A Personal Statement from Founding Director Gail R. Gordon


“With its racist ideology and systematic suppression of Jewish musicians, artists and writers, the Third Reich silenced two generations of composers and, with them, an entire musical heritage… We must now mitigate a great injustice by working to revive and perform the music of those whose “crime” was to be Jewish, or deemed offensive by, the authoritarian Nazi regime.  Their music, I believe, is accessible and relevant.” 

–James Conlon


As the child of Jewish immigrants I feel an acute responsibility to champion the work of those whose voices have been lost for too long beyond the veil of war and genocide.  I have been deeply inspired by the work of other programs toward this goal, and Numi Opera now marks my personal effort to give these “recovered” works a home and an opportunity to breathe again in the atmosphere of our rich and diverse community in Los Angeles. 

Alexander von Zemlinsky and Erich Wolfgang Korngold are two such composers. Both wield a stunning and ornate harmonic language and both of the pieces we have chosen for our first season harness that language in the telling of two important stories about human interaction, love and social complexity.  A favorite of Johannes Brahms, Zemlinsky, in fact,  also taught composition bothin Vienna and finally at the University of Southern California. One of his most gifted pupils, referred to him by Gustav Mahler,  was twelve year old prodigy Erich Wolfgang Korngold.  He must have been talented indeed to have made an impression despite the recommendation of the man who had stolen the beautiful Alma Mahler away from Zemlinsky some years before. Over the years the two composers forged a professional bond as oppressed and subsequently exiled Jewish musicians during the rise of the Third Reich. Both made their way to Los Angeles, where Zemlinsky continued to teach and conduct and promote the music of composers like Mozart, Shoenberg, Berg and Mahler. Korngold became a prolific composer for Hollywood films, such as The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) and Captain Blood (1935),  and the first to have a serious and international classical stature. As war raged overseas and so many lives were savagely ended in the camps and on the battlefield, their music was their collective victory and proof of their survival both physically and emotionally. They are both part of the musical fabric of our City of Angels. Numi Opera brings these two powerful voices back together again in our inaugural 2019-2020 season. 

Gail R. Gordon
Founding Director, Numi Opera