmed by Tony Award-winning director Tom Morris and earned star Sydney Mancasola a coveted Herald Angel Award for her performance. Their next opera, an adaptation of Karen Russell’s short story “Proving Up,” was commissioned and presented by Washington National Opera, Opera Omaha and The Miller Theatre in 2018, was a finalist for the MCANA Best New Opera Award of that year. They are currently developing a grand opera for Opera Philadelphia and the Norwegian National Opera based on an original story by two-time Governor General’s Award-winning playwright Jordan Tannahill, as well as an adaptation of George Saunders’ Booker Prize-winning novel “Lincoln in the Bardo” for The Metropolitan Opera.
His collaboration with composer David T. Little led Heidi Waleson of the Wall Street Journal to proclaim them “one of the most exciting composer-librettist teams working in opera today.” In April of 2016 they premiered their first grand opera, “JFK,” at Fort Worth Opera, a co-commission with American Lyric Theater and Opéra de Montréal that was called “ravishing” (Opera News), earning a ten-star review in Opera Now Magazine. This followed the success of their first opera, “Dog Days,” which received its world premiere in September of 2012 at Peak Performances @ Montclair, in a production co-produced by Beth Morrison Projects and directed by American maverick Robert Woodruff. The work was celebrated as the Classical Music Event of the year by Time Out New York and a standout opera of recent decades by The New York Times. They are currently developing an original work for the Metropolitan Opera through the Met/LCT commissioning program.
Dog Days. Composed by David T. Little, based on the short story Dog Days by Judy Budnitz
Directed by Robert Woodruff, music direction by Alan Pierson
Commissioned by PEAK PERFORMANCES @ Montclair State University (NJ)
in association with BETH MORRISON PROJECTS
anna schuleit haber Bio:
Anna Schuleit Haber is a visual artist whose work lies at the intersection of painting, drawing, installation art, architecture, stage, and community. She studied painting at the Rhode Island School of Design and was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard. Her works range from museum installations made with paint, to large-scale projects in forests, on uninhabited islands, and in psychiatric institutions, using extensive sound systems, live sod, thousands of flowers, mirrors, antique telephones, bodies of water, and neuroscience technologies. She was named a MacArthur Fellow for work that has “conceptual clarity, compassion, and beauty.”
Anna has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony, Bogliasco, Blue Mountain Center, The Hermitage, Yaddo, Banff, and a visiting artist / guest lecturer at Brown University, MIT, Smith College, Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, The New School, Brandeis, University of Michigan, McGill, RISD, Boston University, Pratt, Bowdoin, and Syracuse University. Her writings have appeared in the Virginia Quarterly Review, The Believer, the Massachusetts Review, Agni, and in Urban Infill, the journal of the Cleveland Urban Design Center. She most recently taught at the University of New Orleans and the Kansas City Art Institute.
As part of a museum commission and an NEA grant she recently embedded herself in a small-town newsroom where she staged a serial 'take-over' of 26 front pages in collaboration with typographers from around the world, poets, writers, journalists, local citizens and students. Other recent projects include commissions for architecture, as well as a commission for the stage in Copenhagen (DK), at Teater Grob (on view right now).
Her works are included in private collections in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Australia, as well as in the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.