“Leads the way towards a renaissance of opera.”
Klasika Plus, Prague


Creative Team

  • Aleš BŘEZINA: Composer
  • Alon NASHMAN: Librettist
  • Pamela HOWARD: Director / Scenographer
  • Peter TIEFENBACH: Music Director
  • Patrick LAVENDER: Lighting Designer
  • Marie-Josée CHARTIER: Movement Director
  • Kaitlin HICKEY: Production Manager
  • Laura DELCHIARO: Head of Wardrobe
  • Shaw FORGERON: Head of Props
  • Andrea BAGGS: Stage Manager
  • Danielle LEVY: Wardrobe Associate


  • Ariana CHRIS: Paulinka Bimbam
  • Andrew COHEN: Amadeus Daberlohn
  • Kaliegh GORKA: Birgit, a Maid / Barbara
  • Derek KWAN: Albert Kann / Pope
  • David LUDWIG: Grandfather / Minister of Propaganda
  • Tracy MICHAILIDIS: Franziska / Grandmother
  • Shaina SILVER-BAIRD: Charlotte Kann


  • Peter TIEFENBACH: Keyboards / Dr. Singsong
  • Michele VERHEUL: Clarinets / Tante Hedwig
  • Kimberly JEONG: Cello / Woman Protester
  • Ben PROMANE: Trumpets / Uncle Walter

Arts Partners


The Miracle of Charlotte Salomon

Life? Or Theatre? is the name that Berlin born Jewish artist Charlotte Salomon gave to a sequence of nearly 800 gouaches accompanied by text and musical references that she produced between 1940 and 1942. Before her deportation to Auschwitz at age 26, she handed the work to a local physician with the message: "Take good care of this... it is my whole life." Miraculously, her extraordinary magnum opus survived.

Charlotte was a playwright without a stage, a graphic novelist before such a thing existed, a young woman struggling to claim her voice and affirm her existence. Through painting, text and music, she chronicled the inner life of a young woman coming of age during the rise of Nazism and under the shadow of family tragedies.

Life? Or Theatre?... with its themes of art, love, memory, identity, and history... powerfully resonates today. It has been adapted for the stage and screen, transformed into opera and ballet, puppetry and literature. However, it has never before been realized as a "singspiel," a Play with Music, the performance style Salomon envisioned.

Charlotte: A Tri-Coloured Play with Music is a multinational collaboration with a core creative team from Canada, UK, and Czech Republic, plus seven actor-singers and four musician-performers. The essential quality of our chamber musical is the total synchronicity of word, image, and music. It is conceived as an art installation inhabited by performers in which Charlotte's paintings come to life. Each moment flows into the next much like the waves of the sea in the final images of Charlotte’s Life? Or Theatre?

Award-winning Canadian librettist Alon Nashman conveys the absurdity and passions that shaped Salomon’s early life, alongside the feverish creativity of her years in exile. Acclaimed Czech composer Aleš Březina has composed an original score essential to the soul-baring narrative. Director / Scenographer Pamela Howard, author of the seminal book “What is Scenography?”, literally draws theatre in a manner similar to Salomon, painting the stage with colour and light such that the audience experiences Charlotte’s world being formed before their eyes.


Press & Reviews.

  • Klasika Plus, Prague

    "Leads the way towards a renaissance of opera."

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  • Jewish Renaissance Magazine, London

    "Charlotte Salomon's autobiographical work explodes onto the stage in glorious tri-colour”

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  • Opera Ramblings, Toronto

    "A genre defying work...classy performances... musically and dramatically engaging.”

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  • The WholeNote, Toronto

    "Works like CHARLOTTE: a Tri-Coloured Play with Music... are essential to the survival of the human spirit."

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  • The World News

    "Keeps the viewer's attention from beginning to end”

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  • The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson

    "The music is of piercing beauty and the production supports it in a stunning way."