Part 2



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Photo by Winnie Klotz / Metropolitan Opera

Thomas Hampson is “Doktor Faust” at the Met’s production at Lincoln Center.

A Surrealistic View Of One Man’s Hell
DOKTOR FAUST. Music and libretto by Ferruccio Busoni. Production by Peter Mussbach. With Katarina Dalayman, Robert Brubaker, David Kuebler and Thomas Hampson. Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Philippe Auguin. Attended Monday’s opening. Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center. Repeated on Friday, Tuesday and Jan. 20, 25 and 29.



By Justin Davidson


ERRUCCIO BUSONI’S opera “Doktor Faust” is deeply respected and rarely seen. Seventeen years in gestation and still incomplete at the composer’s death in 1924, an obsessive visionary’s magnum opus finally emerged onto the stage of the Metropolitan Opera Monday night, in a production that seemed sure to send the work scuttling back into the shadows. Busoni’s libretto, based not on Goethe but on 16th-Century puppet plays, is grimly high-minded, his music belabored to the point of rigor mortis. The opera opens with more than an hour of throat-clearing — two prologues and an intermezzo before the first core scene (not counting a spoken introduction that Busoni wrote and the Met omitted). It then slouches reluctantly toward midnight, postponing the final curtain with oblique soliloquies and slow-motion processions. A few episodes might potentially come alive — the contrapuntal melee between drunken Protestant and Catholic students and the humorously stately cortege that ushers the Duke and Duchess of Parma toward a blighted wedding day. New York City Opera staged this murderously difficult work with a certain ramshackle nobility and breathless flair in 1992, raising hopes that a little more money and a surer hand on the podium might really make it shine. The Met has spared no expense in stultifying the work, assiduously obscuring most of whatever qualities the score has. Director Peter Mussbach introduced himself to the company with a wintry, slag-colored production first seen in

Salzburg in 1999. Mussbach interprets “Doktor Faust” as a hallucination, which allows him to conjure up a surrealistic vision that doesn’t square with the score’s academic solidity. Faust and Mephistopheles wander stiffly through a black-and-white fantasyland dressed in long, gray coats and matching fedoras. Every so often, the stage spews smoke, snow or fire. On one painted flat, a dramatically foreshortened room is carpeted in fluffy clouds, on another, a nighttime landscape resembles an enlarged computer chip. Occasionally, a note of unintentional realism intrudes: The curtain comes up on graying piles of snow that look exactly like those currently decaying on the sidewalks of New York, which undercuts the dreaminess. When James Levine pulled out of conducting “Doktor Faust,” pleading sciatica, the opera lost the man who brought it to the Met and who might have made a more powerful case for the score. Philippe Auguin bravely agreed to make his company debut under these inauspicious circumstances, took over rehearsals with only a few weeks’ notice and promptly caused the first performance to sink into quicksand. Busoni’s frequently stark, nocturnal orchestration blurred into a mass of soft, velour sound. Intentionally or not, Auguin applied Mussbach’s dream concept to the music, indulging in somnolent tempos and smudging the composer’s exacting counterpoint. Undeterred, Thomas Hampson sang the title role with his usual action-hero bearing, but his performance, like Busoni’s music, wound up sounding lethally studied. Faust is alternately defeated and manically self-satisfied, but Hampson never abandoned his diplomatic equipoise. Robert Brubaker, his voice gaunt and angular, was more convincingly Mephistophelian, but the part’s grueling demands got to him, and he spent a bad 10 minutes croaking. Katarina Dalayman took the opera’s only female part — the Duchess of Parma — and brought a welcome respite from so much baritonal sobriety, mooning over the unlovable Faust. The Met’s intrepid chorus made most of its (sometimes inaudible) contributions from offstage, but when it materialized, it did so with customary gusto.

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Living Proof
A composer doesn’t have to be dead to be in the limelight. These days, some star soloists and conductors are pushing the works of composers who are alive, well and still writing.


Newsday Photo / Ari Mintz

Pianist Anthony De Mare, who also is a singer, dancer and actor, has coaxed composers into tailoring their pieces to his many talents.


Newsday Photo / Bruce Gilbert

Familiar with bars of both music and jurisprudence, lawyer-turned-composer-conductor Harold Meltzer runs Sequitur, an ensemble that presents songs in a range of styles.

T’S A GRANITE FACT of a composer’s life that music doesn’t take place on the page. Even after that last double bar has been written and the date of a work’s completion ceremonially inscribed, the score exists only as an abstract idea. Desk drawers all over the world are filled with theoretical symphonies and silent operas, but the composer becomes a true creator only when symbols become sound. For much of the last half-century, carrying out that metamorphosis was considered a secondary task, best left to specialized technicians. The bulk of new-music performances took place in cloistered settings, with audiences of connoisseurs and musicians who prided themselves on being able to satisfy the composers’ most excruciating demands. But the last couple of decades have transformed that situation, as a perceived crisis in classical music has



proved to be an opportunity. Some enterprising performers have interpreted the decline in the educated listener as license to assume that audiences have few preconceptions. Where nobody is famous, neither is anybody obscure. Suddenly, the unknown, living composer has a fighting chance. The vast majority of performers still draw their repertoire from the ranks of the dead, but a few star soloists and conductors have yanked living composers into the limelight. The violinist Gidon Kremer tirelessly pushed the music of the late Alfred Schnittke while the Russian composer was alive. The cellist Yo-Yo Ma has championed some fresh voices, and his new Silk Road Project has commissioned pieces from a far-flung slew of unknowns. And while the orchestra world as a whole tends to be deeply suspicious of composers who



Glennie appears in recital with pianist Emanuel Ax at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall March 25 as part of the “Great Performers” series. For tickets and information, call 212-721-6500. Sequitur presents a program Feb. 27 of “American Mavericks,” including Randall Woolf’s “The Trick Is to Keep Breathing” and Sam Shepard’s play with percussion “Tongues,” at Merkin Hall, Abraham Goodman House, 129 W. 67th St., Manhattan. For information, call 212-501-3330. Derek Bermel’s selected songs are featured in the Feb. 4 installment of the new-music festival “A Great Day in New York” at Alice Tully Hall. For information, call 212-875-5788. His music is also featured at The Kitchen, 512 W. 19th St., Manhattan, March 1-3 as part of the “House Blend” series. For information, call 212-255-5793. Anthony De Mare’s solo concert theater work “Playing With Myself” takes place May 3-6 at Here, 145 Sixth Ave. (at Spring Street), Manhattan. For information, call 212-647-0202. Jin Hi Kim will headline a program at Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St., Manhattan, March 9, as part of the “Composers Out Front” series presented by the American Composers Orchestra. For information, call 212-239-6200.

Alice Tully Hall Photo

Scottish percussionist Evelyn Glennie has made it clear to her public that living composers are indispensable to her art. still walk the Earth, several of Ameri- in flippers. In “Gobbledygook,” which the group performed at Columbia ca’s leading conductors — Michael University’s Miller Theater last fall, Tilson Thomas, Esa-Pekka Salonen, bass player Lucy Shaw slings her Christoph von Dohnányi, Leonard oversized instrument on her hip and Slatkin and James Levine — have plunks it on the move, giving new powerful attractions to and strong meaning to the term walking bass. A tastes in today’s music. cellist keeps placidly bowing as he Even specialized new-music perslowly climbs a stepladder. The perforformers, who once had to eke out mance is a marvel to watch, and sustenance at the margins of the sometimes astonishing to hear as concert world, have now lured a pubwell, though the group has sacrificed lic that comes to hear them play, a measure of musical finesse and regardless of what’s on the program. commissioned easy scores. It’s the Kronos Quartet that sells In New York City, combining new tickets and CDs, not the legions of music with theater is begincomposers who have furning to look like a movenished the group with matement. The 5-year-old ensemrial. Most startlingly, the ble Sequitur, run by lawyerScottish percussionist Eveturned-composer-conductor lyn Glennie has drawn new Harold Meltzer, presents an crowds into the concert hall annual cabaret of new and for a novel genre: the percusFourth in an newish songs in a vast range sion recital. occasional of styles linked by a visceral A phenomenal musician series theme: “Songs of Sex and who crams the stage with on recent Solitude” in 1999, “Money” instruments and then imdevelopments in 2000 and “Power” next bues them with an unsusfall. Composers have gravipected expressive range, in new music tated to Sequitur’s ethic of Glennie has made it clear to eclecticism and its strategy her public that living comof visual music. For a Merkin Hall posers are indispensable to her art, concert on Feb. 27, for example, Ransince not many of the famous dead dall Woolf wrote “The Trick Is to Keep ones wrote for solo percussion. It Breathing,” a piece that involves a helps that part of her appeal lies in string quartet, a contralto, a “turntable sheer choreographic spectacle. She artist” recruited from the club scene glides, barefoot, across the stage with and a stage director. motions as meditative and precise as Impurity is the point. Sequitur those of a t’ai chi artist, glittering in measures its success not by the approher rocker pantsuit, her face obscured bation of new-music initiates, but by by effusive auburn hair. She prowls the number of unfamiliar faces in the among her forest of instruments, crowd. Meltzer points with pride to finding objects to shake and tap and the flocks of ticket buyers who midunk in buckets of water, or else grate to his events from an interest in dances, dervishlike, from one end of dance, theater and visual art. an oversized marimba to the other, In a similar vein, the pianist hurling mallets at the keys. Anthony De Mare has spent 20 years That visual theatricality is an inestrying to merge his powerful virtuosicapable part of Glennie’s act, but ty at the keyboard with his training others have adopted it as a deliberate as a singer, dancer and actor. Had he strategy for packaging new music. been of a less experimental bent, Bathed in changeable dramatic lightDe Mare might have gravitated to ing, loosely linked by a narrative Broadway, but instead he has coaxed thread and staged by a director, the composers into expanding the reperconcert now often becomes a show. toire for multitalented pianist. The The Gogmagogs, a troupe of ever-willing Woolf supplied him with London-based string players, fiddle at “Limbs Akimbo,” which asks the full tilt while they skip, dip, contort, pianist to rise from the bench and converse and clomp across the stage


Evelyn Glennie: “African Sunrise / Manhattan Rays” (Black Box) with Dave Heath. Due in March. “Shadow Behind the Iron Sun” (RCA). Solo improvisations: “Drumming” (Catalyst), “Street Songs” (RCA), with the King Singers. Anthony De Mare: “Wizards and Wildmen” (CRI). Music by Charles Ives, Henry Cowell and Lou Harrison. Frederic Rzewski / Anthony De Mare (o.o. Discs). Includes “De Profundis.” Jin Hi Kim: “Komungo” (o.o. Disc). Just komungo, electric and not. Due in March. “Komunguitar” (o.o. Discs). Kim on komungo, with various electric guitarists. “Living Tones” (o.o. Disc). Chamber works with Asian and Western instruments. The Steve Martland Band: “Steve Martland Band” (Black Box). Debut CD, due in March.

Paul Dresher, above, and his Electro-Acoustic Band play the music of English composer Steve Martland. tap-dance. De Mare’s standard tour de force is Frederic Rzewski’s “De Profundis,” in which the pianist recites from Oscar Wilde’s jailhouse journal and sings in a pale falsetto croon, all the while playing the dark, sometimes staggeringly virtuosic notes. De Mare’s extended pianism culminates in May with a solo show he describes as “concert theater” and


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that he has given the unfortunate title of “Playing With Myself.” Working with a director, Sal Trapani, he has arranged a baker’s dozen piano works — from avant-garde classics of the 1940s by Henry Cowell and John Cage to freshly inked music made to order — into a story of a man discovering the piano. While a critical mass of performers has begun creating shows out of music rather than merely reproducing scores, composers, too, have gone onstage, either in the belief that they are their own best salesmen or because their inspiration emerges out of the physical act of making music. The Korean composer Jin Hi Kim came to the United States in 1980 bearing her komungo, a traditional Korean zither. Soon, she had adapted the instrument to its new surroundings — collaborating with electric guitarists, electrifying the komungo and composing music that bridges the Pacific Ocean. Her dark, meditative pluckings merge the blues with ancient lunar rites and sound like nothing else. Like a rock and roll auteur, the English composer Steve Martland has built for his music a tight, electrified corps of flexible musicians devoted to playing what he writes. The Steve Martland Band is one of several griffinlike new-music ensembles (the Bang on a Can All-Stars in New York City and the Berkeley, Calif.-based Paul Dresher Electro-Acoustic Band are others) that combine the electric guitar, bass guitar and drum kit of a rock band with a selection of classical instruments. “Kick,” on the band’s debut CD (due out this spring on the Black Box label), opens with an explosive chord and a quiet, burbling marimba. Immediately, an Elizabethan fiddle melody cycles through a thickening, ever-more-raucous accompaniment, frantic with hiccupping rhythms and lurching changes of pace. Like so much music in these eclectic times, the piece is saturated with influences. Echoes of Jethro Tull, minimalism, TV-show house bands and jazz-rock fusion groups such as Weather Report are held together by dint of sheer ensemble virtuosity. In a sense, Martland has picked up a tradition founded in the 1960s by such SoHo denizens as Philip Glass, Steve Reich and Meredith Monk, for whom writing music and performing it were intertwined activities. Glass wrote simple, repetitive patterns that matched his own modest keyboard capabilities. Reich drew on his experience studying drumming in Ghana. Monk discovered that she could give her voice a remarkable gymnastic flexibility, and tailored vocal music to suit it. It took decades before other musicians absorbed their styles to the point that the composers did not actually need to be present for the performance to sound right. The 32-year-old American composer and clarinetist Derek Bermel recalls the much earlier model of virtuosos such as Rachmaninoff and Kreisler, who kept themselves supplied with flattering showpieces. Bermel’s “Theme and Absurdities” is a short, dizzying clarinet solo that spins off into fanciful pyrotechnics, weaving in bits of cartoon grotesquerie, angular modernist gestures, Benny Goodman swoops, baroque filigree, drunken glissandos, klezmer riffs, operatic high notes and theatrical dialogues between the high register and the low. The whole thing ends with a note of humor and hope, trailing off with the sunrise opening of Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra.” This sort of activity inhabited the fringes of the concert world a generation ago, and much of it still takes place in the dingy basement spaces of lower Manhattan. But increasingly, even some formerly stodgy institutions have taken notice of new music. Bermel’s “Theme and Absurdities” opened the first concert of “A Great Day in New York,” an extended festival of recent music made in New York City that was co-produced by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Merkin Hall. Perhaps the most significant thing about that event was that of the 50-odd featured composers, all local and alive, the majority also has had works performed at the quintessential establishment emblem: Carnegie Hall.





have to skip over what you don’t understand and just go with the flow or you’ll fall behind and wind up completely lost. Not an hour to entertain multitaskers, “The West Wing” staff’s banter moves at a relentless pace. Sorkin was a successful playwright and screenwriter before he came to television, and his dialogue is a staccato symphony of conversational nuisances — repetitions, questions answered with questions — that are both familiar and droll. “If you’re listening to a song on the radio, you don’t say, ‘Gee, are there elements of jazz there, and do I hear some folk in there, too?’ You just enjoy the music,” Sorkin explains. “The West Wing’s” remarkable ensemble of actors are virtuosos with Sorkin’s musical language. Guest directors, he admits, don’t always get the unjoke that makes dramedy sing. They can be heavy-handed or err on the side of silliness. No network executive can be blamed for turning a perfectly good drama into an inept dramedy. The tone reflects the philosophy of series creator Paul Attanasio, an Oscar-nominated screenwriter who developed the admired, and largely dark, “Homicide: Life on the Street.” “My aesthetic is that life isn’t any one thing, so I’ve pretty much always done dramatic stories with humor,” he says. “It’s part of what makes a show modern. That leaden, Stanley Kramer, ‘Playhouse 90’ seriousness feels oldfashioned now.” An episode titled “The Mistake,” a hindsight investigation of death by hospital screw-up, shone a frightening light on the banality of catastrophe. Mercifully, no clumsy humor distracted from what Attanasio called its “tremendous velocity.” Maybe if dramedies were less delicate souffles, there would be more good ones on the TV menu. The argument could also be made that audiences can’t live on souffle alone. “Law & Order: SVU,” “The X-Files” and “The Practice” usually stay comfortably grave. “Once and Again” is strongest when it doesn’t attempt humor, and its lame efforts are easily forgiven because it explores emotional territory everyone else on TV has left uncharted. Like a beautiful woman who looks fine without makeup or pretty clothes, and breathtaking when she gilds the lily, some series choose to tell their stories straight, then confidently add wit when they’re in the mood to dazzle in a different way. “The Sopranos,” “ER” and “NYPD Blue” fill that category, accomplished dramas with well-toned comic muscles always ready to be flexed. “Hill Street Blues” — and later “L.A. Law” (a hit from 1986 to 1994) — reveled in mood swings, some emotional, some funny. From the beginning, humor was wired into the show’s concept. Bochco remembers he and his contemporaries were bored with working on predictable scripts they found formulaic. “It wasn’t so much, gee, we should do a drama that is also funny,” says Bochco, who created the show with Michael Kozoll. “We knew people under stress do weird things, and law enforcement often attracts odd personalities. As you talk to cops, as I have for years, you will hear some of the funniest stories. If you’re really doing that world fully, you access an awful lot of absurdity. What people responded to was a dynamic range of human behavior inside an environment we normally think of as extremely strait-laced. We discovered that when you put that behavior, both on the part of cops as well as citizens and perpetrators, next to intensely dramatic storylines, it almost intensifies the humor. Then you hope you’ll have some kind of internal monitor for what’s an appropriate balance between the dramatic and the bizarre. “Of course, you never play this stuff for laughs,” Bochco says. “You play its reality. You have to make sure that whatever story you’re telling has its own internal logic of behavior or else people won’t believe it and it won’t be funny.”

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Vivaldi No Shopping Mall Ever Piped In
CECILIA BARTOLI, MEZZO-SOPRANO. Music by Vivaldi. Luca Pianca, lute. Il Giardino Armonico, Giovanni Antonini, conductor and flautino. Attended Tuesday night. Carnegie Hall.

Part 2

By Justin Davidson


AN THE WORLD’S most famous baroque composer be underrated? Absolutely, which was the point behind Cecilia Bartoli’s concert at Carnegie Hall on Tuesday. Antonio Vivaldi, who was considered a dangerous character in his day (the early 18th Century), has settled into pampered posterity. His craftily bizarre, mercurial music has become a form of corporate decoration. He has been popularized into oblivion. To rescue Vivaldi from his pastel ubiquity, the archaeologically minded mezzo brought to Carnegie Hall an anthology of excerpts from his hitherto utterly forgotten operas. She was abetted by the Milan-based ensemble Il Giardino Armonico, with whom she breathes in synch. Theirs is an agitated, blistering baroque, with none of the prettified trills and greeting-card flourishes of standard shopping-mall Vivaldi. Here, accents burst from the beat, dissonances gnash, violins dash into a scrimmage of sixteenth-notes. Every-

Photo by Robert Spencer

A robust Cecilia Bartoli performs a program of Vivaldi at Carnegie Hall Tuesday night. thing is precise and delicately controlled, but with an undertow of violence. Tuesday’s performances captured the unpredictable, natural ferocity of this music, which comes, after all, from Venice, a city separated from nature by the most fragile meniscus. But not all was disquiet: In the sweetly vernal “Zeffiretti che sussurate,” the singer and a mimicking violinist engaged in a call-and-response, like the dialogue of coquettish birds or amorous breezes. It’s hard to overstate how fresh this music sounded, and how obscure it has been. The standard reference work on opera, Kobbe’s, skips from Param Vir to Amadeo Vives, as if Vivaldi’s 50-odd operas didn’t even exist. It’s safe to say that nobody in Tuesday’s audience has ever seen a production — or even heard more than a few minutes — of

“Griselda,” “Il tamerlano” or “Ercole sul Termodonte.” Yet to judge from Bartoli’s concert (and last year’s revelatory CD of the same repertoire), the 21 surviving stage works include some mesmerizing lengths of music. Some of it is familiar from other guises. The “Winter” Concerto, from “The Four Seasons,” metamorphosed into the extravagantly mournful set-piece aria “Gelido in ogni vena,” from “Farnace,” in which the protagonist contemplates the body of his dead son. Bartoli, riveting in misery and infectious in exhilaration, made it a tour de force of lively tragedy. She was, as always, irresistibly ungraceful. Even in a long Venetian dress, Bartoli had the demeanor of an athlete in an evening gown. She strutted downstage and assumed a bodybuilder’s stance, shoulders hunched, neck stretched forward, knees slightly bent, spine curved into the hint of a C. She accompanied feathery trills with a chicken-like jerking of her head and pushed out her chest for a particularly heroic climax. Afterward, she urged the ensemble toward its final, frantic shudder with a right hook into the air. All this hurly-burly might be annoying if it did not feel like the irrepressible physical expression of a woman who has music pulsing through her limbs. Bartoli projected the songs’ assorted agonies and fury, but beneath it all was a bodily, even carnal delight in singing and the confidence of consummate control.

