The Arts

Opera York – And the Rat Laughed

Opera York – And the Rat Laughed featured image

reviewed by Paula Citron

And the Rat Laughed
Opera York
Composed by Ella Milch-Sheriff
Libretto by Nava Semel and Milch-Sheriff, based on the novel by Semel
Conducted by Geoffrey Butler
Directed by Penelope Cookson
Starring Melanie Gall, Andrew Tees, Adriana Albu, Angela Burns, Einat Aronstein, Dion Mazerolle, Gerrit Theule and Ramona Carmelly
At the Richmond Hill Centre Nov. 5, 7 and 8


In association with Holocaust Education Week, Opera York presents the North American premiere of the Israeli opera And the Rat Laughed in Hebrew with English surtitles.

Based on the 2001 novel by Nava Semel who wrote the libretto with composer Ella Milch-Sheriff, the story takes place in three time periods, and deals with a Jewish hidden child who suffered untold horrors living with a Polish farm family. Kept in a potato cellar, a rat was her only companion.

Milch-Sheriff has composed a compelling score that is modernist without being discordant. The libretto is metaphoric rather than realistic, but resonates with tragic power. Musically, conductor Geoffrey Butler leads a strong orchestra and a talented cast.

At the dress rehearsal I attended, I felt the static production was lacking in innovative direction and lighting. Nonetheless, the musical and design elements are strong enough to make for an absorbing evening.

And the Rat Laughed is performed at the Richmond Hill Centre Nov. 5, 7 and 8.

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