An uplifting story of good triumphing over evil, Brundibár (Czech slang for bumblebee) is an opera within a play. Based on Aristophanes’s Lysistrata, Brundibár was first composed in 1938 by Hans Krása and Adolf Hoffmeister for a competition being run by the Czechoslovakian Ministry of Education. The results of the competition were never announced as Germany occupied the country, and Krasa was interned in the Terezin Nazi holding camp (Theresienstadt in German), about 40 miles north of Prague. Brundibár was first performed by the children of the Terezin Jewish ghetto. Despite the horror and hardship, the arts flourished within the camp and allowed the children and adults to transcend the misery of their everyday life. As one of the most popular pieces, Brundibár was performed 55 times.
This beautiful anti-war fable tells the tale of a brother and sister who urgently need milk for their sick mother. To make money the children sing in the marketplace, much to the annoyance of the organ grinder Brundibár. As they struggle to overcome Brundibár and his cruel antics they are joined by an array of other children and some talking animals.
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Brundibár rehearsal notes
Images courtesy of the Berkeley Rep Magazine
About the book
Artist Maurice Sendak and playwright Tony Kushner collaborated on a picture book version of Brundibár in 2003.
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All the images of the book used on this page were downloaded from Amazon.com.
About Tony Kushner
Playwright Tony Kushner is the author of the acclaimed Angels in America that has received a Pulitzer Prize in 1993, two Tony Awards, two Drama Desk Awards, the Evening Standard Award, two Olivier Award Nominations, the New York Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award and the LAMBDA Literary Award for Drama. He intends his plays to be part of a greater political movement, and his work is concerned with moral responsibility during politically repressive times. Raised in Louisiana and educated at Columbia and New York University, Kushner frequently addresses audiences about weighty philosophical and political topics. Kushner’s most recent plays are Caroline, or Change and Homebody/Kabul.
Source: UCSB Arts & Lectures, University of California, Santa Barbara
Selection of articles
New York Post (May 6th 2006) Children Triumphant Onstage
Euan is interviewed about Brundibár new
San Francisco Chronicle (November 18th 2005) Maurice Sendak designs a dreamlike comic world to deepen Czech composers' farcical short operas
2 pics of Euan as Brundibár
Brundibár press release (October 17th 2005) Berkeley Rep's Brundibár features a chorus of local children
Playbill.com (October 8th 2005) Taboo, Wicked Stars to Headline New Kushner Opera Brundibár and Comedy on the Bridge
Oswegoopera.com The Story of Brundibár
This is the full story, skip it if you don't like spoilers !
Listen to Euan reading the story of Brundibár to children at the Target® family matinee (Berkeley Repertory Theatre, December 17th 2005)