When Mieczyslaw Weinberg staged his new two-act opera Masel tov – in German, Wir Gratulieren! – in the Soviet Union in the mid-1970s he was still facing anti-Semitism after a lifetime of disruption and oppression. He had the extreme bad fortune to have lived under two totalitarian regimes. As a Polish Jew in Warsaw he was forced to flee the Nazi invasion, ending up in Stalin’s Russia. His parents and sisters were left behind and perished in a concentration camp.

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In Moscow, like all Soviet artists, he had to...

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