In the Sign of

Solidarity with Ukraine


Mstislav Pentkovsky. The Inspirator.

The idea for the Ukrainian edition of the new children's book Brundibár combined with a gift campaign for Ukrainian children came from opera-director Mstislav Pentkovsky, Riga (Latvia). He is considered a pioneer of the children's opera Brundibár in Russia with opera productions at the Mariinsky Theatre and the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, at the Volgograd Music Theatre, the Moscow Philharmonic and the Anton Chekhov International Theatre Center, Tallinn. In 2016 and 2017, he invited two of the "Girls of Room 28" to performances of Brundibár: Ela Weisberger and Evelina Merová. He and Hannelore Brenner have been in contact ever since. On May 5, 2022, she published Mstislav Pentkovsky's  Statement Against the War.

Mstislav Pentkovsky. Opera-director
From the Statement Against the War. By Mstislav Pentkovksy:
"As stage-director of the anti-war operas The Diary of Anne Frank and Brundibár at the Mariinsky Theatre, I’ve always believed in their humanitarian message. (...)  The Diary of Anne Frank and Brundibár are about the horrors of the Holocaust and the value of human life, they recall the tragic lessons of the past century. Today we are witnessing a new catastrophe, the consequences of which are not likely to ever be overcome."
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Brundibár und Die Mädchen von Zimmer 28

Brundibár and the Girls of Room 28 - these are two stories that are inseparatly interwoven. The book The Girls of Room 28  by Hannelore Brenner also tells the story of the first performances of the children's opera Brundibár in Prague and Theresienstadt. For the author, the opera by Hans Krása and Adolf Hoffmeister became the initial spark for her involvement with the Theresienstadt ghetto and the beginning of the Room 28 Projects.

In 1998 the radio-documentary Brundibár und die Kinder von Theresienstadt (Brundibár and the children from Theresienstadt) was produced by "Sender Freies Berlin" and in 1999 by Austrian Radio, Vienna. The following publications by the author are all connected to Brundibár: the book, the music theater play and the exhibition The Girls of Room 28 as well as the Room 28 Educational Project. The CD with the original radio-feature by the Austrian Radio (ORF) is currently offered together with the Brundibár children's book by Edition Room 28. See: Angebot. (Offer)

The new module for the Room 28 Educational Project Historical Context of the Childhood Biographies of the Girls of Room 28 (publication date May 15, 2024) also sheds light on the opera in the historical context of its creation in Prague in 1938 and recalls the first rehearsals and performances in the Prague orphanage in 1941-1942.


For many years, the survivors of Room 28 accompanied the exhibition dedicated to them, which was often shown as part of Brundibár performances. They shared their precious memories with us. An audio-recording on the significance of the opera can be heard on the Edition Room 28 website.


The ideas that moved Mstislav Pentkovsky to inspire to a Ukrainian edition of the Brundibár children's book in connection with a Gift-Campaign get evident if you read the text published in the Epilogue of the Ukrainian edition of the Brundibár children's book. Here is an excerpt.

"For the Jewish children of the Theresienstadt ghetto, the opera helped to find happiness in the worst of times and gave hope that good will defeat evil. Brundibár is the villain of the opera. Brundibár - that's Czech for bumblebee or, figuratively speaking, a curmudgeon, a grumbler. Many children in Theresienstadt saw Hitler in him. And they defeated this Brundibár on stage. This gave them strength and hope. Hope for the end of the war. Hope for victory over Hitler.


Today we are reliving the horrors of war. The Second World War and the Holocaust are not distant memories. Again, thousands of children are experiencing the horror of terror and war. Therefore, when I learned about the children's book in spring of 2022, my first thought was that it would be great if we could support Ukrainian children and give them this book as a gift. Brundibár demonstrates the importance of solidarity and reminds us that solidarity is a source of our strength.


Moreover: Brundibár is a precious, timeless work of art, an opera with great creative power. Hans Krása's music is ravishing, the messages are supremely important - messages of humanity, messages about the importance of solidarity and unity against the common enemy. Just as 80 years ago, Brundibár inspires us today with the belief that good will triumph over evil and that life will return to normal."

Brundibár production by Mstislav Pentkovsky in the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. 2017.
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