American Council for Polish Culture - Detroit Autumn Board Meeting 2015
The Fall Board Meeting, hosted by affiliate Friends of Polish Art, was held November 13 and 14, 2015, in downtown Detroit, Michigan. Carol J. Surma, President of FPA, welcomed the attendees. Friday evening President Tom Payne brought the Fall Board Meeting to order and business was conducted as usual. That evening, the board members enjoyed a wonderful reception prepared by our Detroit hosts. It was a chance to get together and talk about activities conducted by the affiliates.
The board meeting continued Saturday morning with a number of important issues being raised by the board. That evening the board members attended a performance of the recently re-discovered opera "The Passenger" (Pasazerka) by Polish born composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg who fled to the Soviet Union. The opera was suppressed until after 1989. Besides the spectacular two-story set, the opera was sung in Polish, German, French, Russian, Czech, Yiddish and English in order to portray the different individuals that were imprisoned in the camps.
The opera was being performed for the first time at the magnificent Detroit Opera House by the Michigan Opera Theatre. The story was based on based on a novel by Zofia Posmysz which is set after World War II and takes place on an ocean liner. As reported in The Detroit News:The opera opens as a middle-aged German woman named Liese boards an ocean liner in the early 1960s with her husband, a diplomat named Walter. Liese is shocked to see a fellow passenger she thinks she knows, yet she also believes the woman to have been killed at Auschwitz. It turns out that Liese was an SS guard at the death camp during the war and the mysterious passenger, Marta, was a prisoner in her charge. Liese is so unnerved that she confesses her past to her husband for the first time.We are looking forward to our Spring meeting in Washington, D.C. and the Convention in Pittsburgh!
From here, the action unfolds on literally two levels as the Liese-and-Walter story plays out amid the relative gaiety of the ship above, while the nightmare of prisoners' lives at Auschwitz emerges below in a series of flashbacks. The camp is populated not just with Jewish prisoners but also with Poles (Marta is Polish-Catholic), Russians, Czechs and others. Seven languages are heard onstage as the opera is sung in English, German, Russian, Polish, Yiddish, French and Czech (with English subtitles projected above the stage). The combined intensity of the subject matter and the music make "The Passenger" a completely immersive experience for an audience and performers.
1. (l. to r.) Tom Payne, Robert Synakowski, Alicia Dutka
2. The general assembly
3. Mary Ellen Tyszka, Thaddeus Wiecek, Marcia Lewandowski, Alicia Dutka
4. The general assembly
5. The general assembly
6. Debbie Siegel, Carol Surma, Janet Hedin
7. The reception table
8. Marion and Jo Louise Winters, Jackie Kolowski
9. Barbara Lemecha, Richard Larkin, Jaroslaw Golembiowski, Cecilia Larkin
10. Matt and Carolyn Meleski, Alicia and Robert Dutka
11. Marcia Lewandowski, Edward Rajtar, Jackie Kolowski
12. "The Passenger" opera program