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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.

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At the Clothing Department (W odzieżowym, literally "In the Clothing Department”)

(A Scene from the Lodz Ghetto)

Cast of Characters

Lady (Soprano)

Old Biddy (Mezzo-Soprano or Alto)

Police Officer (Baritone)

Gentleman (Tenor)

Boy (Boy Soprano)

Doorkeeper (Bass)

The Queue (can be prerecorded crowd noise)

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Libretto

Lady (coming towards the Old Biddy who is standing in the front)

What is this line for, my old dear?

Old Biddy

Clothing. I’ve been standing here since the morning!

Lady

And what can one get here?

Old Biddy

Surely not ermine!

Lady

But what? Please, tell me.

Police Officer (coming forward)

Do you want to get one in the head?!

Old Biddy

Just return to the queue!

Lady

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)

Lady (frightened)

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?

Gentleman

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 . . .

Lady (surprised)

And will they give you such a collection?

Gentleman (enigmatically)

I have protection here.

Lady (looking at her watch)

It’s eight o’clock already and they are not opening.

Gentleman

Eight? They are letting us in at nine.

Lady

And there are already a couple hundred people.

Gentleman

Plenty of socks arrived!

Lady

How are things in the town, sir?

No rations? . . .

Gentleman (impatiently)

Idle talk . . .

Lady (ruminating)

No rations? . . . No rations? . . .

Apparently, a kilogram per head of pig fat arrived at the council.

And butter! Nobody can measure it!

Gentleman

Who is going to believe such rubbish?

Lady (annoyed)

I’ve heard from a washerwoman . . .

Gentleman (self-assured)

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.)



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