Syrian refugees join Mozart opera to deliver message of peace

Mon Oct 6, 2014 11:45am EDT
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By Kieran Guilbert

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Appeals for peace in Syria are usually made by politicians and activists calling for ceasefires, negotiations and aid supplies.

However, in southwest Germany dozens of Syrian refugees who have, for now, found safe haven after fleeing civil war in their homeland, are delivering a message of peace through opera.

A special adaptation of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "Cosi fan tutte", which had its premiere in Stuttgart on Sunday, starred several Syrian refugees alongside a cast of international opera singers.

Cornelia Lanz, the German mezzo-soprano who has been leading the project, said hearing first-hand accounts of the war made her realize the importance of "instilling a clear message of peace and hope into the adaptation."

"In my lifetime in Germany I have never felt the war, but by living with the Syrian people and talking together, I am very touched and very hurt about what war does to people," Lanz told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a telephone interview from Stuttgart.

The 3-1/2-year-old conflict in Syria has killed more than 190,000 people and displaced millions, according to the United Nations.

"In the middle of a rehearsal, one of the refugees got a message that some of their family members in Syria had been killed, and that signifies why we want this opera to be a message of peace for Syrians, and also for the whole world."

"Cosi fan tutte", set in late 18th century Naples, Italy, tackles the topic of love and fidelity, played out by two male friends, who, for a bet, test their lovers by pretending they are going to war but return disguised as exotic strangers.   Continued...