Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

Opera for community engagement among refugees in Germany

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Last year I became friends with a large Iraqi family who, because of religious persecution, were given asylum in Germany. The family, 6 children and both parents, lived in a refugee camp, all in one room, on the outskirts of the city. Their experience was very difficult and hopeless at times. They had literally left everything behind in Iraq and had come with just a couple bags and the clothes on their backs. The father had left his stable job and all the children were removed from school. It took 4 months for the children to be reenrolled in school, and getting medical attention for simple things was a struggle. It was a massively difficult adjustment, one that I can not even begin to understand!  What always amazed me was the hope they had in their eyes, and in the calm way that the family spoke about their situation.

Despite the hope they had, often the teenage girl spoke about needing more creative outlets; an escape from the overwhelming new life she had been thrown into. I wish I had been as forward thinking and creative as German Mezzo-Soprano Cornelia Lanz who has now successfully led an opera project for Syrian Refugees in Stuttgart, Germany Seeing a window of opportunity to create a message of peace, acceptance and adaptation Lanz began to organize unique staging of Moztart’s Cosi van Tutti for the syrian refugee community to take part in. The opera’s well known story has been slightly adapted woven together with syrian songs of peace and hope.

While the project was initially met with some resistance, the community came around and says that it has been an incredible positive emotional journey. Eighteen year old syrian refugee who took part in the opera says:  “At first, in the beginning, I thought that Germany is not good and is so boring, and we have no future here,” “but after the opera, and after we sing our scales through the opera, I saw that there’s a future for us, and I am so excited to be in Germany, and we are so lucky here.” Others say this project has given them new hope and broken the monotony of refugee life.

This is such a wonderful example of how beautifully cross-cultural arts and music really do have the ability to build bridges. I really hope to see more initiatives like this in the future.

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This entry was posted on October 20, 2014 by .
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