In Two Plays (and Places) at the Same Time


HICAGO, THE SECOND CITY, appears to be first these days in theater, with “The Producers” in a sold-out pre-Broadway run at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, a new production of “David Copperfield” at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Alan Ayckbourn’s twin plays “House” and “Garden” playing simultaneously with the same cast as the inaugural productions for the Goodman Theatre’s new stages downtown. During performances of the sex comedies — set in the “house” and “garden” of an English estate, respectively — the actors must dash between the two theaters as the action unfolds concurrently. The plays are directed by Robert Falls, the artistic director of the Goodman whose notable New York credits include the Tony-winning revival of “Death of a Salesman” and “Aida.” “It’s been extremely difficult to do but tremendous fun,” Falls says of putting on the Ayckbourn plays. “Keeping them together remains strenuous. An actor may have to vamp onstage while waiting for another actor who is late because he got a lot of laughs on the other stage.” The logistics of presenting the plays commercially are daunting. The theaters must not be more than “a minute and half” from each other, says Falls, and that would mean, as far as Broadway is concerned, snapping up two adjacent houses like the Royale and the Golden on 45th Street. They could “very possibly” work in a large non-conventional space carved into two staging areas, said the director. Or the plays may find a home in a regional theater with twin stages. “I know that the Manhattan Theatre Club is interested and they’ve had a long history with Alan,” says Falls. “We hope to keep the Chicago company intact whatever happens.” The director — who is readying “Aida” for a national tour beginning in Minneapolis this April

(Patrick Cassidy stars as Radames) — said that he will be directing Rebecca Gilman’s new play, “Blue Surge,” at the Goodman this summer. Gilman is a Goodman discovery, having premiered her “Spinning Into Butter” and “Boy Gets Girl” there. (The latter opened Tuesday night at the Manhattan Theatre Club.) “Blue Surge,” about “cops and hookers,” according to Falls, completes the trilogy. “ ‘Spinning Into Butter’ was about race,” he says. “ ‘Boy Gets Girl’ [is] about sex. [‘Blue Surge’] is about the class system in America.” Following “Blue Surge,” the Goodman may play host to the world premiere of “The Visit,” the new John Kander-Fred Ebb musical that was postponed last season when Angela Lansbury dropped out of the starring role to care for her ailing husband.

A Worthy Mr. Dickens
Meanwhile, over at the Steppenwolf (the adventurous company whose “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” begins previews on Broadway on March 16), the lean adaptation of “David Copperfield” by Niles Havergal (“Travels With My Aunt”) has been attracting the interest of commercial producers. Charles Dickens’ 1,000-page classic novel has been pared down to a three-hour drama featuring 15 actors, including Jim True-Frost as Copperfield. Havergal says that he was enormously helped by the fact that Dickens is “a true theater animal. His dialogue and characters spring off the page and onto the stage,” he says. “The characters describe themselves by how they speak, not just by how they look.”

grant from County Tipperary, her assimilation was immediate and complete. “I wasn’t even allowed to be called Kate, it sounded too much like a maid’s name,” recalls the playwright whose rediscovery of her Irish heritage forms the spine of the new musical “Leaving Queens,” which opens March 1 at the Women’s Project Theatre (424 W. 55th St., Manhattan). Collaborating with composer Kim D. Sherman and director Allison Narver, Ryan explored her father’s scarred youth as an orphaned lad who quickly re-invented himself, leaving Queens at age 17 to join the Marines. “I never saw any pictures of his family, until one day I found my grandparents’ gravestone at Calvary Cemetery in Woodside,” she says. That cracked opened the door to the past. “The wildest thing was when my father showed me his father’s birth certificate. There was just an X for his signature. And I got a master’s from Columbia. That’s why people come to America, to educate their children.”

On the Calendar:
Recording artist Taylor Dane takes over the role of Amneris from Sherie Rene Scott in “Aida” on Feb. 27 . . . “4 Guys Named Jose . . . and Una Mujer Named Maria!” bids adios to New York on March 4 at the Blue Angel (323 W. 44th St., Manhattan) . . . Ann Reinking joins Ben Vereen in “Fosse” for four weeks beginning March 2 at the Broadhurst . . . “Cannibal!: the Musical,” based on the 1995 independent film by Trey Parker (“South Park”), opens March 3 at the Kraine (85 E. 4th St., Manhattan) . . . and Adventures in Motion Pictures (“Swan Lake”) has announced that “Car Man,” the London hit based in part on “The Postman Always Rings Twice” and set to Bizet’s “Carmen,” will come to the United States this fall. Next up: their adaptation of “Edward Scissorhands.” Artistic director Matthew Bourne is also working on “Little Mermaid” for Disney. E-mail Patrick Pacheco at Pacheco@nyct.net.

‘Leaving Queens’
Kate Moira Ryan’s name may be as Irish as a shamrock, but she’s not about to start step-dancing. Though her father was a first-generation immi-





Roach Puts a Pedal To Rap-Metal Mix
PAPA ROACH. Quartet releases a rap-metal infestation. Seen Monday at the Hammerstein Ballroom.

Part 2

By Ian D’Giff

Photo by Robert Spencer

Paul Goodwin conducts “St. Matthew Passion” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.


St. Matthew Passion Rises, Rouses at BAM
ST. MATTHEW PASSION. Music by J.S. Bach. Staged by Jonathan Miller. With Suzie LeBlanc, Phyllis Pancella, Daniel Taylor, Paul Agnew, Nils Brown, Andrew Schroeder and Stephen Varcoe. New York Collegium conducted by Paul Goodwin. Attended Tuesday night. Brooklyn Academy of Music Harvey Theater, 651 Fulton St. Repeated tonight and tomorrow.

By Justin Davidson


N A ROUGHENED and scarified theater in Brooklyn, a scruffy group in jeans and rumpled shirts acts out the story of Jesus’ last days as if its members had just heard the news. Musicians and listeners circle a tiny O of stage. Though some have come to sing and others just to listen, Matthew’s story and Bach’s music seem to emerge from among us all in an intense and informal rite. A solo violinist and a countertenor stand consolingly over Peter as he regrets his three pusillanimous denials. The chorus slumps and yawns in a Gethsemane made of chairs, jumping up to overflow its ranks in times of grief and indignation. When Jonathan Miller’s transfixing production of Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion” first alighted at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1997, I neglectfully managed to miss it, so I am grateful for its second coming. This time, it follows Peter Sellars’ staging of two Bach cantatas, deliriously delivered by Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, and with these two events the sound of a great ice floe of convention cracking was heard in the land. Instead of voices squeezed from gowns and tuxedos, now there are characters, faith and pain. To call Miller’s “Passion” staged is a semi-truth, since there are no sets, no costumes and only the barest props. To call it semi-staged is equally misleading, since there is nothing halfway about it. It is certainly not opera, which, with its footlights and greasepaint and yawning pit, exag-

gerates the distance between the bustling world onstage and the passive rows of patrons. It is a concert shorn of its starchy trappings, music given a vernacular veneer — and performed in English. Anyone who came to Bach first through this playful and profound experience would hardly guess at the tedious rigors to which he and his ilk are usually subjected. Those who object to the vulgarization of a sacred text recall those who insisted that the Bible be left in Latin. Surely Bach has nothing to fear from being better understood. It would all amount to no more than a gimmick if the music were not performed with such persuasiveness. Paul Goodwin, who helped conceive the project, conducted with all the urgency and devotion of a recent convert. His tempos never let grandeur get the better of drama, and the numbers nearly melted into each other, with each singer simply materializing from the shadows. Paul Agnew, an Evangelist in a slovenly T-shirt, sang even the “And he saids” with spontaneous pathos. Andrew Schroeder’s Jesus was a man — manacled, terrified and proud, and possessed of a charismatic baritone. The New York Collegium, a band of elite early musickers who sometimes gather under that name and sometimes under others, played with sensitivity and zeal. The performance did have its nicks and ruts. A pair of period oboes remained immutably out of tune. Several vocal soloists coasted on the music’s intrinsic beauty, without troubling to extract its expressive core. For all the fresh directness of Robert Shaw’s English translation, the vowels sometimes turn too soft and round to be identified. The bread Jesus breaks at the Last Seder is an impermissibly fluffy loaf, not a brittle, unleavened sheet of Passover matzo. But even these imperfections had their place in a medium that eschewed slickness and that imbued a venerated masterpiece with a sense of sudden discovery.

ITH AN impressive ability to meld its hybrid of rap-metal and skate-core with memorable melodies and over-the-top theatrics, Papa Roach’s performance Monday night at the Hammerstein Ballroom proved it has the skills to outlast many of its contemporaries. Unfortunately, this Northern California quartet didn’t fully reveal if the band truly has the survival skills of its namesake. With the proclamation that he “feels like ——— Beethoven in this building,” frontman Coby Dick launched into a hourlong abbreviated set of music dominated by songs from “Infest” (Dreamworks), his band’s multiplatinum major-label debut. The band quickly got things started with its current MTV hit, “Between Angels and Insects,” before launching into a rousing version of the album’s title track. Positioned in front of a wall of Marshall amps, guitarist Jerry Horton interlaced the driving rhythms with his metallic fretwork as Dick frantically raged across the stage, swinging his red-corded microphone like a gladiatorial weapon. After announcing “Binge” as “a love song . . . a song about my love for alcohol” and chugging a bottle of beer, Dick led the band into its punk anthem, “Dead Cell,” which was taped for an upcoming music video. Providing the musical backbone was the Photo by Robert Spencer rhythm section of Papa Roach frontman Coby Dick looks like he’s bugging during drummer Dave Buck- the band’s hourlong performance Monday night in Manhattan. ner and bassist Tobin Esperance, who reached their vealed some apparent weaknesses. most fevered pitches during the set’s After eight years of playing together closer, “Last Resort.” While Buckner and five albums already under its belt, stands out as the outfit’s most gifted in- Papa Roach should have a larger bag strumentalist, Esperance needs to tem- of more diverse material to sustain a per his sometimes unwieldy and overly longer performance. Without this and aggressive fat stringing. a unique sound, Papa Roach may be To their visual benefit, the band’s hard-pressed to survive rap-metal’s on-stage style is loaded with more waning appeal and adapt to the next off-the-top-rope gimmicks than a promusical hybridization looming around fessional wrestling match, including a the corner. megaphone, a hand-held searchlight Ian D’Giff is a freelance writer. and ample stage diving. Dick’s front

flip into the crowd during “Broken Home” ended with him being passed around the audience atop dozens of waiting hands. Blessed with true rock-star flamboyance and a powerful voice, Dick stands as the undeniable centerpiece of the band. He quickly established a give-and-take rapport with his audience and maintained their attention throughout, a feat many a frontman has failed at, and to Dick’s credit, he pulled it off with a rarely seen hello-old-friend sincerity. The foursome harnessed the finer points of Rage Against the Machine’s enraged anthems, the eclectic grooves of 311 and Limp Bizkit’s pop appeal, yet, unfortunately, rarely extended beyond that. Herein lies the ultimate success or failure of Papa Roach. While the band showed flashes of greatness, it also re-




Often, too, directors demand not inspiration or personality, but rote mimicry of something they have already heard. Composers are regularly supplied with a “temp score,” a provisional soundtrack cobbled together out of music from other movies, which is meant as a rough guide to the director’s desires but sometimes winds up functioning as a model to be reproduced. “I write concert works because I’ve got something else to say than what I can say in a movie,” Endelman says. “If you start with an embryonic musical idea and you know that spinning something out of that will take 15 or 20 minutes, you know you’re not writing a movie score. And you can’t have a big crescendo in the middle of some quiet dialogue just because the musical logic might seem to require it. They’d fire the composer and get someone who knows what he’s doing.” Freedom imposes a different set of burdens, and a looser set of rules. “The fundamental challenge of writing concert music is the construction of a musical narrative. In film, that job is done for you,” Shapiro points out. At the same time, each medium nourishes the other. Writing for the movies can help hone a composer’s sense of economy and dramatic clarity. Writing for the concert hall can help fend off the temptations of cliche. For now, the traffic back and forth between the two domains mostly leads through the office of one man: Peter Gelb, president of Sony Classical, who has transformed his label into a conduit for movie soundtracks and devoted his considerable powers of persuasion to cultivating the link between classical music and film. It was he who prodded Corigliano toward “The Red Violin.” It was he who signed Tan Dun, paired him with the company’s star cellist Yo-Yo Ma and released the soundtrack to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” which features Ma. It was he who nurtured Goldenthal’s symphonic ambitions and in 1996 released his massive Vietnam oratorio, “Fire Paper Water.” But perhaps the tide will soon transcend the efforts of one impresario. Aesthetically, too, there are powerful reasons why the level of snobbism on both sides of the divide might drop. The freewheeling eclecticism that commercial composers had to develop as a career necessity has become almost standard practice among “serious” artists, who willingly fuse klezmer, rock and roll, Korean court dances, medieval chant and Wagner into a concert concoction. Who could be better positioned to write the Great Postmodernist Symphony than someone who has labored in film? “As a concert composer, you have to go inside your inner sanctum and find your voice as a composer,” Goldenthal says. “At the same time, in film music there’s something very liberating about being pushed into an arena where you hadn’t thought you belonged. It would never have occurred to me to write Celtic music, but when I was working on ‘Michael Collins,’ there was a need to address that culture. It’s like colliding with other worlds.” The point is that neither sort of music has anything to gain from the no-man’s-land between them and the willful assumption that the other doesn’t exist. Integrity can be applied even to the industrial rhythms of Hollywood, and the movies’ explosive eclecticism is not a threat to art. “Once you get out of your tribe,” Goldenthal says, “you’re exposed to the real world where you turn on the radio and you hear polkas and hip-hop and everything else. That’s the world where you have to find yourself.”



WHERE&WHEN The American Composers Orchestra,
conducted by Dennis Russell Davies, performs “Hollywood,” a program of concert music by Bernard Herrmann, David Raksin, Igor Stravinsky, Miklos Rozsa, Dmitri Tiomkin and Paul Chihara, at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 22, at Carnegie Hall. For tickets, call 212-247-7800.


ple connect to,” says Ellis, who has practiced “color-blind casting” that hardly follows Twain’s pre-Civil War setting. “This piece is not about racism,” he says. “Tom makes a journey from boyhood to young adult” in the musical, says Ludwig, meaning that the characters are older than usually portrayed. This way, he explains, “when Tom and Becky fall in love, it’s not so precious. They’re just behaving like adolescents.” As for the romance he’s cooked up between Aunt Polly (Linda Purl) and Judge Thatcher (John Dossett), Ludwig says he’s decided she’s actually younger than the usual portrait of a gray-haired biddy. “That makes her a lot more interesting,” he says. The stove-pipe-hatted Thatcher, too.

“I’m doing something for the children in the hospital and I’m happy about it.”
Clarissa Baquiran Valley Stream

WHERE&WHEN “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” is
in previews at the Minskoff Theatre, 200 W. 45th St., Manhattan, and opens Thursday. For tickets and performance times, call 212-307-4100.

Tom, Huck, Becky

kids making a difference where you live

Every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday in Part 2.

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F IT’S BEEN playwright Ken Ludwig’s job to rework a great American novel into a stage musical, the assignment for the cast of “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” has been to turn some of literature’s most beloved characters — Tom, Huck and Becky — into flesh-and-blood portrayals. All in the interpretation, says Kristen Bell, who’s making her Broadway debut as Becky Thatcher, the musical’s fresh-faced, pantaloon-wearing ingenue. The native of Detroit, Mich., was attending New York University when she got the chance to audition for Becky. Bell sees her character as a “tomboy with an adventurous side, which is why Huck and Tom like to play with her. I grew up as a tomboy myself, so I use all the stuff I know.” Director Scott Ellis says the role was hard to cast because along with the fresh-faced looks, “I wanted an actress with some toughness behind her.” At 20, Bell is older than her character, but she says, “I look young. I’ve never played anyone over 15.” Becky, she says, “is a young woman growing up in a very different time, when the respect level for adults was different.” As for Becky’s long blond braids, Bell wears a wig. Jim Poulos, who plays Huck, is the veteran

actor in the trio, having been on Broadway in “Rent.” He’s even had some prior experience as Huck, playing the lead role in a regional production of “Big River,” as well as doing the early readings for “Tom Sawyer.” “That was a lot of help,” says the Novato, Calif., native, who recalls his mother reading “Tom Sawyer” to him when he was a boy. “I remember she’d catch herself laughing, so I think it’s a story for kids and adults.” “For the sake of the show’s publicity,” Poulos won’t reveal exactly where he falls in his 20s. More important, he believes, “is I play Huck with simple intentions, a lot of commitment and a lot of heart.” Joshua Park is making his Broadway debut in the title role of Tom, having graduated from college in North Carolina last spring. “Tom is a difficult role because he has to carry the show,” says Ellis. Described in the musical by Aunt Polly as “mischievous as a boy can be,” he also, says Scott, “has to grow up in the process. He has to be a kid but to have maturity as well.” “I’m from rural North Carolina, so I’ve drawn a lot on my background,” says the curly-haired, 24-year-old Park, who says taking on the role “was daunting at first because he’s in everyone’s mind. Then it dawned on me that I know this character; Tom’s part of us as Americans.” — Blake Green



Stephen Endelman, composer of “Flirting With Disaster,” with Patricia Arquette and Ben Stiller, is working on a massive work for orchestra and multiple choruses based partly on the Book of Job.

Photo by Robert Millard

Paul Chihara, composer of “Crossing Delancey,” starring Amy Irving, will be highlighted, along with his foray into the symphonic world, at Carnegie Hall.
Photo by Barry Wetcher

Newsday File Photo


Newsday Photo / Ken Spencer

Crumbling of a Great
Traditionally separate, concert hall composers and Hollywood writers now look


N A CURIOUS holdover from old hostilities, the moat that divides composers who write for the concert hall from those who write for film has remained formidably wide. Even as stylistic barriers, hoary prejudices and rigid business imperatives have fallen all over the musical world, the two kinds of creators have guarded their estrangement. Both are professional purveyors of music, both could draw on the same stock of traditions and technology, both sculpt emotions and express personality. Why should they not mingle more? They sometimes have, though mostly outside the United States. The Soviet Union’s most distinguished symphonist, Dmitri Shostakovich, also scored nearly 40 now largely forgotten films. A generation later, the Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu was utterly smitten with the movies and penned dozens of film scores. In this country, a few composers (notably, Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein and Virgil Thomson) moved back and forth with relative ease, while several studio composers (particularly Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Miklos Rosza) sought room to roam in concert genres. But by and large, the two compositional professions have occupied completely independent economies and promoted different aesthetic values. There are indications that those divisions might be crumbling, though for now the signs are too


sporadic and equivocal to qualify as a trend. The with that of both Mahlers, Alma and Gustav, a last two Academy Awards for an original score bold, maybe even foolhardy,˘trick.) And the went to composers reared in the concert 28-year-old Theodore Shapiro, who has become world — John Corigliano for “The Red Violin” and David Mamet’s music man since scoring last year’s Tan Dun for “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” “State and Main,” also recently produced “AveHollywood composers always have made symphonic nues,” a rollicking piano concerto written for Awadaforays — and the American Composers Orchestra gin Pratt. Significantly, both Endelman and Sha“Hollywood” concert at Carnegie Hall on Sunday, piro live not in Hollywood but in New York City. April 22, celebrates some of those — but The most visible and frequent bornow a handful is determinedly straddling der-crosser to film is Elliot Goldenthal, the chasm. The composers’ concert feathe much-pursued composer of “Interview tures the world premiere of a new piece With the Vampire” (1994), “Batman Forby Paul Chihara, the Los Angeles-based ever” (1995) and “Michael Collins” (1996). composer of “Crossing Delancey” (1988), Goldenthal, a faithful Manhattanite who the current A&E series “100 Centre keeps his distance from Hollywood, also Fifth in an Street” and a denizen of the resolutely has devoted considerable chunks of his nonprofit world of foundations, chamber calendar to writing for the theater and occasional ensembles and virtuous recording compathe concert hall. On the coffee table of the series on nies such as New World and Composers rambling duplex apartment near Union developments Recordings Inc. He is not alone. Stephen Square that he shares with the director Endelman, who scored “Flirting With Julie Taymor is the first act of their in new music Disaster” (1996) and also came up with opera “Grendel,” whose pages mingle music of the spheres for the Space Show with music from an animated film, “Final at the American Museum of Natural History’s HayFantasy,” and sketches for a Mexican-flavored song den Planetarium, is working on a massive work for from Taymor’s biopic about the painter Frida orchestra and multiple choruses based partly on the Kahlo. Book of Job. (For his most recent score, for the “For me, it’s the same as the way Beethoven forthcoming film “Bride of the Wind” about the wrote incidental music for ‘Egmont,’ with two- and composer Alma Mahler, who made a habit of marry- three-minute cues, or the way Brahms wrote popuing geniuses, Endelman had to mingle his music lar waltzes,” Goldenthal says. “I’m not comparing




Newsday Photo / Ken Spencer

NBC Photo

Newsday Photo / Ken Spencer

Elliot Goldenthal, the most frequent border-crosser to film, composed music for the movies “Interview With the Vampire” and “Batman Forever,” which starred Val Kilmer.
Fine Line Features Photo / J. Bridges

Theodore Shapiro, composer of “State and Main,” with Julia Stiles, recently produced “Avenues,” a rollicking piano concerto written for Awadagin Pratt.

