A fairy-tale opera for the young at heart

Philly Fringe 2022: The Delaware Valley Opera Company presents Liebovar, or The Little Blind Girl

2 minute read
A headshot of Dutka. He wears a dark, plain top, his expression straight-faced.

For this year’s Fringe Festival, the Delaware Valley Opera Company will present a fairy-tale opera for children: Misha Dutka’s Liebovar, or the Little Blind Girl. Dutka, who created the original story as well as the music and libretto, said that he based the heroine’s name on the Yiddish “liebe,” for loved, and the Hebrew “avar,” which means blind. It is a story, above all, about love.

A loving fairy tale

The opera runs for about one hour and presents the tale of a village where the children have been disappearing one by one. Finally, the last remaining child, Liebovar (performed by Alize Francheska), is lured away. Lost in the forest during a thunderstorm, she prays for help, which appears in the form of four friendly forest animals who know where the lost children have gone. They lead her through the woods to rescue them, dancing hand-in-hand to live klezmer music.

As with most fairy tales, The Little Blind Girl has its scary moments—Liebovar is lost and frightened in a thunderstorm, and the villain is an ogre. But you can expect a happy ending. As Dutka said: “You’ve got all these little kids in animal suits just dancing to Klezmer music.” Dutka, a low bass, will also be singing in the chorus.

Parents who may have been doing their own online research should note that this is not the longer adult opera by the same name and composer set during the holocaust. In the adult opera, the inmates write a children’s opera to save their lives. In the Fringe Festival presentation, Dutka imagines the opera they would have written. However, he said, it bears no traces of the original work and remains a children’s adventure with just a hint of spirituality—a prayer for help in the woods, a prayer of rejoicing—in the Jewish tradition.

A short performance of flamenco for kids will serve as the opening act for the evening. According to Dutka, they decided the opera was a little short. The company’s choreographer, Anne Margaret O’Malley, is a well-known flamenco dancer and teacher, so it seemed like the perfect way to start a multicultural evening.

What, When, Where

Liebovar, or the Little Blind Girl. By Misha Dutka. Choreography by Anne Margaret O’Malley. Presented by the Delaware Valley Opera Company. $30. September 16, 2022, at 7pm, Venice Island Performing Arts and Recreation Center, 7 Lock Street, Philadelphia. (215) 413-1318 or fringearts.com.


Audience members must wear masks for the duration of this performance. Vaccination cards will not be checked.

The performance contains strobe lights.

The performance includes closed captioning.

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