Hans Krása

30 January & 7 February

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The Opera North Youth Company is proud to present Brundibár as part of the Brundibár Arts Festival 2022.

An opera written for children by Jewish composer Hans Krása in 1938, with lyrics by Adolf Hoffmeister, it tells the story of two children whose plan to help their sick mother pits them against an evil organ-grinder.

For schools interested in bringing students to the performance, there will also be a schools’ matinee taking place at 2pm on 7 February at the Howard Assembly Room.

This performance of Brundibár is part of a wider project for young people exploring the Holocaust. Over the course of the project, we have worked with the Brundibár Arts Festival, the Holocaust Exhibition and Learning Centre in Huddersfield, and experts in Jewish music at the University of Leeds.

In November 2019, the Opera North Youth Chorus visited Terezin concentration camp, as well as the theatre where Brundibár was performed by Jewish children who were kept captive, used for propaganda and murdered by the Nazis. As a response, young people created ‘Standing Together’ which was performed in Leeds Town Hall as part of the Holocaust Memorial Day in January 2020.

From £3*

Running time
Approximately 40 minutes. At Sage Gateshead, the first half will feature Hans Krása’s Tanec and Passacaglia & Fuge.

*Prices vary by venue. Booking fees may apply.

Read our COVID-19 guidance »

Historical background

Brundibár  received its premiere in German-occupied Prague and was performed in secret by children at a Jewish Orphanage. In August 1942, Hans Krása was deported to Terezín concentration camp, followed by many of the adults and children with whom he had worked. In July 1943, the score of Brundibár  was smuggled into camp.

Krása re-orchestrated it and the premiere of the Terezín version took place in the hall of the Magdeburg barracks. Realising the propagandistic potential of this artistic endeavour, the Nazis arranged a special new staging of Brundibár for a propaganda film, and the same production was performed for the inspection of Terezín by the International Red Cross in September 1944. This would be the last of the fifty-five performances in the Terezín ghetto, before the composer Hans Krása, and many of the children and musicians who took part were murdered at Auschwitz.

Page updated 13/02/2022 
Please note that this page has been edited in order to clarify in more detail the historical context surrounding the origins of this opera and performances given by Jewish children and musicians at Terezín concentration camp, before many of them were transported to Auschwitz and other death camps and killed during the Holocaust. We would like to apologise for any distress caused by this omission in an earlier version of this page.

Poster for Brundibár at Theresienstadt, April 1944


Aninka and Pepíček have a sick mother.  The doctor has prescribed milk for her health and the children go to seek it in the town marketplace. When they get there, the milkman tells them that they need money for the milk, but they don’t have any…  Suddenly the children spot the organ-grinder Brundibár, playing on the street corner.

Seeing his success, they decide to busk as well, much to the annoyance of the townsfolk and Brundibár who chase them away.  Three animals – a sparrow, cat and dog – come to their aid, and together they recruit the other children of the neighbourhood.  The next day, their plan goes ahead: the animals and children drown out Brundibár.

The townsfolk are very moved and give Aninka and Pepíček money.  But Brundibár sneaks in and steals their takings.  All the children and the animals give chase and manage to recover the money.  The opera concludes with a victory march sung about defeating the evil organ-grinder.


Creative Team


Nicholas Shaw


PJ Harris


Anna Yates


Jim Manganello


Elle Taylor


Kate Egan


Elizabeth Jones


Miloš Milivojević


Pepíček Hazel Read
Aninka Scarlett Banks
Brundibár Samuel Mills

Ice Cream seller Maddy Barker
Baker Will Johnson
Milk seller Macy Ann Jagger
Police Officer Joseph Mason

Blossom Palmer
Fizz Palmer

Emily Richmond
Akele Obiang
Freya Hunter
Lars Hunter
Beth Smith
Rosie Madeley

Hattie Cobb
Kat Trowsdale

Jasmine Ball
Ruby Martin
Mary Taylor
Abbie McHale

Amy Watt
Harriet Clark

School children and furniture played by members of the cast


The show will be accompanied by players from the Royal Northern Sinfonia.


The Opera North Youth Company is supported by the Emerald Foundation, The Liz and Terry Bramall FoundationWhitaker Charitable Trust, Derek Hill Foundation, The Arts Society Leeds.

Arts scholarships are kindly supported by the Leverhulme Trust.

With special thanks to The Percy Hedley 1990 Trust for supporting the production.

Brundibár Arts Festival is supported by The Barbour Foundation, The Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation, The Rossiter family, The Tolchinsky family, Newcastle City Council, Community Foundation, The Foyle Foundation.


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