Wall of Music
to mingle in each other’s worlds
myself to them, of course, but I find it very healthy.” But though Goldenthal has the reputation and the resources to cordon off months at a time for what he calls his “personal work,” the separate demands of two competitive social and musical environments are enough to dissuade most of his colleagues from his kind of versatility. For one thing, the work rhythms are virtually incompatible. Composers of concert music might produce 20 seconds of a piano concerto in a four-hour stretch, feel mentally drained and then knock off for the day, allowing a 20-minute piece to consume several months. Writing for film, on the other hand, is “more a reflexive process than a reflective one,” as Goldenthal puts it — a matter of churning out 45 minutes of music in three bleary weeks. “For composers used to working at their own pace and doing whatever they want, it can be incredibly nerve-racking to work in film,” points out Barry Schrader, who teaches a course on film scoring at the California Institute for the Arts. “You can literally go for days without sleep.” Then there are the mechanics of producing music at high velocity, which require a familiarity with specialized computer setups. The most efficient film composers play along with the picture on a digital keyboard, instantly recording their improvisations, editing them and developing polished, lavishly orchestrated and precisely synchronized demo tapes for directors to audition, cue by cue. The computer then spits out a printed sketch of the music, which is sent off to an orchestrator, who produces a finished score. It’s a system that favors speed, encourages simplicity and can seduce composers into writing whatever music the computer can handle best. For that reason, composers who do skip back and forth say they never write concert music on the tools of their film trade. “Film music I write at the computer, concert music I write with a pencil, an eraser and a piece of paper,” says Goldenthal. If composers from a more rarefied realm might quail at some of the practicalities of the movie business, many aspiring professionals are also lured — by the money, the potential audience numbering in the tens of millions, the insatiable demand for a composers’ creative wares, the guarantees of sumptuous recordings. Whatever a composer can imagine, the movies — the big-budget kind, at least — can provide. A choir of 12 trombones for a two-minute cameo? No problem. A cathedral organ for a solemn duet with electric guitar? Fine. And in the fantasy world of the sound stage, the laws of live performance do not apply, which means, say, that the graceful plinking of a classical guitar can hold its own against a massive symphony orchestra. In film, notes Shapiro, “there are no limitations in acoustical space, and that can’t help but feed the imagination in conjuring up new sounds.” What composer could resist working conditions like that? What the Tinseltown pros might pine for in the symphonic concert world is less clear. Once, it was prestige, an artistic palliative for the effects of having too much money. Today, though, even a major orchestra can confer only the most esoteric sort of respectability. More concretely, the composer of a new piece of orchestral music often has to contend with small fees, curmudgeonly conductors, dutiful musicians, reluctant audiences, inadequate rehearsal time and the reality that a world premiere is much easier to come by than a second or third performance. “It’s a system that seems designed to make a composer fail,” Shapiro says. “It’s stiff and it’s insular, but it’s a challenge I can’t resist.” Despite all its material disadvantages, the concert world holds out one powerful attraction to those accustomed to composing for hire: freedom. No matter how muscular a Hollywood composer’s reputation, it is still the director and producer whose taste and prejudices ultimately control the score. The film composer’s job is a self-effacing one, writing music that draws attention to the picture rather than to itself and that reflects the personality and emotions of the characters, the writer or the director, but only secondarily the composer.


D 30





A Rwandan woman embraces her son, one of thousands born as a result of widespread rape by militia.

Genocide’s Child
10 years after the ethnic cleansing killed 800,000, survivors struggle to restore their nation, their families and their faith
Series begins A5-7

Garden blues: Spring browns

Smarty Jones gets top mark in roses run

A farewell to ‘Friends’




Child born of hate
RWANDA from A6
cide had made them powerful, and they wanted her, at 20 a pretty, smooth-skinned woman, tall and slender. And alone. “They all had machetes, and they raped me right there in the open,” Mutuze says softly, her face hardening and her body rigid. She pressed her fingers and thumbs to her temple and squeezed. “It was broad daylight. As soon as the two of them were done with me, a car arrived and they told me to get up, and I ran off. “It was the most horrific thing. They were taunting me. I was crying. I was sobbing, and thinking I was dead. I don’t know how I found my way back to the factory.”

Alphoncina Mutuze says there are times she’s so filled with disgust for the son she then calls “Little Killer” that she chases after him and hits him. At other times the affection she feels for the boy is overcome by despair. nerable condition, a cholera epidemic struck, killing as many as 7,000 every day for two hellish weeks. At dawn each day thousands of bodies wrapped in straw littered the camps or were stacked by roadsides. At dusk, smoke from tens of thousands of cooking fires rose in the fading light and the volcanoes bubbled menacingly in the distance, creating a surreal backdrop for the unfolding calamity.

Hearing the Story
As his mother describes the first of numerous times she was raped by the interahamwe, Gervais sits quietly on his stool, face in his arms, looking up to his mother without any particular expression and without a word. It is the first time, Mutuze says, that she’d told the story in his presence. It is not a story she freely tells at any length, even at a support group she attends with other victims. In fact, when she first broached the scene at the roadblock, and was asked how many men were involved in the assault, Mutuze hit a wall. Physically and emotionally shaken, she fell into a dreadful silence, and the conversation was abandoned until the following day. “It is taboo for women to even admit they had been gang-raped,” says Mary Balikungera, executive director of Rwandan Women’s Network, which tries to encourage rape victims to come forward to receive counseling and support. “The mothers don’t want to be visible, and some have had their children absorbed in their wider families, so the children know they are members of a family but without knowing exactly who their parents are. Now the mothers are worried about whether to tell the children the truth.”

‘Lied to Save Myself’
In a section of Mugunga, the largest of he camps, Mutuze found herself in the company of 25 others, a lone Tutsi trying desperately to conceal her identity where exposure guaranteed death. Only she and six others in her corner of the camp survived the cholera outbreak. The question was whether she could survive the interahamwe and soldiers of the defeated Rwandan Armed Forces, who controlled the camp as they’d controlled the country they’d just abandoned. “Most of the time I lied to save myself, telling the others I am Hutu,” she says. “But some people would look at me and say, ‘You’re Tutsi.’ Men took advantage of this and took me to their tents and protected me that way. “Some men were claiming me. Because I was young some men were fighting over me. One soldier took me with him, and he always had to fight off the others who were trying to lay claim to me. That man was able to keep me for some time. I consid-


Escape from Kigali
Not long after Mutuze’s ordeal, her factory manager, an

expatriate from the Indian Ocean island nation of Seychelles who was arranging to flee the carnage with his family, offered to take her, too. He got the governor of Kigali, Tharcisse Renzaho, an acquaintance, to write them a letter granting safe passage. Mutuze would pose as his daughter. They fled overland to Goma, in neighboring Congo (then called Zaire), running a gauntlet of roadblocks and easing their way with well-timed bribes. But such was Mutuze’s luck that Goma, which sits across the border on Lake Kivu, also was the destination weeks later for more than 2 million Hutu refugees and the defeated army and


At times I try to will myself

not to beat him up anymore, and I tell myself he is the only relative in the world I have. So yes, sometimes I feel that I am his mother.”
— Alphoncina Mutuze

militias of Hutu Power. They had fled westward in July 1994, ahead of the rapid advance of the mainly Tutsi rebel forces of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, which had finally put a stop to the genocide. For Mutuze, a young Tutsi woman in a sea of Hutu refugees herded into vast camps in the shadow of the Nyiragongo mountains, her nightmares had only just begun. The refugee camps hastily erected in Goma spread out over an unyielding lunar landscape of volcanic rock. In the first few days the miserable multitudes, in shock at their sudden dislocation, milled about as if in a trance, hungry and exhausted. In their vul-

ered this lucky, because there was another Tutsi girl who was gang-raped and she died. Yes, she did die. My life was like that.” But inevitably the pressure built on the soldier to get rid of the Tutsi “snake,” and that he should finish the “work” they had started and very nearly completed inside Rwanda by killing Mutuze. “The man succumbed after some time and sent me away,” she says. “He wanted to kill me at first, but then looked at me and said, ‘Someone else can kill you.’ Another man claimed me shortly afterwards.” Thus was the young woman passed from hand to hand, essentially serving as a sex slave in exchange for permission to stay alive. Then, a few months later, came the telltale signs of pregnancy.



Rwanda today
At 16,000 square miles, Rwanda is slightly smaller than Maryland with few natural resources.

Driven Toward Suicide
“I started feeling sick. I had no desire to eat or do anything at all,” she says. “When I realized I was pregnant, I first thought of suicide, then abortion. I had many bad thoughts on my mind constantly; abortion was the main thought. Unfortunately there was no way I could afford it because it could have been a death sentence if some of those in the camp found out. They would say that is our child; the child is Hutu.” Mutuze fell into a dark mood, brooding, looking for a way to end it all. Early in 1995, when she was about five months pregnant — she’s lost all precise recollection of time save the day she was first gang-raped — Mutuze walked into nearby Lake Kivu, attempting to drown herself. “I felt my youth had gone away and I was useless,” she says. “I had no one to talk to. Those were terrible moments that I constantly wished for death. There was no one to confide in, not even God.” Some fishermen nearby spotted Mutuze before she slipped beneath the waves, and thwarted her. With the cluster of refugees around her by then extra-vigilant, she carried the pregnancy to term and, in June or July of 1995 — she couldn’t tell for certain — Mutuze gave birth to a son in a makeshift medical tent run by Doctors Without Borders, the relief agency. What to call such a baby? Aurea Kayiganwa, advocacy director for Avega, the main Rwandan association

The first white man set foot in Rwanda only in the mid-1880s, more than 400 years after Europeans landed on some parts of coastal Africa and well after the Atlantic slave trade had been brought to a merciful close. This discovery was unfortunate for Rwandans, as the uninvited guest, a German, happened upon this mountain kingdom at a time when “race science” was all the rage in Europe. As explorers, priests and Margaret Mead’s ancestors trickled in over the next decade, they began to write extensively about their discovery of a superior race in the heart of Africa, whose supposedly “Semitic” physical features bore the closest resemblance to whites — “golden-haired beauties in Ruanda-Urundi.” One psuedo-scientist of the era speculated that these might even be citizens of the fabled lost continent of Atlantis. The subject of this excitement were the Tutsi of Rwanda, a minority of the local population who largely exercised feudal authority and also were more prosperous, as herdsmen with a fungible asset, than the mainly pastoralist Hutu majority. The Tutsi, tall and thin and not at all dissimilar from many other ethnic groups throughout central, east and West Africa, had wandered south into these mountains some 1,000 years ago and found the Hutu. The Hutu were a Bantu tribe, not at all dissimilar from any number of groups found throughout the continent. They had broader noses and thicker lips, and in the eyes of the visiting Europeans, were thus an inferior race. A much tinier aboriginal group, known as the Twa, completed the picture. What the visitors failed to notice was that these were in fact not distinctive ethnic groups by any conventional definition. They spoke exactly the same language, observed the same rituals and followed the same system of social organization. They also observed a highly fluid system of social mobility, so that a Tutsi who fell on hard times could become Hutu, and vice versa. There were Tutsi chiefs and Hutu potentates. They also intermarried extensively, so that over time

Government: Republic, multiparty system Chief of state: President Paul Kagame Head of government: Prime Minister Bernard Makuza



Major industries: Agricultural products, plastic goods and textiles Area Population below poverty line: of detail MILESŁ 60 percent 0 25 Major exports: Coffee, tea, tin ore People Major imports: Food, machinery Population: 7.8 million and equipment, petroleum products Life expectancy: Men, 38.5 years; women, 40.2 years Other genocides Ethnic composition: Hutu, 84 Country Years Number killed percent; Tutsi, 15 percent; Twa, 1 percent Armenia 1915-16 1.5 million Literacy rate**: Cambodia 1975-79 1.7 million Men, 76.3 percent Holocaust 1939-1945 6 million* Women, 64.7 percent Russia 1937-38 1 million **Percentage of population older
*Jews only
than 15 that can read and write.

it became increasingly difficult to tell for sure who was what. In 1885, at the Berlin Conference that partitioned Africa among European powers, Germany was allotted Rwanda. But the territory became a Belgian protectorate following World War I. And that was when things really got messy. The Belgians used the ruling elite to continue to run the country but then instituted a system of identity cards that specified each person’s ethnicity. The result was that this froze in place every Rwandan’s identity and social mobility was effectively halted. The Hutu labored under the yoke of the feudalist Tutsi until after World War II, when the independence movement in Africa influenced the Tutsi elite also to begin demand-

ing the end of Belgian colonialism. The miffed Belgians shifted their allegiance to the Hutu, and in a bloody “Hutu Power” revolution in 1959 the Hutu began a decades-long purge of the Tutsi from all facets of Rwandan life. Various pogroms forced hundreds of thousands of Tutsi into neighboring countries, especially Uganda and Burundi. In 1990, the children of those refugees formed the Rwandan Patriotic Front and invaded from Uganda, demanding power sharing and the return of the refugees. The rebels’ rapid advance steadily increased pressure on the Hutu government. Every Tutsi was seen as a collaborator and the march toward a “final solution” to clear Rwanda of all Tutsi began in earnest. Bodies of Rwandan Tutsis, carried by a river’s current, are prepared for burial by Ugandan fishermen in May 1994 after traveling more than 100 miles into Lake Victoria.

www.newsday.com NEWSDAY, SUNDAY, MAY 2, 2004

See RWANDA on A38

Earth and sky
A photographer’s eye catches the beauty of a struggling nation






A largely rural population often relies on the most basic means to transport life’s staples.

In the larger cities, such as the capital, Kigali, scenes more familiar to Western eyes are evident.

Cloud-shrouded hills and dales seem like a divine canopy that once obscured the genocide below.


Heaven and Hell
Scenes of immense beauty and the small moments of daily life afford little hint of the pain that lingers among the people of Rwanda
Manufacturing jobs are part of an effort to diversify the economy.



Hope for the future lies in a new generation spared the horrors of ethnic cleansing.



Her son, her sorrow
RWANDA from A34
for genocide widows, says the anger, despair and shame felt by many a raped survivor can be measured in the names they have given — or have allowed family members to give — their children. “In Rwandan culture, a baby’s name must fit the circumstances of its birth,” says Kayiganwa. This is equally true in almost any African society, where names mark a major event, usually heroic, or are aspirational, a yearning for the good and great things that parents everywhere wish for their children. But among the rape victims of Rwanda’s genocide, children’s names took on a gnarled and bitter quality. In addition to Little Interahamwe, many children born of rape are called Jiyamubandi (“The Intruder”); Niyigena (“It’s God’s Plan,” given a child as if with a sigh of resignation); Mbuzukongira (“I am at a loss,”) or Ntahobitabaye (“It’s not only me.”)

was a lot of tension and we were very worried. We did not know what tomorrow would bring.” By 1994, the regime’s killing machine was in full cry. The United Nations, at the active instigation of the Clinton administration, was resistant to intervention; Washington was still reeling from the killing U.S. Army Rangers in Somalia in October 1993. When the downing of the Rwandan presidential jet on the night of April 6, 1994, provided the spark for the final conflagration, every Tutsi in Kigali was running for cover. Mutuze sought refuge at the factory. But as supplies ran low and desperation rose, she ventured out on the afternoon of April 18, and ran smack into the roadblock where the first of her many rapists awaited. Driven to Goma with the help of her factory manager, she would endure the refugee camp for the next two years.

A Long Trek Home
For all the great complexity of their relationship, there are times when mother and child carry out the normal tasks of daily life, such as working together on homework. vented me from killing it was that I would be killed myself, and killed badly, by those who claimed it was theirs. “I would love to give him away to somebody else who can take care of him.” The instinct for rejection of a child born of rape is very powerful in victims, says Jean Damascene Ndayambaje, an associate professor of experimental psychology at the National University of Rwanda, who has seen many such patients over the past decade. He speaks of a young woman who was so insistent on abortion that she had to be tied down and given a Caesarian. “She totally rejected the child and the child had to be taken to an orphanage,” says Ndayambaje, who heads the university’s department of mental health, in the southern city of Butare. “I counseled her for three months. Even the girl’s family had to get some counseling so they could allow the woman and child to be reintegrated back into the family.” Mutuze says she thinks often how much lighter her load would be if any members of her family had survived the Rwandan Holocaust. village of Musange outside the central town of Gikongoro, the youngest of nine children of a cattle rearer, Petero Gasimba, and his wife, Atanasia Bwumgura, who nursed the young Mutuze until she entered first grade. Mutuze was particularly sister, Bridgette Mukamusoni, who had married and relocated to Kigali, Mutuze moved to the capital in 1987. She never had more than a sixth-grade education, and it took a while before she found a job at the factory, called Sakirwa, where she packed soap and other products. By this time, around 1991, the political temperature was rising in Kigali and around the country. After more than three decades of persecution, including periodic pogroms that had forced hundreds of thousands of the minority Tutsi into refugee camps in neighboring countries, the children of those refugees had formed a rebel army and invaded from Uganda, determined to reclaim their right to live in their homeland. As the mainly Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front pushed steadily into Rwanda, the government mobilized the population into a genocidal frenzy, telling the Hutu that their very existence was in jeopardy. Between 1991 and 1993, killing a Tutsi was no longer seen as a crime. “Even in 1990 people were getting killed,” Mutuze says. “At our factory things were getting worse by 1993. Senior Tutsi managers who were termed accomplices began to get killed. There With life increasingly intolerable in the camps in Goma, Mutuze decided in 1996 that she had to find a way back home. “I was so fed up and decided to walk back to Rwanda,” she says. “At that time I no longer cared whether I lived.” More than a million Hutu refugees would follow her footsteps within a few weeks, but when Mutuze set off for Rwanda by foot, she met only the occasional straggler. The year-old Gervais was strapped to her back for the trek east through the Virunga range, and then southward to Gikongoro, and her ancestral village. The journey took three months, and it was all for naught. Her entire family had been butchered in the genocide, as had much of the local Tutsi population. The genocidaires of Gikongoro, as those in neighboring Kibuye province, were particularly thorough in their “work” of exterminating the Tutsi. Even now, the killing has not completely stopped. In October a survivor was brutally murdered to prevent any possibility of testifying against some of the killers. In early March, five people were sentenced to die for the murder. “The whole place was empty; it was ghostly,” Mutuze says now. “I did not spend even a single night in there. I kept walking.” After various detours for another year, she ended back in Kigali.

A ‘Thanksgiving’
Such was Mutuze’s aversion to her newborn son that she wanted to name him War, or at least Zaire, as a reminder of the nightmarish camp where she became a sex slave. But some of the women in the camp prevailed on her to do otherwise, and she was finally persuaded to accept a name they chose — Tuyishime, which stands for “Thanksgiving.” “I wanted to call him something bad, but these women said that would not be good because it was not his choice to be born,” she says, casting a sideways glance at the boy, who seems to be following the conversation with rapt attention, all the while without losing the gentle smile that appears to be a permanent feature of his handsome face. If Gervais feels any emotion other than general happiness, it never is readily apparent. His is not a particularly active face, save for the eyes, which move constantly to take in his surroundings but almost never betray anything beyond blissful contentment. And so his expression remains constant as his mother says as follows: “I thought of killing this baby. I did not feel even a single moment of affection for this baby. The thing that pre-

America who would like to take this child, perhaps it would be better for him and for me.”
— Alphoncina Mutuze close to her oldest brother, Pierre Hakizimana, who doted on his baby sister, fended off neighborhood bullies and bought her sweets. “He was a trader, and he had the means,” she says, her voice a bit unsteady at the memory. “I am heartbroken when I think of him. He loved me so.” At the suggestion of her

If you know anyone in


Little Girl Spoiled
She was born in 1974 in the




Mother and Son
Seven years after mother and son arrived in Kigali, their relationship remains highly conflicted. Gervais is desperate to win his mother’s love, according to caseworkers from Avega, the widows associa-

Hear Dele Olojede (left) talk about Alphoncina Mutuze and her tortured relationship with her son.

