World premiere oratorio shows us the “other” Schindler

Sousa MendesBehind a tongue-twisting title lies the dramatic story of a Portuguese diplomat who saved many thousands of refugees from the horrors of World War II, all with the power of his pen.

Aristides de Sousa Mendes (pictured) fast-tracked more than 30,000 visas in mere months during 1940.  He was later tried in his own country for defying Portugal’s dictatorial leadership, and while he saved so many lives, Mendes’ actions were carefully buried, and relatively unknown until he was officially vindicated in the late 1980s, more than thirty years after he died poverty-stricken.

This weekend, however, the foundation named after this extraordinary man presents a new oratorio by composer Neely Bruce, bringing Mendes’ remarkable story into the spotlight.  The title role is sung by tenor Robert MacNeil, with soprano Marina Harris, tenor Ashley Faatoalia, bass-baritone Stephen Kirchgraber, soprano Katherine Giaquinto and several other talented local artists in supporting roles. Narration will be provided by actor Michel Gill, star of Netflix’s House of Cards, whose grandparents were among those helped by Mendes.  The production is conducted by Donald Brinegar.

A more complete performer list and more information are available on the foundation’s website (see below), and in this excellent article from the Los Angeles Times.

[Note:  as we have more room available to us here on the blog, the complete performer list is included at the bottom of this post. You can also view our calendar listing here.]

The Sousa Mendes Foundation

Circular 14:
The Apotheosis of Aristides

a new oratorio

Sunday, January 24 —  3pm

Moses E. Gindi Auditorium

American Jewish University
15600 Mulholland Drive
Los Angeles CA 90077

Map & Directions

This concert is presented in tandem with related programming at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust


Donald Brinegar, conductor
The Donald Brinegar Singers
Michel Gill (“House of Cards”), narrator
Robert MacNeil, tenor
Marina Harris, soprano
Ashley Faatoalia, tenor
Katherine Giaquinto, soprano
Stephan Kirchgraber, bass-baritone
E. Scott Levin, bass-baritone
Jonathan Frias, tenor
Ariel Pisturino, soprano
Pedro da Silva, Portuguese guitar
Cameron O’Connor, guitar
John Krovoza, cello
Neely Bruce, piano

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