The Sunday Opera: "Sarlatan" by Pavel Haas

Apr 18, 2019

It’s a showcase of the work of Pavel Haas on this week’s Sunday Opera (4/21 3:00 p.m.) as we look at his only opera, written in 1936, “Sarlatan.”  Haas was one of the Czech-Jewish composers to be used by the Nazis as part of their propaganda display at Terezin (Theresienstadt concentration camp) for the Red Cross.  Haas was killed on October 17, 1944 at the age of 45 when he drew attention to himself, saving conductor Karel Ancerl when they were sent to Auschwitz immediately after the Red Cross’ visit.

“Sarlatan,” “The Charlatan” Is the story of a quack doctor named Pustrpalk who has some lucky successes that fade when he kills a rival during treatment.  Narrowly escaping a hanging, his life spirals out of control, and he begins drinking heavily which leads to his tragic end.  The cast includes Vladimir Chmelo, Anda-Louise Bogza, Miroslav Svejda, and Leo Marian Vodicka.  Israel Yinon conducts.  After the opera, host Michael Kownacky has more music of Haas scheduled, including his Wind Quintet, String Quartet No. 2, Piano Suite, and Radio Overture.