See J. Conrad Williams Jr.’s video interview with Mutuze.

Plus: See an interactive photo slideshow from Rwanda. today and more photos from the 1994 genocide.

tion. “You can see that the child unconditionally loves his mother,” says Kayiganwa, who has worked closely with both, “even after the abuse she sometimes inflicts on him.” Mutuze admits to moments of intimacy shared with her son, though these are few, she says, and usually fleeting. She recalls taking him once to a wedding in the western town of Kibuye, and both stayed in a hotel for the first time and seemed to temporarily set aside their daily struggle. On occasion Gervais makes his mother breakfast porridge, and both sit down to share the meal. While she has no steady job and money is perennially scarce, now and then she finds enough to buy him candy — “which he likes very much” — just like her brother did when she was a child. Kayiganwa, the Avega official, is not surprised by this. “I can tell you as a mother,” she says. “There is one thing that cannot be erased, and that is a mother’s love.” Nevertheless, Mutuze says, her urge to be physically separated from Gervais remains close to overpowering. “I can’t say this is a child that brings me joy,” she says. “If you know anyone in America who would like to take this child, perhaps it would be better for him and for me.” Then she feels compelled to add: “I feel like giving him away not just because I hate him but because I can’t properly care for him. He could end up being a mayibobo [street child]. I don’t feel that this is the life I would want for him.” Were Mutuze to actually give the child up for adoption, Kayiganwa says the mother would likely be miserably unhappy and most certainly lonely. “I think Gervais is someone that makes her life bearable,” Kayiganwa says. In all the many hours of conversations over several days, Mutuze never once refers to Gervais as “my son,” or even by name. Throughout, she speaks of him in an arms-length way, calling him “this child,” or “that boy.” He is in third grade at an Italian-run school for orphans, but she doesn’t know his teacher’s name. “Sometimes when I get annoyed with him I lash out about how he was born. I call him interahamwe, and it’s out and too late before I can restrain myself,” she says. “He asks, ‘But you say interahamwe are killers,’ and I have to tell him he is not interahamwe. “I have never seen this child being sad, despite the fact that I beat him and sometimes tell him that I am not his mother. He is an obedient



Above, Grace Chanzaire, bottom center, with her six children, including, to her left, Nadine Tumukunde, 9, who was the product of a rape during the genocide. Below, mother and daughter share time together.

See RWANDA on A40

KIGALI, Rwanda — The genocide was over, and Grace Chanzaire gathered her six children around her. Her husband was dead and other relatives were either dead or missing. She had something to tell the children, and she could count on no one else to help break the news. Mother was pregnant, she told them, as a result of several weeks of rape by a neighbor, a member of the Hutu militia that spearheaded the nearly total extermination of members of her Tutsi minority. It was the price she had to pay, she said, to save the children and to save herself. “I was in tears when I told them,” Chanzaire says now, 10 years later. “They began crying too. They could see my pain, and we cried together.” Nadine Tumukunde turned 9 in February, and her six older siblings, ages 17 to 25, have over time formed her defensive line against a sometimes hostile world. She is being raised in a protective cocoon, made to understand she shares the same father with her siblings, and to feel that she is a normal child in every respect. That her immediate family appears to have come to terms with the facts of Nadine’s life is highly unusual in the charred emotional landscape of Rwanda, where an estimated 250,000 women were raped during the genocidal frenzy of 1994. Between 10,000 and 25,000 children were born of such rapes. According to survivor groups and organizations tending to the country’s rape victims, more typical for such women and their children has been social ostracism and familial dysfunction. An advocate for genocide widows speaks of a mother of two who was raped by her husband’s killers. She then has to raise a child conceived from that rape along with the

two older children, who knew that their father was killed by the biological father of their baby brother. The most convoluted of Greek tragedies hardly begin to compare with such catastrophe. “Many survivors get disappointed and feel quite depressed,” says Adela Bamuzinre, a case worker with Avega, the association of genocide widows. “And they think life is not worth living.” In her Kigali neighborhood in 1994, some of Grace Chanzaire’s Hutu neighbors, men and women alike, had joined the interahamwe militia, ready for the national assignment of wiping out every trace of the minority Tutsi from the land. Over 100 horrific days,

some 800,000 people were murdered before the genocide was halted by Tutsi-led rebels. But even as the capital turned into a necropolis, and dead bodies were stacked neatly on street corners and boulevard medians, a few of Chanzaire’s neighbors remained loyal and sought to protect her and her children. “Some good Hutu friends we used to go to church with took four of my children and pretended they were theirs,” she says. But the other two children stayed with their mother because “they looked too Tutsi” to pass — tall, thin, with the aquiline features of Somalis or the Fulani of West Africa. They stayed home and cowered under beds while the genocidal fever raged on the outside. Chanzaire’s Hutu tenant, a man named Mupanda, offered his protection, in exchange for her sharing his bed. “This man was taking advantage of me, and after a while I discovered that I was pregnant,” says Chanzaire, now 45. “I could not afford to upset him, because my life depended on him and so did my children’s.” As with most pregnant rape victims, the Catholic woman at first felt shock, revulsion and panic, followed by shame and thoughts of abortion. “I asked myself, what would I tell my children?” Unusually, even miraculously, all of Chanzaire’s six children, including the four in the custody of kindly Hutu neighbors, survived the genocide. In late July 1994, when she had to break

www.newsday.com NEWSDAY, SUNDAY, MAY 2, 2004

See NADINE on A40



Alphoncina Mutuze ponders events that haunt her every day — brutal rapes that left her suicidal and with utter contempt for all men.

Tortured by despair
RWANDA from A38
child, but I don’t know why I beat him often. When I go out and have a little money and I buy him something, I don’t know why I do that either.” To cope with her torment, Mutuze attends a support group of fellow survivors. Members of a Pentecostal congregation with whom she worships also drop by from time to time, she says, especially when she has recurring nightmares or thinks every other man she encounters in the street bears perfect re-

semblance to one of her assailants. “It is comforting — not really comforting, but you feel better,” she says. “I still feel suicidal when I remember the events of 1994, with all my family dead. I can’t say that I have overcome. It is still a daily struggle. I don’t know how I have survived all this so far.” To fend off the attentions of men, she has worn a wedding band since 1999, like a crucifix that might ward off a vampire. Her opinion of men remains extremely low. “Every man is a selfish individual who is a liar and who wants to take advantage of me,” she says, with some vehemence. “So I have decided I am never going that route in my life. Liars who only want

to create problems for me. And I am not even beautiful. Why would anyone want someone like me?” But even in the depths of her despair, she says she

has reason to be thankful which, in retrospect, makes appropriate the choice of a name for her son. While sample studies have consistently shown a majority of


Test of Devotion
Some of the worst atrocities took place on church grounds. So how can a deeply religious people keep the faith?

rape victims were infected with HIV and thousands have died over the past decade, Mutuze is free of the virus. Her propensity to expect the worst out of life led her to distrust the initial negative test result. “I had myself tested many times since I couldn’t believe it,” she says. “But I don’t have it.” What she does have is a son she has convinced herself she needs to give up. “I just wish someone will adopt him so he has a chance at a good life in the future,” Mutuze says. “When he grows up and pursues a life of his own, I hope he will look at me as someone who tried to be a good mother, despite all the difficult circumstances.”


NADINE from A39
the news of her pregnancy to them, the very fact of their survival, and the hints of humanity shown by the rapist, became the basis for her plea for the children’s understanding, and their eventual acceptance of their baby sister. Chanzaire says the rapist in fact did not initially force himself on her, until other members of the neighborhood interahamwe began to demand that he do so lest they handle it themselves. And when he finally did, Mupanda had first to fortify himself with strong drink, she says. He was no longer so reticent after the first time. “I tried to impress the children that since the rapist did not kill me or the [two] children, perhaps he was not irredeemably evil,” she says. “For this reason, you should love this child, your sibling.” It was a nervous and unhappy time. Nonetheless, she says, once Nadine was born, her brothers and sisters rallied around her. “The older ones are so protective of her that they would not allow anyone to tell her that she has a different father,” Chanzaire says. But in a neighborhood so congested that most everyone’s window opens on a neighbor’s, inevitably whispers about Nadine sometimes penetrate the family’s protective shield. A neighborhood drunk once told the little girl of her “real” father, but when she asked her siblings they told her to disregard it as the rantings of a drunkard. “But by now she’s aware that something is not quite right,” her mother says. Still, Grace Chanzaire seems determined to leave as much of the past as possible behind, concentrating instead on the sunnier aspects of life. A tall woman with the bearing of one who considers herself exceptionally fortunate, she smiles often and tries to cry little. Her children are doing well and she expects to be a grandmother in the next few months, thanks to her eldest daughter, Claire Umutoni, who recently got married. “I am thankful that God has chosen to spare me and all my children,” she says finally. “I have to tell myself that I am not the worst off at the end of it all.”




The Legacy of Hate
Over a 100-day period in 1994, Rwanda’s had been murdered. campaign of ethnic cleansing turned the country Ten years later, encouraged by the government into one vast execution ground. For scale and and often with the help of local churches, survispeed, the genocide was the most efficient in revors and killers alike are trying to come to grips corded history, carried out mostly with machetes. with living together in the same villages and In April 1994, towns, howevafter the plane carer awkwardly. rying Rwanda’s In the long president was shot shadow of one down, the governof the centument mobilized ry’s great Rwanda’s Hutu crimes, many majority to physiseek to rebuild cally eradicate the the broken minority Tutsi, bonds that saying the Hutu once held comfaced the prospect munities toof subjugation gether, to exunder descenplore the possidants of their bility of restorformer Tutsi feuing simple One of a number of the memorial sites in Rwanda where skulls mark the country’s 1994 dal lords. trust between genocide, which left 800,000 Tutsis and their sympathizers dead in a 100-day slaughter. When the killneighbors and ers flagged, government-controlled radio exwithin families. Newsday Foreign Editor Dele Olojede recently horted them to ever-more effort. “The graves returned to Rwanda after covering the immediate are only half-full,” one radio announcer proclaimed at the start of the massacres. “Who will aftermath of the genocide in 1994. He was accompanied by staff photographer J. Conrad Williams help fill them?” Jr. A four-part series begins on the next page. The majority of the population proved to be willing executioners, and priest turned against parishioner, teacher against pupil, doctor against patient and, often, husband against wife. When the genocide finally was halted with the defeat of the regime by mainly Tutsi rebel forces, about 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu



To hear Dele Olojede (left) talk about his experiences in Rwanda and see more photos from J. Conrad Williams Jr., log on to www.newsday.com




Alphoncina Mutuze remains tortured by the hate-love relationship she has with her son, born after she was gang raped in 1994.

Her Son, Her Sorrow
KIGALI, Rwanda — Gervais Tuyishime walks in from school. The 9-year-old boy drops his bag and shakes hands stiffly with his mother. Then he sits quietly on a wooden stool. No words are exchanged. Most days are like that, says the mother, Alphoncina Mutuze. Her relationship with her son is an awkward one, characterized by bouts of anger out of proportion to the boy’s perceived infractions, and frequently resulting in hard slaps to his face. On occasion, mother and child unexpectedly allow a hint of affection, and Mutuze embraces her only son, then quickly lets go, as if terrified of crossing a line she has willed herself to faithfully observe. Gervais is the product of the gang rapes and sexual slavery his mother was subjected to 10 years ago during the Rwandan genocide, when the Hutu majority slaughtered about 800,000 of the minority Tutsi and their Hutu sympathizers. The dead included every member of Mutuze’s family — her parents as well as all eight siblings.

Children born to Tutsi women raped by Hutu marauders serve as a constant reminder of the divisions that still plague the nation
As a result, Gervais represents two irreconcilable symbols for his mother. He serves as a reminder of the terrible violation that drove her to attempt suicide by drowning. At the same time, the boy is the only known relative she has left. “I really don’t hate him but I feel this child is not mine,” Mutuze says quietly, a constant refrain over several days of interviews in her one-room hilltop home in an empty-pockets neighborhood of this capital. “This child is not mine. I could not imagine how I would nurse this child. I wanted to kill this child. I looked at him and I wanted to kill him. I beat him even when I was still nursing him. I beat him even now. “At times I try to will myself not to beat him up anymore, and I tell myself he is the only relative in the world I have. So yes, sometimes I feel that I am his mother.” Mutuze’s fitful attempts to reconcile herself with her unwanted son offer a ground-level view of a larger struggle in Rwandan society, among individuals and between communities, to fashion a workable coexistence in a post-genocide society. Compelled to live together under conditions of grinding poverty, emotional turmoil and daily desperation, killers and survivors alike are feeling their way around the possibility that they could rebuild the everyday trust necessary for the normal functioning of a community shattered by genocide. At its most fundamental, the genocide was an act of monumental betrayal, organized by the government in the service of the ideology of Hutu Power, which insisted there wasn’t enough room in this small central African country for the Tutsi. The majority of the population



proved to be willing executioners, and priest turned against parishioner, teacher against pupil, doctor against patient and, often, husband against wife. “The challenge of the genocide is not simply the killing, but that husband killed wife and father killed son, and the whole moral foundation of the country was destroyed,” says Domitira Mukantaganda, vice president of Rwanda’s supreme court, who also oversees a grassroots quasi-judicial process designed to promote reconciliation more than the mere imposition of justice. In this traumatized country, few groups are grappling with the legacy of the genocide with more difficulty than the thousands of women raped by the militia that spearheaded the mass killings of 10 years ago. While precise statistics are unavailable, largely because a public discussion of rape remains taboo and victims are loath to come forward, officials say about 250,000 Tutsi women were victimized. Children born of such rapes are estimated at be-


tween 10,000 and 25,000. Rape victims share in common with other genocide survivors the loss of family members and large-scale dispossession. But a majority of them also have to contend with HIV and the ravages of AIDS. And many, like Mutuze, are struggling to accept the children from these unwanted encounters, and to answer uncomfortable questions from restless 9-year-olds dealing with neighborhood taunts regarding the peculiar details of their births. “I was so ashamed of him,” she says. Her emotions boil over and she sobs, startling herself. “Sometimes I just cry unexpectedly,” she says, “without knowing what has caused it.”


One Day in April
On the afternoon of April 18, 1994, Mutuze ventured out of the Kigali confectionery factory where she had taken refuge for more than a week as a convulsion of killing seized hold of the city. She was desperate for food. But this was a terrible time to walk around any neighborhood in Kigali. Since the genocide began April 7, following the killing in a plane crash of President Juvenal Habyarimana, the city had been completely overrun by the interahamwe, backed by government soldiers, who set up roadblocks everywhere and murdered and pillaged at will. Mutuze came to a roadblock nearby, in the Kicukiro neighborhood. “That was when I saw those people.” The roadblock was manned, she says, by five thugs, all of whom she knew peripherally at the factory where she worked packing cookies, candies and cooking oil. They were casual laborers there in more normal times, and went by nicknames such as Head Coach. But now they were drunk on banana beer and the geno-

The House on the Hill
Mother and son share a simple one-room house, a brick and mortar structure built four years ago with the help of a survivors’ group. The main section holds simple furnishings — two plastic chairs, a wooden table and bench. Pictures of Christ and a few choice quotes from the Book of Psalms, a staple of any Rwandan household, adorn the walls. Mother and son sleep in an alcove to the side. Corrugated iron sheets overhead provide some defense against the elements. Sunlight streams through a couple of perforations in the roof. This was a step up from their temporary accommodations amid disdainful neighbors, an existence made worse by the arms-length treatment from old friends ashamed of the unspeakable circumstances of Mutuze’s motherhood. The two had moved from dwelling to dwelling, occasionally even sleeping out in the open. “Some of the people, they couldn’t bear to look at the child because of who he was,” Mutuze says. Neighborhood kids called him names. A favorite was “Little Interahamwe,” after the feared militia of machete-wielding killers who hacked hundreds of thousands to death during the genocide. Interahamwe means “those who fight together” in the Kinyarwanda language. “This boy leads a very difficult life,” she says, her granite face softening briefly as she considers her son sitting on a low stool, impassive. “He’s cheerful enough but everyone knows the circumstances of his birth. So other children call him Little Interahamwe. They call him this so constantly that he came to ask me what interahamwe means. I told him that these were people who killed a lot of people and were mass murderers.” Gervais just sits, quiet, speaking only when spoken to, and then only monosyllabically. A slight boy with a happy face, he exists in the straitened conditions of a child whose mother at once embraces and rejects him, and whose father is a rapist with an identity impossible to establish. With his moth-

Alphoncina Mutuze and her son, Gervais, live in simple one-room house in Kigali.

TODAY More than 10,000 children were born from rapes that occurred during the genocide, stretching social and family ties to their limits. TOMORROW The role of the church in the mass killings leaves many in this deeply religious nation looking for answers. TUESDAY So many Rwandans took part in the genocide, courts are fighting an uphill battle to bring the guilty to justice. WEDNESDAY In the new Rwanda, victim and victimizer may still live next door, reopening old wounds and posing a challenge to reconciliation.

er’s entire family murdered, the boy is even denied the protective embrace of the typical African extended family, which could have helped absorb the shocks of his young life.

In anger and perhaps in frustration, Mutuze at times similarly disparages her son, calling him Little Killer, “when I couldn’t bear the sight of him.” When he was 6, she wouldn’t let him out to

play for an entire year, even when she was out working and he was alone, because she was tired of the whispering and name-calling that his sight provoked in the neighbors.

See RWANDA on A34

www.newsday.com NEWSDAY, SUNDAY, MAY 2, 2004

As Mutuze goes about daily chores outside her home, her son, Gervais, keeps his distance.



Testing their faith
FAITH from A6
lowed by the church hierarchy in Rwanda, is that individual priests, and not the church, must be held accountable for the genocide.

Church and State
With the possible exception of the government, the Roman Catholic Church was the most powerful institution in Rwanda. It always had been intertwined with the political establishment. The church ran 60 percent of Rwandan schools, even enforcing strict quotas that limited Tutsi enrollment to their proportion of the overall population. It operated clinics and relief services. In the rural areas, which accounted for nearly 90 percent of the population, often the church functioned effectively like the social services department of the government. Until the pope ended the practice in 1990, the archbishop was a member of the ruling council of the ruling party, whose primary ideology of Hutu Power defined itself as anti-Tutsi, and eventually metamorphosed into a campaign to turn Rwanda into the exclusive preserve of the Hutu majority. Ntihinyurwa’s predecessor, Archbishop Vincent Nsengiyumva, was a member of the Hutu Power cabinet that presided over the genocide. (He was killed in June 1994 in a revenge shooting by rebel soldiers, who held him responsible for the genocide.) Church documents show that priests even adopted the language of the genocidaires, routinely referring to Tutsi as inyenzi, or cockroaches. Today the church co-exists warily with the government of President Paul Kagame, a Tutsi whose rebel Rwandan Patriotic Force halted the genocide by defeating the army of the old regime. Several priests have been found guilty of complicity in the genocide, and dozens remain in jail, along with some 100,000 genocide suspects. The most senior cleric charged so far, a bishop, was found not guilty. “In the beginning the government blamed the church for not stopping the genocide,” Archbishop Ntihinyurwa says. “The church defense was that our only weapon was the word of

Former nun Anunciata Mukagasana, foreground, witnessed atrocities at the monastery; today she’s a pediatric nurse at a hospital in Butare, and supports her entire family, above with friends, in a “life of hardship.”

A matter of faith
Once the most Catholic of all the African nations, post-genocide Rwanda has seen a shift away from Catholicism and toward new forms of piety, particularly Islam.

Total population

7.8 million
Catholic 62.0%

Total population

8.1 million
Catholic 49.6%

Others/ none


Protestant, evangelical/ charismatic


Protestant, evangelical/ charismatic


Islam 1.1

Other/None 1.8

Islam 4.6

NOTE: Statistics vary widely due to the absence of reliable census material; some reports place current percentage of Muslims as high as 15 percent. Post-genocide figures are from U.S. Department of State and Johns Hopkins University 2001 study.


God, and the word of God was no longer being listened to.”

