The final journey of the Bregenz "Passenger"

14-year success story reaches a happy conclusion at Madrid's Teatro Real

Bregenz, 29 Feb 24. The acclaimed Bregenz Festival production of Mieczysław Weinberg's opera The Passenger will open at the Teatro Real in Madrid on 1 March 2024 for what is its final run.

Two young women are on board a ship, each embarking on a new and different life, when the history they share – in the concentration camp Auschwitz – catches up with them. This is the story told in Mieczysław Weinberg's opera The Passenger. On 1 March 2024, nearly 14 years after the Bregenz premiere on 21 July 2010, the curtain goes up on the Bregenz Festival's production of the opera at the Teatro Real in Madrid. The Spanish opera house, one of the co-production partners at the outset, is staging The Passenger to mark the tenth anniversary of the death of its former artistic director Gerard Mortier. This will be the final series of performances of the Bregenz production. 

Weinberg's opera, which is based on a novel with the same title by a Polish Auschwitz survivor, Zofia Posmysz, was staged in Bregenz by its then artistic director David Pountney (director) with Johan Engels (stage designer) and Marie-Jeanne Lecca (costume designer). The production is the longest running success of any opera staged in the Festspielhaus. Since its Bregenz premiere the production has travelled to ten major opera houses around the world, including London (ENO), Tel Aviv, Chicago, Warsaw and now Madrid. In 2012, it was nominated for the Laurence Olivier Award in the category Best New Opera Production.

Discovery as part of a Weinberg showcase
The Bregenz Festival mounted a production of Mieczysław Weinberg's The Passenger in 2010 as part of its retrospective showcasing the work of the Polish-Russian composer. This led to his oeuvre being discovered internationally. The Polish author Zofia Posmysz, who passed away in 2022 at the age of 98, worked closely with the festival on the realisation of what was the first staged performance of the opera, and was personally involved in many other performance series. 

She was present at the opera's opening night in Bregenz on 21 July 2010, then aged 86. During the applause she appeared on stage, visibly moved. "If there is a reason why I had to endure National Socialism and the harrowing time in the concentration camp, then [it is] to tell people born later about it, to not let anything so inhuman ever happen again," Zofia Posmysz said in Bregenz on the occasion of the stage premiere. 

Photos from the Bregenz performance can be found here.