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Tragedy, truth, passion.....The music is of extraordinary skill, passion and beauty.....The opera is beautifully constructed, framed by a solo singer named Esther, who sings a Hebrew lullaby. Gorb has written exhilaratingly in klezmer style on a number of occasions before, and he gets that vernacular into his score to splendid effect. He’s also a master of pastiche of what he calls “bad music” – slimy 1930s populist stuff – and even has a go at sending up a staid Lutheran chorale. Above all, he lets himself go with expressions of the horror and outrageousness of the truth he’s telling, and leaves you in no doubt about his feelings and his passion for a truth to be told.
— Robert Beale, ArtsDesk
The work, in a single act of some 90 minutes, is framed by touching Hebraic laments from Esther (the mezzo Lorna Day). Caroline Taylor brought an engaging soprano sound and lively stage awareness to the role of Sara, joining feelingly in several trios with Fiona Finsbury (soprano) as Hanna and Lucy Vallis (mezzo) as Magda. The tenor Michael Vincent Jones made for a bright, properly conflicted Dieter. Einar Stefansson—bass, including falsetto—doubled ideally as an intimidating camp enforcer and the
sinister Dr Rudi. David Cane (baritone) delivered two neat cameos. Gorb’s score includes a dozen wind and brass, plus percussion and piano (members of both Psappha and the RNCM). He was alive to humour, with several dances including a devilish waltz for a guard and a polka with klezmer clarinet. Stefan Janski’s direction allowed for clear characterization, and Mark Heron conducted securely.
— Martin Dreyer, Opera Magazine
It is a staggering achievement on many levels with the instrumental, vocal and narrative invention hanging in the head for days afterwards. It’s a landmark piece, not just in operatic terms but as an opera with wind ensemble accompaniment….he and his librettist Ben Kaye take us on a rollercoaster journey via a subject we think we know in a manner that’s unexpected, surprising, and very moving the conclusion of which is not despair but the exemplification of the human spirit.
— Bill Connor, Winds Magazine

The Path to Heaven is a powerful and moving one act opera with music by Adam Gorb and words by Ben Kaye.  

A tale of extremism, expedience and deceit, the work exposes the disintegration of the loves, lives and hopes of a family struggling to survive during the Holocaust. Sara, Hanna, Dieter, Magda and Hans return home from a party to find that having ‘danced too long in the moonlight’, evil stalks them from the darkness. The discovery that their adoptive parents have disappeared triggers a descent into a nightmare from which none will escape unchanged. A meticulously-researched series of individual real stories has been woven into a thrilling new opera for the 21st Century.


dramatis personae

  • Sara (soprano) - the younger of the two sisters, just turned 18

  • Hannah (soprano) - older sister of Sara, has a baby girl, Inge

  • Magda/ Narrator (mezzo) - cousin of Sara, the only survivor

  • Esther (soprano) - ethereal voice

  • Dieter (tenor) - boyfriend of Sara in Berlin, later a Camp Guard

  • Hans/ Cobbler (baritone) - Fried of Sara, Hannah, Dieter and Magda in Belin. Cobbler in the camp, lapsed Rabbi/ Sonderkommando

  • Nazi Officer/ Dr Rudi/ Kapo (bass baritone) - Nazi Officer/ Kapo/ Camp Doctor


2(I,II = picc).0.2(I = Eb,II = bass).1(cfg) 2sax(S/A & A/T) pf/cel 2P (no strings)


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Adam Gorb:

In all my extensive reading around the subject of the most terrible fate to fall upon a race of people in the twentieth century, I am increasingly convinced that the Holocaust was a failure; witness the extraordinary stories of bravery documented by survivors, many who went on to have happy and fulfilling lives, some of whom I have had the good fortune to talk to during my research. The message of hope at the end of this one act opera is symbolised by the metamorphosis of a word sung by the Nazi Kapo ‘Judenfrei’ (free of Jews) to the word sung by the rest of the cast ‘Jugendfreunde’ (childhood friendship).