Violence in Butare
The genocide commenced in earnest after the plane carrying President Juvenal Hab-

yarimana was shot down on the night of April 6, 1994, as it approached Kigali airport. But the violence took nearly two weeks to spread to Butare province, alone of the country’s 12 prefectures in initially resisting state-sanc-

tioned murder. Mild-mannered in its climate and moderate in its politics — perhaps on account of the concentration of the country’s intellectuals at the National University — Butare set itself apart for a while from the genocidal frenzy radiating outward from Kigali to the rest of the country. Opposition Hutu politicians predominated in the province, which also had the country’s only Tutsi prefect, Jean-Baptiste Habyarimana. Hutu were reluctant to kill Tutsi and, so, on April 19, 1994, the interim president, Theodore Sindikubwabo, a Butare native, visited Butare to rally local officials. He expressed disappointment that they were failing to carry out their communal responsibility — their umuganda — by not mobilizing the population to de-Tutsify the prefecture. That same day, mass killings began throughout the region. The Tutsi were on the run. In April 1994, as the Tutsi of these parts were driven from their homesteads and sorghum fields by drunken members of the interahamwe militia, they began to funnel downhill toward the monastery, seeking refuge. Some had family there, but most simply acted on the assumption that the only inviolable sanctuary available to them was the house of God. It was not an unreasonable assumption. In all the previous anti-Tutsi pogroms, in 1959 and then in 1961-63, there’s no record of anyone ever killed



Listen to Dele Olojede (above left) talk about the nuns’ betrayal. Hear J. Conrad Williams Jr. discuss the story behind his photos. Plus, get past installments in this series, a photo slideshow from Rwanda today and a chance to talk about Rwanda then and now.

within a church compound. The monastery sits near the base of a series of hills. At its entrance is a large health center. An immaculately kept garden dotted with gazebos conveys a sense of tranquility. The administrative building complex, where the monastery intersects as needed with the secular world, sits at the end of the driveway. Church buildings and other facilities are scattered around and about. And partially hidden from view are the nuns’ quarters. Above the monastery the hills rise into the distance, covered by pine, stands of eucalyptus, and banana groves. The land, to paraphrase the South African writer Alan Paton, is green and rolling, and is beautiful beyond any singing of it.


A Malevolent Duo
The assumption by the frightened Tutsi of the inviolability of the monastery did not count on the simmering malevolence of the mother superior,

Sister Mukagango, and her deputy, Sister Julienne Kisito. “Our family members ran to the monastery expecting to find sanctuary,” says Bernadette Kayitesi, a nun who also left the order in the aftermath of the genocide. “But what happened — our mother superior was the one who began requesting for the militia to come and kill them.” Over the coming days, Kayitesi’s two brothers hiding in the compound would be killed as the mother superior worked closely with the interahamwe — “those who fight together” — to clean the refugees out of the monastery compound. “I did not know,” Kayitesi would marvel today, shaking her head, “how a person we thought was good came to be so evil.” Within two days, about 7,000 Tutsi were packed into the monastery compound, most at the health center near the main entrance. According to other nuns, the mother superior grew increasingly agitated, saying the militia should get rid of the refugees and insisting that she didn’t want to jeopardize the monastery. In interviews in Belgium before she was convicted in June 2001, Mukangango denied collaborating with killers. “These charges against me are false because they attribute to me intentions I never had,” she told Belgian television. But like many other witnesses, Anunciata Mukagasana, one of the Sovu nuns who is Tutsi, says the mother superior acted promptly to turn the refugees over to the killers. “As the refugees came, her heart hardened,” she says of Mukangango. “She worked closely with Rekeraho, who was in the monastery every day.” For three months in 1994, Emmanuel Rekeraho was the most-feared man in Sovu. A retired army warrant officer, he took charge of the militia and directed the attacks on the refugees seeking shelter in the monastery. He also was given use of the monastery’s minivan, and held meetings daily with the mother superior and her second in command, Sister Kisito. “I had good relations with the sisters,” he says in an interview on death row in Butare Central Prison. “We were working together as one.” Rekeraho described how he coordinated repeated attacks on the refugees barricaded inside the health center, using grenades and rifle fire, and then directing the militia to finish off survivors with studded clubs and cutlasses. A few hundred hiding in a nearby parking garage were simply burned alive, with gasoline allegedly supplied by Kisito, whose brothers were mem-



Bernadette Kayitesi works in a market stall while her husband pursues a sociology degree in college.

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KIGALI, Rwanda — To get as far away as possible from her former life as a nun, Bernadette Kayitesi got married five years ago and had a son. The wedding, she noted, was at a registry, not a church. She even changed her first name from Marie-Bernard — “that was my nun name” — to leave no doubt in her own mind that this was anything but a fresh start. Kayitesi is seeking refuge in the temporal world, which to her has every appearance of being superior to the life she had chosen as a nun of the Benedictine Order, sequestered away in the monastery at Sovu, in southern Rwanda. The 1994 genocide stripped her of any illusions of the holy community of sisters that she had imagined when she entered the order in 1986. “I thought this was a joyful place to be, a hopeful place to be, where I could serve God,” she Kayitesi left the Benedictines after the genocide, says, holding on to her and had a son, Clement, who was born in 2000. 4-year-old son, Clement Gasangwa, in their Kigali home one re- go, and her deputy, Sister Julienne cent evening. “I became a nun expect- Kisito. The nuns denouncing them, ining that I would be in a place of sis- cluding Kayitesi, were ostracized and ters in the faith, of family members. many of them returned to Rwanda But it did not turn out that way.” angry and disappointed. Ten years ago, as the government In August 1995, the order sent a mobilized the majority Hutu to kill all white priest, the Rev. Andre Comblin, members of the minority Tutsi in fur- who had once lived in Rwanda, to try therance of a goal of a Hutu-only to persuade the nuns to write a statecountry, many Tutsi who lived in hill- ment absolving the mother superior top villages around the monastery, of any responsibility for the monasjust outside the town of Butare, tery massacre. They refused. sought refuge on the grounds of the “This persuaded me that there was monastery. Among them were two of nothing about God going on here,” Kayitesi’s brothers. Kayitesi says. But the mother superior, acting as With attempts to cover up for the many religious leaders did, called in mother superior fast crumbling, Belthe killers instead. Kayitesi’s brothers gian authorities arrested her and Siswere butchered, along with about ter Kisito and held them in jail facing 7,000 others. Nine of the 36 nuns also allegations of genocide. In June 2002,

were killed. “This was a total betrayal of everything I believed in,” she says. “It totally upset everything I had assumed.” Her shaken faith was delivered a final blow after the surviving nuns were evacuated to the headquarters of their order in Belgium at the end of the genocide. There, an embarrassed church hierarchy reacted to the scandal by rallying behind the accused mother superior, Gertrude Mukangan-

both were finally convicted and sentenced to 15 and 12 years respectively. In January 1996, five months after the visit from Comblin, Kayitesi finally left the order and moved to Kigali to stay for a while with her sister, supporting herself with petty trading in consumer goods. “When I walked out of there I felt a certain relief,” she says, “but also sadness that what I had dedicated my life to was coming to an end.” She met Onesphore Gasangwa, who worked at an orphanage, after an aunt introduced them in 1998. A year later, they married. In May 2000, Clement was born. His mother was 41 then. While Kayitesi runs her stall in the local market, her husband is studying full-time for a degree in sociology. Their home gives every appearance of a life restarted. It is sparsely furnished, but spacious and neatly kept. The only decorations on the walls are images of Jesus, suffering the children to come to him. married This new life, Kayitesi says, suits her just fine. “Compared with what others suffer, I am doing very well,” she says. “I have not lost everything.” For this reason, she says, she clings to some faith that Christianity transcends its earthly representatives, that God remains good despite everything that happened. So she goes to church on Sunday, with Gasangwa and their little boy, close enough to her religion but, perhaps, not enough to be singed again. She says she wished a way could be found to compensate the survivors, but that suing the church might be wishful thinking. “How can you sue the church?” she says, a tone of awe noticeable in her voice. “What court do you take the church to? The church is too powerful. It is beyond the reach of people like us.”

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Guided by a ray of hope
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bers of the interahamwe. In his hot-pink prison uniform, Rekeraho affects the befuddlement of someone whose actions were so extreme they were a surprise even to himself. “In those days, people had been turned to animals,” he says. “You should have seen the faces — just like animals. “I accept a role in the killings, by commanding the militia who were there,” he adds, “but I cannot accept that I am one of the architects of the genocide.” Rekeraho, 65, is aware that the “architects” are the only ones the government is not prepared to grant amnesty. In 1999 he was sentenced to die, but the sentence has not been carried out by the government because officials are debating whether to ban capital punishment.

Emmanuel Rekeraho, above, directed the attacks on the monastery; he was sentenced to death in 1999. Sister Anastasie Mukamusoni, the current mother superior at Sovu, helped Tutsis cross the border into Congo.

Refuge in Belgium
Like Regine Niyonsaba, whose family paid to be shot rather than hacked to death, Anunciata Mukagasana fled disillusioned from the monastery, unable to reconcile what she witnessed with the tenets of her faith. “I couldn’t imagine that people could be killed in a place like that, in God’s house,” she says. “The monastery was very big and it had many hiding places. But Sister Kisito and the mother superior, they were never merciful at all. They used ladders to check if people were hiding on the roofs. The did not have the hearts of Christians.” Once the mainly Tutsi forces overran the country and the genocide ended, the sisters were evacuated to the main abbey of the Benedictines in Maredret, Belgium. As they left the monastery, the surrounding countryside bore every evidence of the horror. “We drove away and there were dead bodies everywhere, by the roadside, everywhere,” Mukagasana says. “We were just waiting for death. We could not imagine that we would survive.” But so distraught were many of the nuns that, as soon as they arrived in Belgium, they started denouncing the mother superior. They were shocked, however, by the reaction of the church authorities, who rallied behind Sisters Mukangango and Kisito and tried to suppress any information about their complicity.


“We were more than surprised that the church in Belgium was supporting her — it was painful,” Mukagasana says. “The whites thought that the mother superior was a saint, until they came here in 1995 to take testimony from witnesses. They had thought we just hated her.” Angered and demoralized by the attitude of the church leaders, Scholastique Mukangira, one of the Sovu nuns, demanded that she be allowed to return to Rwanda at once. She had lost two relatives in the monastery massacre,

forced into the hands of the interahamwe by the mother superior. She had coped with the killings by praying with ever more dedication, at one point, she said, directly asking for divine intervention. “I asked Jesus myself, ‘Do you accept that all of us should be killed, and wipe out this order?’ ” she says one recent morning in the reception hall of the monastery. ‘I know you are kind and you have power over everything. Use your power to save some of us, so that the order might not perish.’

“That gave me the strength to carry on. I was no longer afraid of death. I was strengthened throughout the war that, no matter what happened I shall be with Jesus.”

‘She Rebuilt Us’
That this serene compound was the scene of one of the worst atrocities of 10 years ago is today not readily apparent. That nascent recovery is the handiwork, in large part, of the current mother superior, Anastasie Mukamusoni. Sister Mukamusoni took over the defiled institution in

1995, rallied the six remaining nuns to take eternal vows to rededicate their lives to the service of Christ, admitted nine new novices and methodically set about the task of revival. A shy woman with a perpetually mournful look, the mother superior spoke softly and gazed constantly downward, talking with evident discomfort about the monastery’s progress. “When you are building the body you have to start with the soul,” she says. “We have to start with the renewal of our faith with the church.” Sister Mukangira returned home and found her way back to the monastery, where she remains today, working with the new mother superior to try to pick up the pieces of a ministry destroyed. “During the genocide, because of what I saw, I can say that God did not have a role in the genocide,” she says. “And we cannot say that all Christians failed their religion. There were many who did the right thing.” At this, she cast a glance at the mother superior, who looked embarrassed and seemed to want to hide. Mukamusoni, then a 40-year-old nun, was away on church business in the border town of Gisenyi when the genocide came to the Sovu monastery. A Hutu, she is said to have arranged secret convoys to take Tutsi across the border to safety in neighboring Congo. “She protected those who were being hunted,” Mukangira says. “And she was the very person who called us back from Belgium. She rebuilt this place. She not only rebuilt the monastery but she rebuilt us.” While Mukangira has found reason to believe, and to continue life as a nun, Anunciata Mukagasana said she had no choice but to turn her back on the Benedictine Order. “I just wanted to take a break from it because I would run mad if I stayed there,” she says. Her family, which had fled to neighboring Burundi at the outset of the genocide, had returned home, and she wanted to care for her parents. So she cast off her habit and enrolled in nursing school, and today she is a pediatric nurse at University Hospital in Butare, the only one with a job in her extended family of 14, including her younger sister’s three children. The family lives in neat but cramped conditions in the Matyazo district of Butare, in a neighborhood of few means and multitudes of malnourished children. In Mukagasana’s household, food is often in short supply. “It is a life of hardship,




Many Rwandans in the predominantly Christian nation hold firm to the belief that God was not responsible for the carnage a decade ago. “God never plans for bad things to happen,” says one. and sometimes it’s hard to find milk for the children,” she says with an embarrassed laugh. “The meals are not decent, but there is no other option.” At this, Mukagasana’s voice caught just a bit, and she asked for a glass of water to steady herself. The living room was painted coral blue, the best to cheer up its threadbare condition. The walls were decorated with the inevitable portraits of Jesus, who is said to be constance — eternal. The portraits were an indication of the continuing hold of Christianity on Mukagasana’s imagination. Despite everything, she said, she remained a good Christian and believed in God, even if she no longer quite trusted His earthly messengers. “There are those who turned their backs on Christianity altogether, after what they experienced,” she says. “I think to some extent they have reason. They’ve lost everything, and it seems God forgot them. But I go to church because whatever happened, God did not have a hand in it.” Besides, Mukagasana adds, “Other people died, but it was due to God’s mercy that I survived. It was due to God’s mercy that my family was able to escape to Burundi.” Nwambaye, who survived the genocide, and she felt responsible for her. So she took a secretarial job at a local school, then later, at a pharmaceutical firm. “One of the things that keeps me going is prayer,” says the former novice, who packs every day with distractions to help her retain a hold on sanity. For spiritual support, she attends morning sessions of a charismatic Catholic community. She holds down a day job, and afterward rushes off to the university, where she’s taking evening classes for a degree in sociology. “I have had no time to think about the past,” she says. “It took me a long time to adjust. It is not easy for me.” After a decade-long struggle, including bouts of depression and moments of rage, Niyonsaba said she had reached an accommodation with her faith. “Since the passage of 10 years, instead of demoralizing myself, I thought it was not only me who had lost relatives because of church leaders’ role in the genocide,” she says. “I was not the only witness to the scandals in the church. I thought God had helped me to survive. Genocide wasn’t planned by God. He gave us knowledge, free will, to do the right thing. God never plans for bad things to happen.” But doesn’t necessarily prevent them, either? Prim in a checkered custard suit with a sensible skirt, Niyonsaba pondered the question for a moment, her charcoal-black face set off against the stark blankness of the wall, serene in the soft glow of the fluorescent light. She turned slowly away, silent. “How can a Rwandan continue to identify as a Christian?,” Rutazibwa, the former priest, asked rhetorically regarding the endurance of faith. “That is part of the mystery of the faith. Despite the horrors, people always need a relationship with a supreme being.” At the monastery, the current mother superior said all she could do now was carry on her calling, which is to serve God. “I saw others die, but I stayed alive,” she says. “Since I took the eternal vow, the only thing to do was stay here and serve the Lord. That was the only way I could pay back the gift of life that I was given.” And with that, she rose and walked out to the garden, down a footpath, and to a mass grave in which nine of her fellow nuns killed during the genocide were buried. She observed a moment of meditative silence, did the sign of the cross, and headed back to the well-ordered sanctuary of her domain.

Reason to Believe
Regine Niyonsaba did not have the luxury of her family’s company. Her father and brother had been killed at the monastery’s health center, and she had witnessed the execution of her mother and two younger sisters, and buried them with her own hands. When she returned from Belgium with several of the other Sovu nuns, she concluded that her life had been permanently altered. “Life at the monastery had become impossible for me,” she says. “I couldn’t see myself praying there anymore.” Besides, she had one 11-year-old sister, Florentina


COMING TOMORROW Their Day in Court
As many as 1 million Rwandans took part in the genocide. Where can the victims turn for justice?




Testing Their Faith

Former nun Regine Niyonsaba knew her days in the Benedictine Order were numbered after she witnessed police execute her mother and sisters on the monastery grounds. Second in a series SOVU, Rwanda — As a young girl growing up here in the hills above the local monastery of the Benedictines, Regine Niyonsaba sometimes caught sight of the nuns, immaculate in their white habits, heads covered discreetly in the chocolate-brown scarves of the Belgian order. While the nuns rarely left the monastery compound, each time Niyonsaba saw them she dreamed of one day entering the order, living in the impeccable monastery with like-minded sisters, and away from the uniform wretchedness of the poverty that otherwise defined life in this rural commune, barely five miles west of the southern university town of Butare. At the age of 20, she enrolled as a novice. But five years later her tranquil world of prayer and meditation was shattered at the outset of the Rwandan genocide of 1994, during which the government mobilized the Hutu majority to exterminate members of the minority Tutsi, such as herself. Like thousands of other Tutsi fleeing the bloodbath,

An overwhelmingly Christian country is shaken when church grounds become killing fields
Niyonsaba’s family had sought refuge in the monastery compound. But the mother superior, a Hutu whipped up by the official incitement to murder, had invited in the militias and local officials carrying out the genocide, saying the presence of the refugees was a threat to her domain. The mother superior, Sister Gertrude Mukangango, insisted that the relatives of nuns also be expelled from their sanctuary in the monastery’s guest quarters, knowing full well that she was sending them to their deaths, as numerous witnesses, human rights organizations and Belgian prosecutors would later establish. Niyonsaba’s father and brother already had been killed elsewhere in the monastery compound in the preceding 15 days, along with nearly 7,000 others. And now, on May 6, 1994, under the gun of a police officer, Niyonsaba followed her mother and two younger sisters down a footpath to a banana grove on the far side of the compound. They were accompanied by another nun, Sister Fortunata Mukagasana, whose relatives also were slated for execution that Monday afternoon. The police officer, Francois-Xavier Munyeshyaka, was in fact doing Niyonsaba’s family a favor of sorts. In consideration for a sum of 7,000 Rwandan francs, he had agreed to shoot the novice’s mother and sisters rather than leave their fates in the hands of the militia, who favored the use of machetes and nail-studded clubs. “We asked him why he was killing our families. Why? He said the mission he was given was that no nun should be killed, but all the others must die,” Niyonsaba recalled recently. “We buried them at the spot where they were killed.” Dazed from the execution, Niyonsaba stumbled back to her quarters and locked herself in. But since that afternoon in the banana grove, Niyonsaba knew that her days as a nun were numbered and, soon



after the genocide ended, she walked away from it all. “Ever since,” says Niyonsaba, now 35, “I lost hope in the spiritual life. I lost faith in my life as a nun.” The massacre at Sovu monastery has recast the lives of many of its nuns who survived the genocide. The trauma cut some loose from their religious moorings and sent them to seek the less exalted experiences of the secular life. Yet others profess even more fervor for their faith, seeing it as the price to pay for having been spared. Nine of the original 36 nuns were killed during the genocide. Six remain, and the rest quit the order. The travails of the nuns in many respects reflect the spiritual wilderness many Rwandans inhabit today. Ten years after the genocide, in which an estimated 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu were killed, the question of personal faith has become a profoundly disorienting one for many in Africa’s most overwhelmingly Christian — and overwhelmingly Catholic — country. The moral crisis triggered by the decimation has compelled many survivors to re-exam-




Light pours into the chapel during services at the Sovu monastery, where thousands died; surviving the genocide has strengthened the faith of some. ine their relationship with the church — and with Christianity in general.

Aiding and Abetting
Some of the worst massacres occurred right inside churches and parish compounds, many with the active collaboration of priests. Many other priests risked everything to save lives, and more than 200 of them were believed murdered along with their parishioners. One particularly courageous priest, Father Boniface Senyenzi, who was Hutu, stood steadfast with the thousands who sought refuge in the Roman Catholic Church in the lakeside city of Kibuye. He was killed, along with 11,400 people in the church. But many more became foot soldiers in the extermination campaign or passively accepted its inevitability. Among the most notorious was Father Wenceslas Munyeshyaka, the first priest to be convicted of genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania, which is trying a few of the leaders. In his Kigali church Munyeshyaka presided gleefully over the mass murder, egged his congregation on to greater effort in their “work,” and often read from a list of those Tutsi who must die. The mother superior at Sovu, too, is serving a 15-year sentence in a Belgian prison. Throughout Rwanda the smashed skulls of the innocent are in church pews still as a me-

how can a Christian country do this? My answer is you can’t talk only about Rwanda. There have been genocides in other countries . . .”
— Archbishop Thaddée Ntihinyurwa

Many have asked,

morial. In the church in Ntarama, south of Kigali, more than 5,000 perished at the hands of government armed killers. And at Nyarubuye, the priests gave up thousands of Tutsi parishioners who sought sanctu-

ary at the only place they thought they could safely turn. As a result of what many survivors see as treachery, the primacy of the Catholic church in civic and spiritual life in Rwanda has come

under increasing strain. Estrangement from the church has pushed many into the willing arms of evangelicals. Others appear to have turned their backs on Christianity altogether, seeking refuge in Islam, which had few adherents as a percentage of this country’s population of about 8 million. Yet others have abandoned religion entirely. Accurate statistics are hard to come by in Rwanda. But experts say the genocide has helped demystify the Catholic Church, easing the way for many of its adherents to flock to the proselytizing evangelical churches whose revival tents sprout like toadstools throughout the Kigali metropolitan area. “The evangelical Christians — the born-agains — they are growing very fast,” says Privat Rutazibwa, a former Catholic priest who was inducted by John Paul II on Sept. 8, 1990, when the pope visited Rwanda. “They have attracted people who have been overwhelmed by problems and

need an external force to help them.” Rutazibwa felt compelled to quit the priesthood but remains a Catholic, though an openly skeptical one.

