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Sweet yet profound

Pinecrest Gardens
05/15/2016 -  & May 22 (Miami Beach), June 5 (Miami), 2016
Hans Krása: Brundibár
Keenan Machado (Peter Ginz), Pablo Taboada (Pepícek), Andrea Ramirez (Annika), Reid Suttles (Brundibár), Paolo Maselli (Popper, Monkey), Amanda Lopez (Sparrow), Alejandra Gonzalez (Cat), Stephania Ramirez (Policeman), JuanFelipe Chacon (Dog), Michael Dylan Gil (Milkman), Sofia Sanjurjo (Ice Cream Vendor), Andrea Zoe Nunez (Baker), Megan Frigerio (Village Girl), Isabella Velasco (Village Girl)
Orchestra Miami and Chorus, Elaine Rinaldi (conductor)
Michael Yawney (director), Lena Rodriguez (costume design), Michael Engelmann (Props)

P. Maselli (© Courtesy of Orchestra Miami)

For about the last fifteen years, Hans Krása’s Brundibár has developed a considerable performance history throughout the United States. Documentation from books, film and recordings on the origins of this piece is fascinating.

Orchestra Miami’s founder/conductor, Elaine Rinaldi offered a production beginning with a sufficient though not excessive introduction about this work’s historical significance. In addition this production is framed with an additional narrative by Wendell Harrington (adapted by director Michael Yawney) that places the work into a coherent frame that allows younger audiences to grasp its reality. In this production, two young Jewish friends, Peter Ginz and his friend Popper (Keenan Machado and Paolo Maselli) share their experiences both before and during their time in a concentration camp.

Knowing events that preceded and followed the 1942 premiere in Terezin, Czechoslovakia takes this little good versus evil fable to a new level of importance. The opera itself is delightful; filled with rich melodic invention, beautiful orchestrations and with characters we really care about. Like the best children’s works, adults found it accessible and engrossing. It is not unlike a Hansel and Gretel tale, yet here the siblings’ motivation is not for their own salvation but
for that of their mother.

Orchestra Miami’s polished and committed approach is what made the performance succeed so brilliantly. The cast made up of students from Miami Arts Studio middle school and Florida International University performed with intense professionalism giving the work the stature it needs. Particularly exceptional was the beautiful voice of Alejandra Gonzalez as the Cat and the entire chorus as it bravely executed the colorful harmony.

The performance was hampered by acoustical problems at the open air theatre at Pinecrest Gardens; however this fine production will be given additional performances on May 22 at Temple Beth Torah Benny Rok Campus in North Miami Beach, and on June 5 at Temple Israel of Greater Miami.

Jeff Haller



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