On Jan. 17, students at the Project School, located in Bloomington, gathered in a classroom to watch an interactive presentation about the life of Anne Frank. The presentation — the first of a series that will be given to public schools in the community — was given by members of the Jacobs School of Music to raise awareness about the opera and life of Anne Frank.
Anne Slovin, a third-year doctoral student at IU, is playing the role of Anne Frank in one of the two casts and performed select music from the production. Slovin played the role of Anne Frank in the initial 2019 workshop before COVID-19 delayed production until May 2022, and said she felt honored to depict such a historically iconic figure.
“As a Jewish woman, had I been born in 1929 in Europe, I most likely would have had the same experience she did,” Slovin said. “It’s humbling to have the opportunity to represent her onstage and through music.”
The presentation covered not only the life of Anne Frank, but also the events of the Holocaust and its impact on the Jewish people, which Slovin felt was crucial to understand.
“We want students to understand not only the enormity and tragedy of the Holocaust, but also the resilience and vibrancy of Jewish life and culture,” Slovin said.
The music performed during the presentation, detailing Anne Frank’s excitement over her 13th birthday, was composed by Shulamit Ran whom Slovin worked closely with for the production.
“To be able to learn from a living composer is truly a gift,” Slovin said. “Having the opportunity to shape a role and bring it to life for the first time is really exhilarating for me.”
Assisting in the presentation was Sarah Adle Kirkman McDonie, a Ph.D. candidate in musicology at IU. McDonie took the role of presenter out of interest for the original score composed for “Anne Frank.”
“It’s a new musical style different from what you’d normally hear,” McDonie said. “I was really curious to see how the composer Shulamit Ran was going to create a sonic world for this particular story.”
McDonie led the presentation with a slideshow, showing pictures of Anne Frank’s diary which highlighted her inspiring and moving optimism in the face of a frightening and uncertain time.
“There were moments where she would confront what was going on in the outside world and be really upset,” McDonie said. “She created this utopic space in the diary for herself and created an alternative sense of how life would be after the war.”
The presentation concluded with some explanations of the opera, but most importantly McDonie explaining why it was so important to share the story of Anne Frank and to stay educated on the topics surrounding her.
“It reminds us that Anne is just one of millions,” McDonie said. “Her story is just one example of how this affected individuals on a personal level.”
The Musical Arts Center will present the premiere of “Anne Frank” on March 3 with two casts. Tickets are available now through the Jacobs School of Music website.