The Passenger comes to the Coliseum

Music lovers visiting central London hotels may be interested in catching a new English National Opera production, The Passenger.

The new production is David Poutney’s acclaimed Bregenz Festival co-production of Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s play, which is the tale of a guilt-ridden former SS officer at Auschwitz.

An encounter between the former concentration camp guard and an ex-prisoner plunges them both back into the traumatic experiences of the Holocaust, triggering a “moral battle between guilt and denial”.

Based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Auschwitz survivor Zofia Posmysz, Weinberg’s 1968 opera was effectively banned in the USSR and only finally received its stage premiere in the region last year a the Bregenz Festival.

Opera magazine hailed the play as “a work that demands and deserves to be seen”, characterising the composer as “Shostakovich with a Jewish accent”.

The English National Opera performance will be conducted by Sir Richard Armstrong, the former musical director of the Welsh National Opera.

Based in the London Coliseum, attendees can visit the historic theatre ahead of their showing for a special guided tour.

Theatrical impresario Oswald Stoll commissioned famed architect Frank Matcham to build the Coliseum, which was opened as a music hall in 1904.

Dubbed “the People’s Palace”, the theatre was designed to be affordable to enter but also inspire a sense of wonder and excitement.

The informal tours include the Old Gentleman’s Baronial Smoking Hall, Stoll’s Balcony, some of the Private Rooms, the Upper Glassed Terraces, the auditorium as well as the maze of staircases backstage.

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