Archbishop’s Response
The head of the Roman Catholic Church in Rwanda, Archbishop Thaddée Ntihinyurwa, acknowledged a flight from the church by an indeterminate portion of his flock. This, the archbishop hinted most certainly reflects poor judgment. “If they think by leaving the church they can live better lives, it’s their choice,” he said one recent Saturday afternoon in his Kigali office. “Christianity is not about numbers, but about those who have accepted Jesus in their lives.” And despicable as the genocide was, said the archbishop, and as impermeable to Christ’s teachings many citizens proved to be, in the end nothing that happened here in 1994 was unprecedented or even uniquely Rwandan. “Many have asked, how can a Christian country do this? My answer is you can’t talk only about Rwanda; talk about human beings who have not accepted Christ in their hearts,” Ntihinyurwa says. “There have been genocides in other countries, and the first genocides happened in Christian countries also, like Germany and Armenia.” The official line laid down by the Vatican, and still fol-


YESTERDAY More than 10,000 children were born from rapes that occurred during the genocide, stretching social and family ties to their limits. TODAY The role of the church in the mass killings leaves many in this deeply religious nation looking for answers. TOMORROW So many Rwandans took part in the genocide, courts are fighting an uphill battle to bring the guilty to justice. WEDNESDAY In the new Rwanda, victim and victimizer may still live next door, reopening old wounds and posing a challenge to reconciliation.


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Former Butare police chief Cyriaque Habyarabatuma says he’s in prison on false accusations about his role in the genocide.

Nation turns to village courts
planned program of mass eradication directed at the country’s Tutsi minority. The ruling party’s ideology of Hutu Power saw no room for coexistence with the Tutsi, whose rebel forces eventually stopped the genocide, though too late to save about 80 percent of the Tutsi population. Within 100 days, an estimated 800,000 Tutsi, and Hutu opposed to the genocide, had been killed. From a distance, the world watched.

SUNDAY More than 10,000 children were born from rapes that occurred during the genocide, stretching social and family ties to their limits. YESTERDAY The role of the church in the mass killings leaves many in this deeply religious nation looking for answers. TODAY So many Rwandans took part in the genocide, courts are fighting an uphill battle to bring the guilty to justice. TOMORROW In the new Rwanda, victim and victimizer may still live next door, reopening old wounds and posing a challenge to reconciliation.

impossible. “There was never any real possibility of justice,” says Rakiya Omaar, executive director of the humanitarian group African Rights and a leading authority on the genocide. “The degree of popular participation was so deep and widespread that it would be like putting the whole nation in prison.” Rwanda’s ministry of justice estimates that for every suspect detained, six others

were left alone, which would put the number of direct participants in the genocide in the neighborhood of 1 million. At the current pace of judicial proceedings, Rwandan courts would literally still be trying genocide cases for the next century, long after the suspects are dead, officials say. The situation is complicated by the fact Rwanda has a death penalty. “It was a question of making a choice, whether to at-

tempt real justice and thereby create legalized genocide, or attempt to balance the desire to eradicate impunity while allowing the country to move on,” says Martin Ngoga, the deputy attorney general. “We were not in a position to enforce the law.” Rwanda’s judicial system was at any rate destroyed during the genocide. Almost all the country’s lawyers either were killed or fled into exile. Meanwhile, many of the sus-

pects already are in their 10th year of detention, with no prospects of a trial date in the foreseeable future. So the authorities reached into the country’s past for a form of traditional conflict resolution that strives less for retribution than for reconciliation. “Our larger purpose is we want Rwandans to be Rwandans again,” Ngoga says. “The genocide succeeded, but we want people, nevertheless, to live together. There is no other practical way.”

Gacaca: On the Grass
After a two-year pilot program to adapt them to today’s realities, 9,010 village tribunals, called Gacaca courts, will begin trying suspects from this month, says Charles Kayitana, spokesman for the program. For a preparatory session of a Gacaca (pronounced gah-CHA-CHA) court near the southeastern town of Kibungo, villagers have gathered within a cluster of mango trees. Members of the tribunal, known as “the wise men and women,” sit on a wooden bench while residents squat before them in a semicircle on the grass. Gacaca literally means “on the grass.” About two dozen suspects have been trucked in from the local prison. In their flamingo-pink uniforms, they stand out from their former neighbors, family and friends, who are all required to be in attendance so no one can pretend not to know the enormity of the crimes that were committed in their name. The subject at hand stands

A ‘Nation in Prison’
For scale and speed, the genocide was the most efficiently carried out in recorded history, with people being killed, mostly with machetes, at a rate seven times faster than in the Nazi Holocaust in which 6 million Jews were killed. The total mobilization of the Hutu population, which accounted for about 85 percent of Rwanda’s 8 million people, made it possible. And made justice virtually

we could get away with anything. In my area from 1992 to 1994, killing a Tutsi was not a crime.”
— Cyriaque Sebera, 50, an imprisoned former farmer

There was a feeling



in sharp contrast to the extravagant beauty of the surroundings. The hills roll off in the distance, all shades of green. The earth is red where turned or is otherwise carpeted in kikuyu grass and the inevitable profusion of banana trees and cassava. The sky is blue, like cobalt, and white and gray clouds drift over the land. The presiding “wise woman” states the purpose of the gathering, leads the assembled in a moment of silence for the dead and starts the proceedings. The sessions follow a more or less prescribed pattern: charges are read, survivors testify, naming some in the pink uniforms who allegedly used guns and sharp knives on their neighbors a decade ago. One by one the accused stand to state their case, invariably involving at least a partial confession. “It is participatory,” Kayitana says. “It is by Rwandans, for Rwandans.”



Justice Under Fire
But Gacaca has been criticized by some international human rights organizations for falling far short of the presumed balance and the protection of the accused’s rights that regular courts afford. Significantly, the system does not allow for defense attorneys, and few suspects can resist the coercive power of the leniency promised in exchanged for a full confession. A presumption of innocence is not the system’s strength. Rwandan officials typically treat such criticism with dismissal. “If there is a bar association somewhere that is willing to lend us 12,000 lawyers, we’re happy to accept them,” Ngoga says. “We have learned to ignore this nonsense. We decided to deal with our situation in the manner that suits our needs.” This homegrown solution offers little comfort to Cyriaque Habyarabatuma, the chief of police in Butare province under the old regime. For the past 10 years Habyarabatuma appeared to have pulled off an unusually seamless transition from serving the genocidal regime to serving the current one in similar capacities. But a survivor denounced him at a recent Gacaca session for personally directing police officers a decade ago to mow down the innocent. On the evening of Feb. 6 police executed a warrant for his arrest, and now Habyarabatuma finds himself within the confines of the impossibly overcrowded Butare Central Prison, along with 10,814 other inmates. Because of the importance of his position, Habyarabatuma may not qualify for trial under the more lenient Gacaca system, which cannot try

See JUSTICE on A38

GASHORA, Rwanda — Valerie Bemeriki would like the world to know that, all in all, she was only doing her duty. Hers was one of the most recognized and most effective voices on the so-called Hate Radio, known by its French acronym RTML, which helped mobilize Rwanda’s Hutu majority to genocide 10 years ago. That voice, by turns shrill, seductive and authoritative, goaded and encouraged the country’s Hutu, sometimes helpfully suggesting the names and hiding places of members of the minority Tutsi and their Hutu sympathizers who had yet to be murdered. To make it easier for her listeners to see their victims as less than human, she made up vulgar stories about the inyenzi, or cockroaches, as Tutsi were called. She even accused them of cannibalism. “They mutilate the body and remove certain organs, such as the heart, liver and stomach; they eat Valerie Bemeriki human flesh, the inyenzi,” she declared in one broadcast, transcripts of which are now in the possession of Rwandan authorities as well as the United Nations tribunal trying the ringleaders of the genocide. Bemeriki, 48, sits today in the bleak, isolated prison here in southern Rwanda, five years after she was arrested in neighboring Congo. At the time of her arrest, in June 1999, the shocked and disoriented Bemeriki had pronounced herself guilty of incitement to genocide and begged forgiveness of her fellow citizens. But now, facing the death penalty from Rwandan courts, Bemeriki is recanting. She contends that, at worst, listeners may have misunderstood her enthusiasm, a failing for which she cannot now be held responsible. “I was only doing my job as a journalist,” Bemeriki says. “When we were working we never used our radio to say they should go and kill people. But the listeners may have misunderstood. If we asked people to get rid of cockroaches, we did not mean they should kill people.” Which is clearly a lie, according to extensive transcripts of broadcasts during the genocide by RTML or Radio Television Libre Des Mille Collines. As the killings escalated, one announcer abandoned any pretense to figurative language, pleading: “The graves are only half full. Who will help fill them?” The radio station had been founded in 1993 by members of the family

and inner circle of President Juvenal Habyarimana, who opposed the president’s compromise treaty to end civil war by sharing power with the mainly Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front. Two of the station’s founders have been convicted of genocide by the UN tribunal sitting in Arusha, Tanzania. As a Category One offender — those accused of spearheading the genocide — Bemeriki knows she does

round glasses, and a string of beads adorns her neck. Bemeriki was recruited by RTML in 1993 from the ruling party’s propaganda department. Her witty and conversational style soon made her one of the country’s most prominent voices. After the extremist faction seized power following Habyarimana’s death in a plane crash on April 6, 1994, they quickly arranged to have the moderate prime minister mur-

says her radio broadcasts were part of her “job as a journalist.” not qualify for the mass release of sus- dered — along with the 10 Belgian pects currently under way. The cur- peacekeeping forces guarding her. In rent Tutsi-led government, which as- announcing the takeover, Bemeriki sumed power after defeating the sneered that none of the moderates “Hutu Power” regime in July 1994, re- could be “found,” and then began to leased 23,000 detainees last year. laugh uproariously. Many had been held without trial for She blames her superiors for any nearly a decade, and conduct that may the government was somehow be conbowing to the reality strued as incitement The that it had no capacity to genocide. “As you to try them in regular well know, a journallisteners courts and, if it did, ist is like a soldier: he had no desire to jail or may have tells the story his ediexecute more than tor tells him,” she 100,000 people. says. “We told the misunderstood. If The fact that she story as it was.” does not qualify for we asked people to Although she is listamnesty makes it diffied in the governcult for her to come get rid of ment’s top-100 list of clean, Bemeriki says. genocide offenders, “It is hindering any cockroaches, we Bemeriki has no court chance of my confessdate yet. The judicial ing.” system, which had to did not mean they A short and powerbe built from scratch fully built woman, Be- should kill people.” after 1994, has only meriki once was an elnow managed to com— Valerie Bemeriki plete a catalog of prisegant Kigali socialite who was to be found oners and the charges in the company of the against them. Lawyers country’s Hutu elite and at diplomatic are in short supply. Most offenders functions. But her features now are will be tried under the Gacaca court coarse from five years on the run in system, a quasi-judicial tribunal being the Congolese rain forest and another established at the village level where five in Rwanda’s notoriously over- local notables will listen to confessions crowded prisons. She limps on one and sentence most to community serleg, from an automobile accident. Her vice and compensation to survivors. standard issue prison dress is pink “Myself, I have no hope,” Bemeriki and low cut. She wears massive says.

www.newsday.com NEWSDAY, TUESDAY, MAY 4, 2004



Village courts
JUSTICE from A36
“Category One” offenders. As a result, he disavows any involvement in the genocide, a position of moral heroism that a police commander almost certainly would have been unable to maintain during the genocide. Habyarabatuma says he is a victim of wrongful accusation. “Not all who are in prison killed; sometimes there are false accusations,” he says, suggesting strongly that this unfortunate state of affairs clearly applies to himself. “Problems arise when you release the guilty but hold the innocent.”

A Reluctant Killer
By contrast, Cyriaque Sebera is counting the days to his return home for the first time in nine years. The farmer from Gashora, in southern Rwanda, first confessed six years ago to killing his neighbor, but the system was not ready to accommodate people like him. Now prison officials have notified him that he is on a list of those scheduled for provisional release, and might soon be allowed home to face a Gacaca court. “I collaborated with others to kill the Tutsi of this area,” he says. “There was a feeling we could get away with anything. In my area from 1992 to 1994, killing a Tutsi was not a crime.” Sebera, 50, confesses to direct responsibility for only one killing, the murder of a Tutsi neighbor and fellow farmer. But he killed only with reluctance, he swears, and only because he had no real choice. The pressure to join in the killing was severe, with the implied threat that whoever failed to participate was liable to be killed as a Tutsi-lover. For this reason, he says hopefully, the Gacaca court will look kindly on him and, perhaps, his neighbors will accept him back. This has proved true for his son, who was released last year, he says. “The survivors know that I tried hard to avoid killing,” he says, “but there came a time when I could no longer resist.” During the genocide, the interahamwe militia, which carried out most of the killing, was indeed merciless with dissenters. Those hesitant to kill their neighbors, teachers or goddaughters were judged to be just as traitorous as the inyenzi, or cockroach, the name applied to all Tutsi. In this way, thousands of moderate Hutu were killed throughout the country in the last lunge by extremists to

Prisoners from Butare Central Prison, one of Rwanda’s overpopulated facilities, wait for clearance to enter the building after a day of hard labor. cleanse the land of the Tutsi. “In April 1994,” says Emile Rwamasirabo, rector of National University of Rwanda, “it was more dangerous to refuse to kill than to kill.” And while a confessed killer, such as Sebera, will probably be set free in exchange for time served, Gacaca courts still will be playing an invaluable role in the building of a new society of tolerance and rule of law, Rwamasirabo says. “If you killed a Tutsi over the past 40 years in the name of Hutu Power there was no punishment,” he says. “So today the simple act of recognizing it as a crime, of taking people to court, of public confession, already is a big leap forward.” IN THE FOLD the 65 suspects now trickling through its chambers before its mandate expires in 2007. Yet for all its bumbling the tribunal has in custody some of the most prominent planners of the genocide, including the former prime minister, Jean Kambanda, as well as the chief of the army and various cabinet ministers. But none is more important than the man widely acknowledged as the genocide mastermind, Col. Théoneste Bagosora, deputy commander of the Armed Forces of Rwanda. His trial is finally under way and is expected to be concluded sometime this year. In late January in a bulletproof courtroom in Arusha, Bagosora sits impassive, lips pursed and eyes vacant, listening to Dallaire testify against him. The Canadian general, now retired, recently published “Shake Hands With the Devil,” his best-selling account of his failure to persuade the world to act against Bagosora and his comrades. The “devil” refers to Bagosora, who Dallaire now describes as “the kingpin” of the Hutu Power leadership that planned and set the genocide in motion. Bagosora had kept detailed plans of the genocide in a journal that was subsequently retrieved. He also organized and armed the interahamwe, and got his associates to import enough machetes from China to arm one-third of Rwanda’s entire population. But in the courtroom his

The Widows
A photographer’s view of survivors gathering to honor their husbands. A42 recognized that a genocide occurred here.” Merely recognizing genocide now is counted as a virtue because the world’s leading nations were reluctant to grant even that much in 1994. The French government supported and supplied the Hutu Power regime until the very end. The Clinton administration, smarting from the killing of two dozen U.S. Army Rangers in Somalia the previous October, actively dissuaded the UN from intervening. The UN itself turned a deaf ear to the desperate importunings of the commander of its peacekeeping force of 450 troops in Rwanda. After the genocide, the commander, Canadian Gen. Romeo Dallaire, fell into depression and tried several times to commit suicide. In a nondescript building in the East African town of Arusha, in Tanzania, the genocide tribunal sits in judgment. After nine years and more than $1.5 billion maintaining a vast apparatus of administrators and lawyers, the tribunal has so far convicted fewer than two dozen genocide suspects. It is on course to fail even to prosecute all

UN-paid attorneys are doing their best to challenge the very idea that a genocide took place at all, let alone whether their client was its chief executioner. The entire proceedings — the red-robed judges and black-gowned lawyers, the endless arguments about the finer points of semantics, the rhetorical detours — seem completely disconnected from the reality of Rwanda’s existence. After a week of testimony, Dallaire is excused. The general stands ramrod at attention, stares for what seems like a full minute at Bagosora, then finally pivots and marches out of the room. Bagosora only looks straight ahead, constantly pushing his big round glasses up the bridge of his nose. Dallaire expresses relief afterward. “I’ve been waiting a long time to testify,” he says. “I will never be finished with Rwanda, and all those connected to it will never be finished. The horror and the destruction will not allow me to be finished with it.” Last month, during ceremonies to mark the start of the genocide, Dallaire returned to Rwanda for the first time, talking to young people, apologizing for failing to protect the innocent and wiping away tears.

Neighbor to Neighbor
The tears flow freely for Marguerite Mukabazanira, alone in the world but for six genocide orphans she has informally adopted, who keep her company and allow her, at age 50, to be a mother again. “Who will give us justice?” she asks in the tone of someone who already knows the answer. “The government is too interested in reconciling with the killers.” A school teacher, she was married to Onesphore Murekezi on July 23, 1978, and the two made their home that very day in the hilltop village of Mpare, just outside Butare. Life was hard for Tutsi anywhere in Rwanda but less so in Butare, a temperamental equivalent perhaps of California, where the climate soothed and the citizens were relaxed in their habits and friendly in their ways. The couple became close to many of their Hutu neighbors, especially Olive Mukarugagi’s family. She and Mukabazanira taught at the same school, Musange Primary, and their husbands were both in the brick-making business. “Before the genocide the two families were so close, and we often exchanged presents,” Mukarugagi says during a prison interview. In 1987, after Delphine was born, her parents naturally asked Mukarugagi to be her godmother. In fact, all four of her older siblings also had Hutu godparents. Neighborhood ties began to fray from about 1990, after

The UN Tribunal
For its acknowledged sin of what can only be charitably described as moral cowardice, the international community, through the agency of the United Nations, also is hoping a similar public accounting will have a large symbolic impact. Even its genocide tribunal’s most bitter critics, including Ngoga, ascribe it significant value, however begrudgingly. “This tribunal was not created to get us justice, but to nurse the guilt of the international community,” says Ngoga, who was Rwanda’s representative to the tribunal for four years. “But its mere existence has served a certain usefulness — the international community officially




Hear Dele Olojede (at left) talk about the quest for justice. Listen to J. Conrad Williams Jr. talk about the story behind his photos. Plus, get past installments in this series, an interactive slideshow from Rwanda today and a chance to talk about Rwanda then and now.

the Tutsi rebel force, the Rwandan Patriotic Front, invaded from neighboring Uganda with the objective of forcing Rwanda to take back hundreds of thousands of its Tutsi citizens who had been driven into exile in repeated pogroms since 1959. Government propaganda began to characterize all Tutsi as ibiyitso — collaborators — who were to be shunned and, later, eliminated. In school, Tutsi children were made to sit in the back of the class and were otherwise made to realize that “it was a sin to be a Tutsi.” At home, Tutsi parents sometimes were threatened. The odd rock would be hauled through windows and occasionally people were beaten. But it always was just a touch less hateful in Butare, and even after full-bore genocide exploded on April 7, 1994, it took two full weeks, as well as personal intervention of the interim president, before the people of Butare succumbed to cold-blooded murder. “We never thought of moving because we didn’t imagine that level of violence,” Mukabazanira says. “We never thought it would get to genocide.” On April 21, as a few soldiers fired in the air and the mobs began a house-to-house search, Mukabazanira and Murekezi grabbed their children and ran for the hills. All the Tutsi of Mpare and surrounding hills began to gather in public buildings in the area, as well as places of worship, thinking they’d be safe. But the bodies were piling up quickly, and Mukabazanira and Murekezi decided to send their children to their various Hutu godparents. Mukarugagi took custody of Delphine. The little girl stayed alive for only the next two days, until April 23. None of the other children survived the massacre, and neither did their father. Mukarugagi at first blames the whole thing on “the militia.” “We don’t know who conspired to tell the militia that there were Tutsi children hiding in our home,” she says. “The militia grabbed the children from our house and killed them in front of my husband’s grandfather’s house.” The families all lived in close proximity: Mukarugagi’s father-in-law lived two houses away, followed by her grandfather-in-law’s, which was next door to hers. Mukabazanira and her family lived around the corner, their home visible just beyond the banana trees. At length she admits that the culprit was family — her brother-in-law, an interahamwe member she identifies as Sentama, who took Delphine away to be slaughtered. “We thought he was going to protect her,” she says, having also offered that at that very moment other Tutsi children


Marguerite Mukabazanira, above, holds her former friend Olive Mukarugagi, left, responsible for the death of her child. has been isolated by her husband’s family. “The killers are from my husband’s family, but they are putting everything on my head,” she says. “Even my husband’s family is trying to blame me.” The only time Mukarugagi has met her old friend was during an investigative hearing four years ago in the prosecutor’s office. She says she never had the chance to offer an apology or any expression of regret. “She never greeted me that day,” Mukarugagi says, and being a prisoner, she was not permitted, she says, to speak unless spoken to. Mukabazanira’s anger is not limited to her close friends. Some of the other killers that she barely knew have been paroled and are back in the old neighborhood. Sometimes, just to eyeball them, Mukabazanira goes back up there from her new home in downtown Butare. She seems to relish the moment when, at her sight, they all scamper off into the brush. when they see me. One of them riding a motorcycle saw me and fell in front of my vehicle. I had to break hard to avoid running him over.” Ten years ago, by a stroke of luck she cannot now conclude was either good or bad, Mukabazanira survived the genocide. Her husband and two of the children were cornered while hiding with hundreds of others in the local dispensary. She was separated from them in the confusion, and hid in the pine bush and abandoned hospital buildings. Until finally the Rwandan Patriotic Front overran Butare and she was saved. One recent afternoon, wandering around the field of millet that was once the site of her home, Mukabazanira kicks at the small pile of rubble that represents the only sign that her family ever existed on this patch of land. “They thought people like us who went to school were collaborators, so they not only killed us they destroyed our houses completely,” she says. “They wanted to wipe away any trace of our existence.” In her sentimental moments, which admittedly are brief, Mukabazanira allows perhaps that if her former tormentors sincerely apologized, “then we will surely forgive them.” Then she quickly catches herself. “As for me, there is no reconciliation,” she says finally. “What we have is tolerance, not reconciliation. We have no option; we cannot avoid them on the road. “But it is too difficult to reconcile.”

were being hacked to death next door in her grandfather-in-law’s compound.

