Jake Heggie's Another Sunrise: Krystyna Zywulska and the Nature of Survival
McKnight, Lynda Keith
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Jake Heggie’s solo chamber opera Another Sunrise premiered in May 2012, with a libretto by Gene Scheer. The work was commissioned by Seattle’s “Music of Remembrance,” a group that dedicates itself to exploring and preserving music composed by concentration camp prisoners during the Holocaust, as well as to commissioning works on Holocaust-related topics. Another Sunrise tells the story of Krystyna Żywulska, a Polish Jew imprisoned in Auschwitz. Żywulska had a number of remarkable experiences under the Third Reich. After boldly walking out of the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw, she reinvented herself as a gentile, joining the Polish resistance. Arrested as a political prisoner, she hid the fact that she was Jewish for her entire incarceration in the concentration camp, where her poems and songs led to fame as the “camp poet.” This work, a dramatic scene for solo soprano and instrumental ensemble, focuses on Żywulska later in life. She has been asked by an interviewer to record her memories of Auschwitz. However, facing the tape recorder during a sleepless night, she finds it impossible to tell her story. First presenting basic biographical material about Jake Heggie, I will explore his background and education, training, professional experience, significant previous works and their reception history, and his compositional philosophy and style. Details about librettist Gene Scheer, both biographical and musical, are also included. Next I will look at Another Sunrise in greater detail, with facts about the commissioning and premiere of the work. Information about Krystyna Żywulska, focusing on her experiences while in Auschwitz as well as her life after the war, will follow, with a synopsis of the composition, incorporating a detailed description of the individual sections, the dramatic arch, and the message the composer and librettist are trying to convey. Finally, I will finish with a musical analysis of the piece, exploring the form and tonal relationships. Turning more specifically to Heggie’s pervasive use of motives, an extensive topological study will focus on the dramatic significance and musical development of the four primary motives that unify the work.