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Opera: Semmelweis

After co-presenting the work's Special Preview Performance back in September 2017, Hungarian Cultural Center, New York is proud of bringing back SEMMELWEIS, a music-theater work inspired by Ignác Semmelweis, the 19th-century Hungarian physician known as the pioneer of hand-washing and antiseptic procedures, during days of the pandemic in virtual form.

Join us this Thursday, May 14, 2020, at 1 PM ET for an exclusive introduction by the creators and Saturday, May 16, 2020, at 2 PM ET, the complete performance of Semmelweis on our Facebook page with composer Raymond Lustig, librettist Michael Doherty, and director Martin Boross.

The obstetrician Ignác Semmelweis – who championed the practice of hand-washing in the 19th century that is the foundation of today’s antiseptic procedures – has had a resurgence of interest during the current coronavirus outbreak. Amidst a devastating epidemic in 1846, Dr. Semmelweis discovered that the deadly disease was being spread to healthy mothers by the unclean hands of their own doctors.

Tragically, the medical community rebelled against his discovery. They scoffed at his findings, rejected his theory, stripped him of his credentials, and the doctor was subsequently driven into an insane asylum where he died alone. It was not until decades later that his discovery was validated and accepted.

SEMMELWEIS’s story is symbol-driven and tightly integrated with movement, staging, lighting, projection, and voiceover to convey the essential narrative outline. Blending elements of a song cycle, choral opera, pure-tone sacred vocal singing style, and pop and musical theater influences, the work is scored for women’s vocal ensemble, baritone soloist, and seven instrumentalists.

Hosted by the Hungarian Cultural Centers of London and New York.
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