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Chicago Premiere Brundibar Revisited

Chicago Premiere Brundibar Revisited

Brundibar Revisited



Anne Frank Center Berlin says about
Greta Klingsberg in Brundibar Revisited:
“Her story has to be heard”

(Chicago) The children’s opera Brundibar was performed more than 50 times by Jewish children imprisoned at the Theresienstadt concentration camp. The Nazis used performances to trick delegates from the Red Cross into believing the camp was a model settlement complete with cultural opportunities, when in fact Theresienstadt was a transit camp for Jews being sent to Treblinka and Auschwitz. More than 33,000 prisoners died while interred there, from malnutrition, disease, and inhumane treatment by their captors.

In spite of Brundibar’s use as a propaganda tool, its simple story of good triumphing over evil became a symbol of hope for its young performers and their fellow prisoners.

Brundibar Revisited is a deeply moving new documentary film directed by Douglas Wolfsperger. In it, Brundibar is to be performed by a Berlin-based theater group of young people, all of whom face significant struggles in their own lives. Initially, the cast members are unaware of the opera and not particularly interested in learning about the circumstances under which it was first staged. As they prepare for their performance, however, they travel to Theresienstadt (Terezín in Czech) accompanied by the charismatic Greta Klingsberg, one of the few survivors of the original cast. Her life story and her friendship inspire them to rethink their attitudes about history and about themselves. 

In observance of Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership presents the Chicago premiere of Brundibar Revisited on Thursday, May 5 at 7 pm.

Attendees are invited to stay for a post-show discussion with Dr. Kenneth Pargament, a leading figure on the study of religion and resilience. In his research, writing, and clinical practice, he focuses on the ways trauma impacts people psychologically, socially, and physically — and on the ways spirituality can help.  

About the film, director Douglas Wolfsperger said, “For almost seventy years, National Socialism has been a part of [German] history…Those who don't want to put the past behind are confronted with determining which forms the remembrances should take. In my eyes, the key lies in the lives of the young protagonists of Brundibar Revisited. During rehearsals and their encounters with Greta Klingsberg, they develop strong reactions and new insights. Far away from conventional lessons, but with immense curiosity, they make the worst chapter of German history a part of our present.”

Tickets to the May 5 premiere are $18 ($8 for students). They can be purchased online at, where Spertus is offering two-for-one ticket purchases for this special program, or by phone at 312.322.1773.

The run time for Brundibar Revisited is 90 minutes. The film is in German with English subtitles.

Spertus Institute is located at 610 S. Michigan Avenue. Discount Parking is available for $11 with Spertus validation at the Essex Inn, 8th Street and Michigan Avenue (two blocks south of Spertus).


Greta Klingsberg was deported to Theresienstadt at age thirteen. While there, she found that music helped her momentarily escape the terrible reality of the camp. About performing in Brundibar, she said, “I was always afraid of the unknown, but when standing on stage, I could enter a totally different world.” After liberation, Greta immigrated to Jerusalem, where she studied voice at the Jerusalem Conservatoire. She is responsible for the translation of the Brundibar libretto from Czech into Hebrew. 

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Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership offers dynamic learning opportunities, rooted in Jewish wisdom and culture and open to all. Graduate programs and workshops train future leaders and engage individuals in exploration of Jewish life. Public programs — including films, speakers, seminars, and concerts — take place at the Institute's Michigan Avenue facility, in the Chicago suburbs, and online. 

Spertus Institute is a partner with the Jewish United Fund in serving our community.

This program is made possible with support from the Bernard and Rochelle Zell Center for Holocaust Studies at Spertus Institute.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Main Image

Greta Klingsberg (left) and Annika Westphal. Greta performed the starring role in Brundibar in 1943 and 1944 while she was a prisoner at Theresienstadt. Annika performed the same role 70 years later for the Youth Theater Company at Schaubühne Berlin.