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Decades in the making, Case professor debuts 'The Sparks Fly Upward' opera at Maltz Performing Arts Center

She is making sure no one ever forgets the Holocaust
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Posted at 7:08 AM, Jun 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-09 07:08:05-04

CLEVELAND — For composer and director Cathy Lesser Mansfield, the production of the opera “The Sparks Fly Upward” has been decades in the making. She is making sure no one ever forgets the Holocaust.

Set in Nazi Germany, “The Sparks Fly Upward” is "a story of courage, friendship, love, faith, hope and the power of how one person can change another person’s life." The story follows three German families in Berlin—two Jewish and one Christian—during the Holocaust.

The story is told entirely through music and lyrics.

Mansfield, who teaches the Holocaust and the law at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, said she spent decades researching and writing. Her research has included her going through the archives, visiting Berlin and teaching “Holocaust in the law” at Case.

“Everything that happens to the characters actually happened to someone or several people during the Holocaust. And so I wanted to make sure I had all the details right, especially as the Holocaust survivors are starting to pass on. You know, this is how people are going to learn about the Holocaust and the lessons it has to offer," Mansfield said.

The production from start to finish has been a family affair with her young brother, Jeffrey Lesser, serving as the director.

“He's done such an amazing job taking these, like, complex visions that I had that are kind of more like a movie and then making them come to life on stage,” she said.

The cast of 35 professional actors and musicians features Cleveland Cantor Kathryn Wolfe Sebo and will be accompanied by a live 36-piece orchestra.

“The Sparks Fly Upwards” will be performed through Sunday at the Maltz Performing Arts Center. Click here for times and to buy tickets.

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