At the Clothing Department (W odzieżowym)
A Three-minute Opera Scene for Six Vocal Soloists and Piano with Live or Pre-recorded Crowd Noise Words by Abraham (“Abramek”) Koplowicz (b. 1930, Lodz, Poland, d. 1944, Auschwitz-Birkenau) originally in Polish. Translation by Sarah Lawson and Małgorzata Koraszewska Adapted by Stanley M. Hoffman.
Words: © Copyright 1993 by Eliezer Grynfeld. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Eliezer Grynfeld. Adapted by permission of Sarah Lawson and Małgorzata Koraszewska. Libretto by Stanley M. Hoffman.
Music: © Copyright 2021 by Stanley M. Hoffman. www.stanleymhoffman.com All rights reserved.
Synthesized performance and scrolling score in search of live performances.
The sheet music is available from the composer and from Sheet Music Plus.
At the Clothing Department (W odzieżowym, literally "In the Clothing Department”)
(A Scene from the Lodz Ghetto)
Cast of Characters
Old Biddy (Mezzo-Soprano or Alto)
Police Ofﬁcer (Baritone)
Boy (Boy Soprano)
The Queue (can be prerecorded crowd noise)
Lady (coming towards the Old Biddy who is standing in the front)
What is this line for, my old dear?
Clothing. I’ve been standing here since the morning!
And what can one get here?
Surely not ermine!
But what? Please, tell me.
Police Ofﬁcer (coming forward)
Do you want to get one in the head?!
Just return to the queue!
Just look, how enraged he is! (to the Old Biddy)
I’m not afraid of you at all. (to the Police Ofﬁcer)
Police Ofﬁcer (with contempt)
To the queue!
(he raises his baton threateningly)
I’m standing. I’m standing . . .
(she goes to the end of the queue)
Lady (to the Old Gentleman who is standing in front of her)
And what are you standing here for, sir?
Me? I need a suit.
I will also take some “drawers,”
stockings, and a dress for my wife,
for her dress is torn. (looking sad for a moment)
And I will take leggings for the child . . .
And will they give you such a collection?
I have protection here.
Lady (looking at her watch)
It’s eight o’clock already and they are not opening.
Eight? They are letting us in at nine.
And there are already a couple hundred people.
Plenty of socks arrived!
How are things in the town, sir?
No rations? . . .
Idle talk . . .
No rations? . . . No rations? . . .
Apparently, a kilogram per head of pig fat arrived at the council.
And butter! Nobody can measure it!
Who is going to believe such rubbish?
I’ve heard from a washerwoman . . .
My good lady, those are just canards!
I do not believe what people are saying!
Boy (running up to the protagonists)
Ladies and gentlemen, you’re standing here is in vain.
Our department is closed today.
That was the order from the council.
(The Boy runs away.)
(The Queue: shouts and protests; the curtain gradually falls.)