What version of Anne Frank are you familiar with? Did you know that vast passages of The Diary of Anne Frank were censored and redacted by her editors, one of whom was her father, removing passages about Anne’s sexuality, her frustrations with her parents, and her satirical wit? The idea of Anne and her words being silenced by others is deeply unsettling. The unabridged diary and subsequent “missing pages” have only recently emerged to complete her story – the story of a young woman’s coming of age in an oppressive climate, offering a more complete representation of her character.
Inspired by the original, unredacted texts of the diary, Loose Tea Music Theatre is creating Singing Only Softly. This chamber opera voices Anne Frank as a fully formed young woman, describing her experiences, while discovering herself and her body, which was originally silenced from her story. Singing Only Softly explores a more nuanced character than the one that is presented in the redacted diary: not Otto Frank’s flattening of his daughter into the innocent child of The Diary of a Young Girl, but Anne’s own complex self-awareness and self-representation.
Anne Frank will be portrayed by Sara Schabas, an emerging Dora-nominated Jewish Canadian Soprano who commissioned two new Jewish Canadian operas for Yom HaShoah 2018. Singing Only Softly is mentored by Governor General’s Award-winning playwright and librettist Anna Chatterton. Her mentorship aligns beautifully with the theme of female creatives supporting each other.
The seed funding for Singing Only Softly was awarded through a Musique 3 Femmes competition for women-led new opera projects. This will develop portions of the piece to be workshopped at the Opera.ca summit in September 2018. A further dramaturgical development workshop is scheduled for March 2019.
Loose Tea plans on a full musical workshop in January 2019, in alignment with International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and a fully staged presentation of Singing Only Softly for Yom HaShoah in May 2019. The fully staged opera will be presented alongside The Diary of Anne Frank, by Grigory Frid, which characterizes Anne in her “edited” version, providing a commentary on female censorship.
Loose Tea is proud that this will be the first classical music project about Anne Frank based on the complete diaries, and the first to be created, performed, and presented entirely by emerging female artists – like Anne Frank herself.