Accusations and Arrests
“I let the child go because we wanted to save her,” she says repeatedly, as if, by repetition, somehow she can reassure herself that she did her very best. On June 4, 1997, after an embittered Mukabazanira filed a complaint with local prosecutors, Mukarugagi was arrested and has been held ever since in Butare prison. Mukabazanira has similarly lodged charges of murder against other former friends, targeting the godparents with particular zeal. “We thought no one could

kill their godchildren, but they were the ones who did the killings,” she says. One of them, Cleophas Rugizama, was sentenced to 20 years for the killing of Jocelyn Iribagiza, the oldest of the five children who was 15. The godmother of Aline Umujanyagwa, 14, the second born, was out of Mukabazanira’s reach. The woman, Goreti Mukabuyenje, died in the refugee camps in Congo, where much of the Hutu population fled after the Rwandan Patriotic Front defeated the old regime. For the past seven years of prison life, Mukarugagi misses most her own three children, who are being raised by their grandmother, though they visit occasionally. She says she

A Turn of Luck
“I meet many of them around town, including one who had clubbed me on the shoulder. They are scared


COMI NG TO MO RROW A Matter of Trust
Genocide suspects are being released back into their communities. How do survivors cope with killers in their midst?




A prisoner stands before a Gacaca court near Kigali. During such open-air tribunals, those found guilty will be sentenced mostly to time served, community service and may be required to pay compensation to genocide survivors.

A People’s Court
Third in a series KIBUYE, Rwanda — At times, a smoldering anger consumes Marguerite Mukabazanira. Her normally friendly face is contorted and she starts to hiss. She is mad at the Rwandan government, which she regards as craven for letting killers walk free in the name of national reconciliation. She despises former neighbors, whom she holds responsible for the murder of her husband and all her five children. But she reserves something akin to pure hatred for her former best friend and the godmother to her youngest child, Olive Mukarugagi, under whose protection Delphine Umutesi, 7, was placed, only to be handed over to the killers. “She is the one who killed my youngest child,” Mukabazanira declares, sitting stiff-backed in her temporary home in this southern town. “Ever since the war ended, I have never been at peace, because I always see people who killed my relatives, my family, roaming around. Many were close friends before the genocide. I was the teacher of their children. But no one lifted a fin-

Overwhelmed by the sheer number of those suspected of genocide, Rwanda turns to village tribunals to provide a measure of justice
ger to help us.” not responsible. My hus- out of Butare Central Prison. Mukarugagi, 40, sits for band’s uncle killed her. I had She will be freed provisionally now in Butare Central Prison, nothing to do with it.” as part of a government prowhere she has been held for Perhaps sometime this gram to release most of the the past seven years on charg- month, Mukarugagi will walk 130,000 genocide suspects es of conspiring to who have been held for murder little Delyears in prisons so phine, as well as for overcrowded that inthe crime of genocide. mates take turns to Mukarugagi admits sleep. Last year about that the child had been 23,000 suspects placed in her care, but deemed to be mere insists that her husfoot soldiers during the band’s family had genocide, or who were taken her away to be seriously ill, were sent killed in the street. She back to their villages. was powerless, she Any day now, another says, to stop them. 30,000 will be similarly “Marguerite is furireleased conditionally. ous and bitter, which Only a few thousand reis understandable,” Marguerite Mukabazanira lost her garded as the archishe says. “But I was husband and five children in the genocide. tects of the genocide,


or who demonstrated especially depraved enthusiasm for killing, will eventually be tried in regular courts. The vast majority of suspects, such as Mukarugagi, will be required to appear only before traditional open-air tribunals of village notables, who will begin to sit in judgment sometime this month in communities throughout Rwanda. In exchange for a full public confession, those found guilty will be sentenced mostly to time already served, community service and perhaps be required to pay compensation to survivors, such as helping to rebuild a home destroyed. By resorting to this compromise, the Rwandan government is only facing the reality that the very magnitude of the crime committed 10 years ago puts it beyond the possibility of just sanction. On April 7, 1994, a day after a plane carrying President Juvenal Habyarimana was shot down and he was killed, units of government soldiers, police and Hutu militia organized and funded by the government began implementing a carefully



See JUSTICE on A36

ful to see them walking around with impunity. They don’t even look down. We are very bitter about this. “All the time we are scared that they will come in the night to kill us.” In Mukabutera’s section of the district, a de facto segregation exists. The survivors live in an enclave of houses set along narrow dirt roads not far from the paved thoroughfare leading to the nearby town of Butare. Their former homes having been destroyed during the genocide, they moved into the new ones six years ago, through the generosity of a church group from neighboring Burundi. The hills above them are inhabited almost exclusively by Hutu. Both communities cross paths unavoidably in the market, at the local dispensary, and on footpaths. Some are even friends.



Sorry to Have Survived
Marie-Chantal Mukamisha lives alone with her life’s sorrows, except for the kindness of Anastasie Akayesu, a Hutu neighbor who sometimes drops by to keep her company, and occasionally to run errands. Akayesu’s husband is being held in the local prison for crimes of genocide committed against the innocent, such as Mukamisha’s family. The two women hardly ever discuss the genocide, Mukamisha says, but simply help each other cope with the hand that fate had dealt them. She also is supported from time to time by another Hutu neighbor, a man who, noticing the 32-year-old woman’s desperation, gave her one of his cows to help her get started. And during the genocide, after she had escaped by climbing from underneath a pile of bodies, Mukamisha had been saved by a Hutu woman who lived alone in a hut in the woods, and who had nursed her until her dreadful wounds healed. The woman, whose name she cannot now remember, took her in until the genocidal fever receded. “She was a kind-hearted woman,” she says. But today she is no longer certain whether surviving the genocide was a good thing after all. With all seven brothers and both parents dead, and with her recent marriage effectively ended when her jobless husband walked away in December, Mukamisha admits to the torment of loneliness. And when she sees Hutu families, including the families of well-known killers, walking down the path, she admits to an acute sense of bitterness and helpless rage. “Of course I feel very angry, but I don’t have the strength to lash out,” she says. “You think of these peo-

In a union rare since the genocide, Tutsi Eugene Shyaka married Hutu Alice Nikuze. The birth of the first of their three children helped ease family dissent.


RUHENGERI, Rwanda — In another era, say only a decade or so earlier, Alice Nikuze and Eugene Shyaka would have made an utterly unremarkable couple. But this was the end of 1997, and they were proposing to their families that they get married, which most certainly proved they were fools in love. Rare is the Tutsi who marries a Hutu these days, as a union across the lines has become a social and psychological obstacle in a country struggling to recover from its apocalypse. The wounds still fester from the genocide of 1994. The betrayal that the genocide represented was deep and all-encompassing, to the point where husband killed wife. And so, only three years after the country’s decimation, the announcement from Nikuze, — Shyaka and she is Hutu — and Shyaka — he is Tutsi — of their plans for marriage was not exactly well received. Some relatives were indignant — his more than hers. Friends were almost uniformly appalled, some of them attributing the announcement to temporary insanity and threatening to put a stop to such foolishness. “My uncle asked me, ‘In this entire district, can’t you find someone else?’ says Shyaka, 42. “He did not raise ethnicity directly, only in a roundabout

er was silent, offering neither support nor opposition. But it was his father, who had fled Rwanda with his family after the first anti-Tutsi pogrom of 1959, who eventually saved the day. “Luckily I have a very understanding father who is very open-minded,” says Shyaka, who grew up a refugee in neighboring Uganda. “He said if there was genuine love between us, he saw no reason to stop it.” Throughout Rwanda’s history, intermarriage was common between Hutu and Tutsi, so that today it often is difficult to tell one group from another. Typically the Tutsi are characterized by more than average height, slender build and aquiline features common to groups sprinkled throughout East and West Africa. The Hutu tend to be shorter and broad-featured, also typical of groups throughout Africa. The commingling over time produced a substantial number of Rwandans who could “pass” either way, and erNikuze hurdled ethnic divides when wed in 1998. rors in classification led to many unintended killsays, did not include her parents. ings — and lucky escapes — during the “My immediate family had no prob- genocide. lems with it at all,” Nikuze, 32, says. The suspicion that forms a by-prod“If they’d expressed any reservations uct of the genocide has made inter— I respect my mother very much — marriages today extremely rare. Even then I wouldn’t have gone ahead with the brave few who have scaled the soit. But some older relatives, their cial barrier are loath to draw attenminds were closed against it. When tion to themselves, particularly in an you asked for a reason, they offered environment where trumpeting one’s none by way of explanation.” ethnic identity is seen as an assault In volume and intensity, the objec- on the country’s very existence. The tions raised by Shyaka’s friends and See MARRY on A48 family were more significant. His moth-

way. But everyone understood what he meant.” Like millions of other Hutu who feared Tutsi reprisals after the defeat of the genocidal regime, most members of Nikuze’s extended family had fled to the Congo, and only her immediate family and a few uncles and aunts were around for the announcement. This helped reduce the strength of the opposition which, she

www.newsday.com NEWSDAY, WEDNESDAY, MAY 5, 2004



Paths to healing
ple who have left you destitute and without a family and you want to lash out, but I just don’t have the strength.” She disputes even her classification as a survivor, for how do you really survive a genocide? At the age of 32, Mukamisha sees a life of desolation stretching into the horizon, at the end of which comes death. “I think I should have died, because I don’t see any way to deal with this loneliness,” she says. “I just spend the days in no particular pattern. I don’t see any hope. All I can see is survival until I die.”

The Neighbor’s House
Domitira Mukabanza is a little agitated, which accounts for her volunteering to point out a neighbor’s house as the redoubt of unrepentant killers. She reels off names of accused genocidaires who have returned home from prison. Even more will return in coming weeks, as the government sends home another batch of up to 30,000 detainees, especially those who have confessed and were not adjudged to be principal organizers of the genocide. Mukabanza says she understands some of those who killed her children, and who left her for dead in a mass grave, would be among them. “I was in the grave, and it began raining heavily,” she recalls now, shivering involuntarily. “It was a shallow grave. The rain washed away the soil. The wild dogs that were eating the dead bodies came. Luckily the rain had softened the soil, and I was able to get out.” Stumbling around in the woods, bleeding from multiple wounds, she eventually made her way to her mother’s family, who were Hutu, though being half-Hutu had not saved her from the mob. Her mother’s people took her in for a while, eventually hid-

plot, I know only God is protecting me. I can be killed at any time.”
— Survivor Domitira Mukabanza, above

“ “

When I go till my garden

You can see that I am an old

man. I wish I could have done something to help. I can tell you it was a very unfortunate event.”
— Johan Nturo, left, accused in the genocide ing her elsewhere to avoid exposing themselves to denunciation as collaborators, an offense that in 1994 was punishable by death. But now the killers walk free, Mukabanza says, hissing in disgust that such a situation could have been allowed to develop. “When I go till my garden plot, I know only God is protecting me,” she says. “I can be killed at any time.” Johan Nturo has a completely opposite view of things. Following his arrest in February 1995 for participation in the genocide, he had been held


without charge until his conditional release last year, pending final determination of his status by a village tribunal that is expected to begin sitting here this month. That two of his four sons remain behind in prison, to Nturo, is an outrage. He concedes nothing to the survivors. “Those who claimed that I killed have an ulterior motive,” he says, with heat. “They claimed that I killed Alexandre [a local man] but it is only because they wanted me in jail so that, perhaps, they could take my cattle.” Nturo is seated in his barebones living room. Behind him is a large wooden Jesus on the cross, and this religious symbol dominates the room. Nturo is quite agitated, frowning and gesticulating. His pants are patched; his skin dark and cracking. During the “problems,” he says, he never went anywhere — never even left his compound. His sons merely cut grass for the cattle even as other men, young and old, took up arms and cleansed the hillside of Tutsi. In the end, he says, the government of the day was to blame for encouraging people to kill. “If the government decides that something is going to happen, I cannot do anything about it,” he says. “I don’t know what goes on in the minds of leaders that they would tell people to do something like that.” He softens a bit. “You can see that I am an old man. I wish I could have done something to help,” he says. “I can tell you it was a very unfortunate event. Maybe it was a curse, the kind that brings famine and pestilence.” Still, Nturo misses his sons, Stefan Sibimana and Gasper Gasasira, and wishes they were home to help care for the cattle and fend for the family. “I am an old man now,” he says repeatedly, “and my days cannot be many. I am no longer strong. I have a bad knee. I am not in good health. I don’t have very long.” He insists on his sons’ innocence while obliquely conceding at least moral cowardice in not raising a finger in defense of his

MARRY from A47
government’s mantra, in reaction to the genocide, is: Everyone’s a Rwandan, neither Hutu nor Tutsi. But group identity cannot be so easily wished away by official proclamation. “Government says you must be Rwandan first, after which you can be anything else,” says Florien Ukizemwabo of the Rwandan League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights. “But this is not in everyone’s hearts.” A shopkeeper in this town at the foot of the Virunga range, home of mountain gorillas, Nikuze met her future husband in 1997 at the provisions store she runs. He kept coming back, and it soon became clear that he was hanging around not just so he could buy canned milk. Negotiations with family and friends led to moments of indecision. “Sometimes I thought I might be making a big mistake,” Shyaka readily admits. “And when my uncle objected, it also created doubts in me.” As for Nikuze, she was more afraid than reticent — scared of potential attack by Hutu extremists who were still launching cross-border raids at the time, and who might regard her as consorting with the enemy. This was not mere paranoia: while attending high school in the early 1990s, her name appeared on a school list of collaborators simply, she says, because she had lots of Tutsi friends. But all anxiety and fear eventually gave way by the wedding date, Jan. 17, 1998, and friends and family, including most of the objectors, were in attendance. The birth shortly thereafter of Mariella Uwicyeza, the first of their three children, won over any holdouts. Such occasions are a time of great feasting and gift giving in Rwanda, and old animosities and resentments tend to be set aside. The children, finally, are the only hope of this damaged country, Nikuze says. “I have hope that our children will live in harmony with other children, that they will be brought up in ways that children before them were not,” she says. “In the past the children were taught in school to hate. That is no longer the case.”




Neighbors and other survivors accuse Johan Nturo, 75, of participating in the genocide. “I am not guilty of anything,” he says.

A Killer Next Door
Last in a series SOVU, Rwanda — “In the village up there, there are a lot of killers,” Domitira Mukabanza says. “Come, I will show you.” With that, she sets off briskly across a sorghum field, up a footpath and toward the home of Johan Nturo. Mukabanza lost her husband and five of her six children in a massacre at a monastery here 10 years ago. The youngest, 3-year-old Petronira Nzamukosha, was hacked to death right off her mother’s back. The only surviving child is permanently crippled from machete blows. Mukabanza blames her neighbors, such as Nturo, who is accused of participating in the genocide. It is early morning, and old man Nturo finds unexpected guests at his door. At 75 his sight is poor and his health is failing, which accounts for his recent parole after eight years in prison. Two of his sons remain behind bars. “I am not guilty of anything,” Nturo protests, despite the testimony of several

Rwanda may be making strides toward recovery, but half-hidden bitterness and suspicion pose obstacles to reconciliation
survivors. “My sons, too, are completely innocent. They are good Christians who feared the sin of killing.” In part for this very denial, Mukabanza, 50, has far less faith than the government that Rwanda can be put back together again, that citizens can live together in peace, and that the genocide will not recur. “It is very difficult to live in these circumstances, but we are poor and powerless,” she says. “To live with these people means that you don’t know whether you will survive the night.” It is a situation scarcely imaginable anywhere, as if most Jewish survivors were compelled to remain in Germany immediately after the Holocaust, living cheek by jowl with their erstwhile neighbors. “Our first task is to reconstruct a nation — to rebuild a people,” says Tom Ndahiro, a member of the country’s Human Rights Commission, one of the many official bodies charged with working with communities trying to stitch themselves back together. “It is not easy.” Slowly, a country that was left for dead in 1994 is staggering back to its feet. The current government inherited a nation where 70 percent of the population of 8 million either was displaced or dead. Almost all civic and governmental institutions, including schools and hospitals, had to be rebuilt from scratch. Though it still depends on foreign aid for much of its treasury, today Rwanda is experiencing a construction boom. Roads are being built, mobile telephones and Internet cafes are ubiquitous. New office towers and international hotels are going up in Kigali, the capital, which has gone from a necropolis


to probably one of the safest cities in the world. “You would have expected a failed state here, a Somalia of some sort,” says Joseph Bidere, a Rwandan exile in Canada who moved back home after the genocide. “I would not have thought the country would get to this point.” But physical recovery has not masked the continuing trauma of the genocide, the bitterness and suspicion that still to a large extent define life here. By freeing tens of thousands of genocide suspects from prison, the government of President Paul Kagame is attempting a precarious balancing act between justice and reconciliation. Those who receive lenient treatment — foot soldiers, not kingpins — are required to confess their crimes and seek forgiveness from their victims. In time, officials say, people would re-establish ties that were rent by the genocide, and the country could slowly leave its






Rocky road to recovery
bloody legacy behind. Lending a hand in this project, in part to atone for its own catastrophic failure to protect the innocent, is the Roman Catholic Church, by far the most powerful institution in the country after the government. The church, like the government, is betting that it is still possible for lion and lamb to lie together in this mountain country, and has been encouraging ordinary people who participated in the genocide to ask forgiveness from survivors, and for survivors to grant it. “Those who sinned against others and against God have to repent,” says the head of Rwanda’s Catholics, Archbishop Thaddée Ntihinyurwa, who touts a broad new effort by the church to re-engage its strayed flock. “The church, after 2,000 years of preaching, now has started having a conversation with the people.”

Two survivors: Marie-Chantal Mukamisha, above, says she’s tormented by loneliness; Adelis Mukabutera, with daughter, bears the physical and emotional scars of the genocide. using a machete to hack a baby off the back of its fleeing mother, or a nail-studded club to smash a neighbor’s skull. Often when the killers got tired at day’s end, they would cripple victims by severing their Achilles’ tendons, the easier to restart the “work” next morning.

