Coming soon to VPL… And the Rat Laughed. And the Rat Laughed is a holocaust novel by Israeli author Nava Semel. It is particularly unique because while many of the books set during the time of the holocaust directly tackle the horrible events of the time, And the Rat Laughed focuses on the way they are remembered.
The opera, by Ella Milch-Sheriff , was first performed in 2005 in Tel Aviv. It has been such a huge sucess in Israel that Opera York in partnership with the composer and author of the book, decided to put on three performances of the opera at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts in November.
The story is set in 3 time periods during the Nazi internment of the Jews in Europe, 1999 and 2099. A grandmother tells her horrific story of abandonment and abuse to her naive granddaughter. The granddaughter writes her own version of her grandmother’s story and posts it to the internet. Humans of the present have found a way to filter traumatic memories from their consciousness and the stories of the holocaust have been altered into something entirely different. The story examines the ways in which we remember and shows the reader / audience why remembrance is so important.
Opera York did a very good job of staging this opera. Although the futuristic elements were unconventional, they added a little something unusual to the production. My only negative comment is that there were some parts that were confusing. Reading the book before seeing the opera is recommended.
Although the November stagings have finished, I am sure this opera will make its way back to Canada and it is performed regularly in Israel.