Progress on the Surface
In public, a people notoriously obedient to authority — the follow-the-leader culture in large part explains the willingness of millions to acquiesce in the genocide — say the right things to conform to the official line. Many are loath now to talk about being Hutu or Tutsi, in accordance with official dictates. The government is hypersensitive to any flaunting of ethnic identity, and has thrown some leaders of the political opposition in jail ostensibly for engaging in a dangerous appeal to ethnic solidarity. So loud and frequent is the official condemnation of “divisionism” that many citizens make a show of minimizing ethnic identity as if it were already an ideology. According to one Kigali schoolteacher, who is Hutu, “We are no longer Hutu or Tutsi; we’re all Rwandans now.” But in private, out of earshot in their living rooms or front yards, the level of bitterness people feel still has the capacity to shock, as in Tutsi survivors uniformly denouncing “Hutu murderers,” and known killers, even some who have confessed, effectively denying that a genocide occurred at all. “You can imagine how difficult it is for a victim to live with the killer — not just a genocide survivor but any victim at all,” says Benoir

Tension on the Footpath
Adelis Mukabutera survived the massacre on the grounds of the Sovu monastery. But now she lives in fear of the genocidaires recently returned home from prison, or from years on the run in the rain forests of neighboring Congo. “There are killers all over the place,” she says. “They pass every day on that road you took here. We meet them in the market, in the hospital, and it is every day like that.” Unselfconsciously, Mukabutera peels off her dress at the shoulders to reveal extensive scars from cutlass and gunshot wounds sustained on the monastery grounds a decade earlier, when she was only 18. Her father and six siblings died in the siege. One recent afternoon she ran into a man she recognized as one of the monastery killers, “and there was not even a sign of guilt in his eyes.” “Of course you feel terrible when you run into a murderer you know, and who knows you know them,” Mukabutera says. “It is very pain-



Kaboyi, an official of the influential survivor group Ibuka, which means “Remember” in the Kinyarwanda language. “How can you live with the person who has killed your children and your parents? When you have been raped and your property destroyed? “Some survivors are trying to do their best, especially the

young. But the elders?” Here Kaboyi pauses, himself a survivor of the massacre inside the cathedral at Nyamata, south of the capital. A look of resignation crosses his face. As in the rest of the country, the personal nature of the massacres in the district around Sovu, including at the nearby monastery of Benedictine nuns, makes the after-

taste especially bitter. This was not at all long-distance annihilation by precision-guided bombs. No gas chambers were used. The killings, on the contrary, had a graphic, even pornographic quality. Killer and victim knew each other, either in the neighborhood or the workplace. Most of the deaths were close-contact:

SUNDAY More than 10,000 children were born from rapes that occurred during the genocide, stretching social and family ties to their limits. MONDAY The role of the church in the mass killings leaves many in this deeply religious nation looking for answers. YESTERDAY So many Rwandans took part in the genocide, courts are fighting an uphill battle to bring the guilty to justice. TODAY In the new Rwanda, victim and victimizer may still live next door, reopening old wounds and posing a challenge to reconciliation.







Seek and Ye Might Find
An opera meanders through history in search of its own core
WHITE RAVEN. Music by Philip Glass. Libretto by Luisa Costa Gomes. Directed by Robert Wilson. With Lucinda Childs, Ana Paula Russo, Janice Felty, Herbert Perry and Vincent Dion Stringer. American Composers Orchestra and White Raven Opera Chorus conducted by Dennis Russel Davies. Attended at Tuesday’s premiere. New York State Theater, Lincoln Center. Presented by Lincoln Center Festival. Repeated tonight through Saturday.

Part 2

By Justin Davidson
























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T’S BEEN 25 years since Robert Wilson and Philip Glass made their reputations with the mammoth, mystifying and now classic opera “Einstein on the Beach,” which distilled the genre to its abstract essence: objects, light, movement, song and sound. Now, with “White Raven,” they have returned to Lincoln Center, fortified with a sense of their place in history and the license to think bigger than ever. At the behest of the Portuguese government, which commissioned the opera, “White Raven” deals with the exploits of the 16th century Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, but also, more grandly, with seekers of all kinds and in all times. But it also represents only half of a vast, still uncompleted, operatic diptych. The other part, according to Glass’ program note, will treat “the civilization and development of Islam from about 1000 A.D. to 1500 A.D.” Why stop so early, I wonder? The problem with an opera about everything is that it doesn’t matter much what’s in it. “White Raven” contains no characters, only emblems, singing stick figures with nothing to express. It has no plot, only roving allusions. Judy Garland’s Dorothy and the Tinman wander into the exploits of da Gama — why? Oh, yes, because the Portuguese explorer and the girl from Kansas both have their eye on somewhere over the rainbow, but also, surely, because the ploy provides an irresistible opportunity for camp nostalgia.

Photo by Javier del Real

A scene from “White Raven” at Lincoln Center Wilson’s work is always permeated by wistfulness — for a time when surrealism was the latest thing, when cute meanderings a la Gertrude Stein still struck people as outré, when music videos had not yet harnessed all Wilson’s techniques. Back-lit fantasies, period-pastiche garb, dreamy non sequiturs, mechanical dance — by the 1980s these had become the stuff of commercial music television. Even Glass’ musical style has become a product, its repetitions endlessly recycled and comfortingly familiar. And so, “White Raven,” half of it wordy the other half wordless, glides along the surface of its images, carried by the soothing burbles and incantations of Glass’ score. The second half begins with a storm at sea. Chains of flat, triangular waves bounce stiffly up and down. Behind them, giant, disembodied limbs — a naked leg, a grasping hand — bob in the storybook brine. Pornography is accused of reducing human beings to their body parts, but nobody de-personalizes people more dispassionately than Wilson. It hardly makes any difference who sings what. The only purpose of using a live cast, rather than, say, animated holograms, appears to be to provide figures on which to hang Moidele Bickel’s costumes. Granted, those are ravishing and fantastical: a pair of gilded Siamese twins who share a double-wide farthingale, an Inca prince daubed rain-forest green, an unidentified tribesman with one elephantine foot, assorted stock street-theater characters, a brace of human-size ravens with giant mesh heads and beaks, an ivy-covered dancer, a beauty-pageant winner in a spangled gown, a reptilian soprano with glowing dragon-head and fetchingly spiked tail. Singers, dancers and orchestra fared well at the U.S. premiere, but the mechanical performers proved more capricious. A curtain refused to descend until manually yanked, the amplification system made even deeper murk of Lucinda Childs’ narration and a lighting glitch caused an impromptu 10-minute pause. Perhaps that’s what you get for creating an opera about human history and leaving out the humans.

Selleck Brings High Comedy to ‘Clowns’
CLOWNS from B9



In The Sports Section

to fear and loathe. The most easily rescued is Sandra, the green psychiatric social worker who comes to the house to evaluate Nick’s home life and never really leaves. Barbara Garrick, looking like a fragile Eva Marie Saint, manages to make us overlook the worst of this impossible character — a conflicted innocent with the annoying need to decorate. Robert LuPone has a solid, decent, unapologetic slickness as Murray’s brother and agent, a man who ultimately confesses that he got old because “I have a talent for surrender. . . . You are

cursed.” Bradford Cover is suitably prissy as the uptight social worker assigned to take Nick away from this bad influence but, eventually, admits the limitations of not being “one of the warm people.” And best of all is Mark Blum as Murray’s former employer, the pathetic and horrible children’s TV star Chuckles the Chipmunk, played here with grandiose selfloathing and flop-sweat mastery. Rando’s stagings of Neil Simon’s “The Dinner Party” and the wondrously deranged musical “Urinetown” have already defined him as the season’s least definable directing talent. He is equal-

ly adroit with the demands of a conventional American romantic comedy with boomer-cult status. Allen Moyer’s design for Murray’s one-room Manhattan apartment keeps the aging graduate-student shabbiness without being boring, and the scene in Murray’s agentbrother’s sleek office is deftly juxtaposed. Martin Pakledinaz’s costumes capture a perfect you-arehow-you-look aesthetic — right down to Sandra’s little white gloves. Gardner, whose illness prompted an earlier opening than scheduled, should feel good about the rescued legacy of his first comedy hit. We know we do.





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Philharmonic Benefits Its Audience, Too
NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC. Memorial concert benefiting the World Trade Center disaster relief fund. Brahms’ “German Requiem.” Heidi Grant Murphy, soprano, Thomas Hampson, baritone, Kurt Masur, conductor. With the American Boychoir and the New York Choral Artists. Thursday night. Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center. The event, telecast “Live From Lincoln Center,” will be rebroadcast tonight at 9 on WNET / 13.



By Justin Davidson







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HERE ARE MOMENTS when classical music, by common consent, ceases to be a marginal form of entertainment or the finicky preoccupation of the affluent and few, and becomes an essential source of nourishment. Or perhaps that is wishful thinking: Music now also seems more than ever beside the point, requiring an intensity of focus that few of us can muster. Our attention spans, never long to begin with, have been fractured, our thoughts crowded with looped images of ash and flame and plummeting steel. What room is there for art? Yet for a beautiful hour Thursday night, Avery Fisher Hall became a haven of concentration. In lieu of a festive opening night gala, the New York Philharmonic offered a benefit performance of Brahms’ “Ein Deutsches Requiem” as a balm, and it was reverently accepted. All the signs of distraction that usually accompany a concert here — muttering, shuffling, coughing and snoring — had vanished. Aside from one stray cell phone early on, an attentive silence reigned. At the end of the performance, by request of the orchestra’s executive director, Zarin Mehta, the audience held its applause and filed out of the hall in silence, letting the music hang in the air for a few extra minutes. Had the Philharmonic chosen only to remember the dead, it might have played a program of threnodies, beginning, perhaps with Richard Strauss’ “Metamorphosen,” a rending meditation on the destruction of World War II. But Kurt Masur, whose final season as music director began that night, did not choose to dwell on lamentation. Instead, Brahms’ “German Requiem” offered the first possibility of joy — not of simple-minded escapism, or indefinitely postponed redemption, but of someday shaking off the grim numbness of these past days. In this time, I have, without intending to, deprived myself of music, and I do not think I am alone. Radios are tuned to talk and news, some stores and public spaces have muted their PA’s, and the constant, global clang of tunes that fill the air in New York City has been attenuated. So the Philharmonic’s return to the stage after a period of quiet echoed an earlier day, when concerts were rare and more momentous, and music was a live art. Brahms’ Requiem can be a distant, brooding work, but this performance was detailed and fluid and full of motion, as if sculpted out of still-warm wax. Soprano Heidi Grant Murphy was exquisitely seraphic. Baritone Thomas Hampson supplied thoughtful thunder. And the orchestra discovered a trembling and fire I had not heard in this piece before. As a chorister told me on the subway afterwards: “The meaning of this piece has changed. It’s not just about abstract death.”

All the signs of distraction that usually accompany a concert here — muttering, shuffling, coughing and snoring — had vanished.





Finding Clarity in the Motion of Bach
AMERICAN BALLET THEATRE. Artistic director Kevin McKenzie. Program: “Clear” (premiere), by Stanton Welch; “Sylvia Pas de Deux,” by George Balanchine; “Swan Lake” (excerpt), by McKenzie after Lev Ivanov; “Esmeralda Pas de Deux,” by Ben Stevenson; and “Jabula,” by Natalie Weir. At City Center, 55th Street near Sixth Avenue, Manhattan. Season runs through Nov. 4. Seen Saturday.

Part 2

By Sylviane Gold


OU COULD get into a lot of trouble calling a new ballet “Clear” — especially if you set it to the crystalline music of Johann Sebastian Bach. But Stanton Welch, the hot Australian choreographer with a growing list of international credits, is far too canny to give the City Center audience any cause for unease. His fresh new work for American Ballet Theatre ballet is clear, a Euclidian sequence of solos, duets, trios, quartets, one morphing transparently into the next in a series of horizontal wipes. On Saturday night, “Clear” led off a program of three spiffy classical excerpts — highlighted by Nina Ananiashvili and Jose Manuel Carreño

Photo by Mira

Seven male dancers in frenetic motion anchor American Ballet Theatre’s production of Stanton Welch’s “Clear.” having lots of fun in the playful “Esmeralda Pas de Deux” — and last year’s ritualistic “Jabula,” by Welch’s compatriot, Natalie Weir. Welch and Weir both place a lone woman among a passel of bare-chested men, but that’s where the similarities end. Instead of Weir’s heavily grounded tribe, Welch gives us seven jumping jacks: Angel Corella, the vibrant leader of the pack with his dazzling spins and thrusting jumps; Maxim Belotserkovsky and Marcelo Gomes, for lyrical contrast; and the dynamic foursome of Herman Cornejo, Joaquin De Luz, Jerry Douglas and Sascha Radetsky. Their arms whipping fiercely, their feet pushing them into the air with relentless force, the group, dressed in skin-colored bell-bottom tights by Michael Kors, seems to have passed through a jet-propulsion lab on its way to the stage. It’s not all up-and-down, side-to-side bursts of speed. There’s a wondrous, languidarmed duet for Belotserkovsky and Gomes, weaving through space to echo the harmonies and counterpoint in the music (which featured lush playing

from soloists Matthew Dine on oboe and Ronald Oakland on violin). And then there’s Julie Kent, coolly elegant as she appears from out of nowhere to engage the men in various combinations. In one section, Belotserkovsky and Gomes, each holding one of her hands, pull her from the wings. They lift her, bend her, stretch her, loop her up and around, proceeding gradually — but in a straight line — to the opposite side of the stage. Once there, they gently slide her offstage again. Amazing as she is in the trio, she’s at her most spectacular when she teams up with Corella. Their duets unfold with a kind of other-worldly detachment until the very end, when Welch brings down the curtain on a breath-stopping tender embrace, Corella’s head nestled below Kent’s, her arm raised straight up in rapture. The piece is marred only by the contrived-looking accents — jiggling heads here, body slaps there, hidden faces over and over — that distract from the sweeping lines of its pristine architecture. A choreographer with enough confidence to call something “Clear” should know that he doesn’t need quirky frills to make it “interesting.” Sylviane Gold is a regular contributor to Newsday.

The Vital and Vivid Return of an Antique
THE RETURN OF ULYSSES. Music by Claudio Monteverdi, libretto by Giacomo Badoaro. Production by John Cox. With Leah Summers, Phyllis Pancella, Katharine Goeldner, Stephen Powell, John Mac Master and Keith Phares. New York City Opera ensemble conducted by Daniel Beckwith. Attended at Saturday’s opening. New York State Theater, Lincoln Center. Repeated tonight, Thursday and Nov. 4 and 7.

By Justin Davidson


N THE LAST MINUTES of Monteverdi’s opera “The Return of Ulysses,” Penelope, the stubbornly loyal wife who for years has been sustained by an insane certainty that her husband would return from the void, must confront the fact that he actually has. She refuses to believe at first: Penelope has spent too long immersed in stubborn fantasy, keeping reality at bay. It’s a wrenchingly topical moment, though its outlines were written by Homer and though Monteverdi set it to music 350 years ago. Among the most powerful memories of September is that of thousands of New York Penelopes plastering the city with pictures of the disappeared, clinging to the wild hope that a spouse or a child could still walk out of the ash. Everyone who has the capacity to be moved by opera should see New York City Opera’s new production of Monteverdi’s “Ulysses,” not because of the story’s sudden, unwanted relevance but because it demonstrates how vital and vivid the antique can be. In that final scene, the marvelous Phyllis Pancella stepped from crumbling stoicism to unfolding bliss, the choked outbursts of recitative giving way to full-blown melody. She is a singer of uncommon gifts: She conveyed extreme emotions with supreme restraint. Her singing was controlled, her voice not large but luxuriantly dark,

Photo by Carol Rosegg

Stephen Powell in the title role and Phyllis Pancella as Penelope in “The Return of Ulysses” and she revealed the role from somewhere deep inside the music, not by slathering on expressive mannerisms. Stephen Powell, as Ulysses, sang with a muscu-

lar baritone and understated discipline, arriving at joy like a traumatized soldier coming home in a welter of frustration and nobility. It is rare in opera for a climactic embrace to be more than a mechanical body block. Here, at the end of a work in which the two protagonists hardly even share the stage, a kiss became a musical transformation. “Ulysses,” one of the few surviving Monteverdi scores and a product of his old age, possesses music of intimate beauty, which Daniel Beckwith conducted with straightforward grace. Performing it requires a certain amount of archaeological reconstruction, but there was not a whiff of mustiness to City Opera’s blue-and-gold production. The opera is a series of solemn soliloquies, offset by moments of rowdy comedy. Deities address the audience by turn, making their cases for altering human lives like delegates at a convention. Each of Penelope’s suitors tries to string the hero’s unbending bow, but not before placing himself under the protection of an appropriate god. Penelope confides the grief to which she has become accustomed in bursts of tight-lipped lyricism. All this stateliness can be deadly, and directors frequently fight it with too much stage business. But director John Cox has evidently understood the music well enough to rely on measured movement, the resplendent robes designed by Johan Engles, and Mark McCullough’s endlessly inventive lighting. Brilliantly swathed gods enter on mechanical arms that swing silently above the stage. One level down, the people stumble through their destinies in unobtrusive choreography. Cox knows when to disappear. The cast is large and the singing was not uniformly splendid, but enough of it was good enough to make this “Ulysses” a delight to hear again (the production had its premiere at Glimmerglass three years ago). Keith Phares as Ulysses’ son Telemachus, Katharine Goeldner as Minerva, John Mac Master as the loyal shepherd Eumaeus and Wilbur Pauley as a useless suitor all stood out.




Photo by Marie-Noëlle Robert

When it premiered in Paris a year ago, “El Niño” seemed like an apt way to mark the Nativity, but today it has expanded into an anti-fundamentalist, eclectic, ecumenical work.

A Musical Pageant Reborn
John Adams’ oratorio ‘El Niño’ has transcended the story of the Nativity


HEN JOHN ADAMS wrote his 1990 opera, “The Death of Klinghoffer,” about the hijacking of a cruise ship in the Mediterranean, he was pilloried for having turned terrorism into art and making Palestinian gunmen sing. Adams had used the news too bluntly, his critics felt, and the flush of righteousness they experienced only intensified in the decade that followed, when other composers, too, wrote timely stage works, giving rise to a genre dismissively dubbed CNN Opera. More recently, U.S poet laureate Billy Collins, asked for predictions about an artistic response to Sept. 11, warned against the danger of confronting events directly, quoting Emily Dickinson on the subject. “ ‘Tell the truth but tell it slant.’ You have to go through a side door,” he added. Though Adams could not have known it at the time, the composer wound up following the advice of Collins and Dickinson in writing “El Niño,” a staged Nativity oratorio that had its first perfor-

mances in Paris nearly a year ago and recently has been released on compact disc. At its world premiere, the piece struck people as an apt and optimistic way to mark the 2,000th anniversary. Ten months later, it seems far more than that: a deeply anti-fundamentalist religious work, eclectic and ecumenical and, most important, the product of a dazzling imagination working with minimal constraints. “El Niño” was crafted for the theater and intended to receive the visual ministrations of Peter Sellars. Eventually we will see it that way here, since one of the piece’s co-commissioners was Lincoln Center. In the meantime, we have the CD, an ingot handed out by the label Nonesuch, which labors in the classical music recording business the way monasteries did in Europe’s illiterate age. Other companies are losing money, shedding staff, winnowing artist rosters and resorting to ever more craven repackaging ploys. Nonesuch bestows on us “El Niño,” sung by the original team of Dawn Upshaw, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson and Willard White, and conducted by Kent Nagano. It opens with an Adams signature: pulsing minor chords, plushly orchestrated and spangled with the tinkle of a folk guitar. This is the work of a compos-

er who long ago set aside the austerity and lengths of minimalism but still enjoys using its burbling harmonies, riverlike rolling and eddies and whirlpools of rhythm. “I sing of a maiden,” the anonymous medieval poem begins, but already things become more complicated. The “I” is actually a “we” — the chorus, splintering the text in a cascade of syllables. After a throbbing crescendo, enter the angel Gabriel — he, too, multiplied and divided among three countertenors, a heavenly barbershop trio. At times Mary is a soprano, at others a mezzo, and the baritone doubles as Joseph and Herod. The “I” is never fixed. Assigning a voice to several different roles belongs to the conventions of oratorio, but Adams, who professes “shaky and unformed” religious beliefs, goes well beyond tradition to create a piece with a constantly shifting point of view. The heart of the first section is “The Annunciation,” told not in biblical terms but in the first-person reflections — in Spanish — of Rosario Castellanos, a Mexican poet who died in 1974. “El Niño” is a pageant of motherhood as well as birth, and it draws on layers of female voices: Whose voiceare we hearing here:


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know, she’s just completely lived her life the way she needs to. And she knows herself in and out. I think that I’m kind of right in between there,” she continues. “I think I’m on the verge of being a woman. But it’s just . . . it is kind of hard, though, because since I have grown up in the spotlight, people place these things on you to be a certain way, you know, even — not even necessarily my fans or anything. It’s the people around me . . . It’s up to you to stand up and say, ‘OK, I need my own identity. I need to grow and be an adult and do things on my own.’ ” On “Britney,” Spears co-wrote five of the 12 tracks, which happened naturally, she says. “I was really nervous when I first went into the studio because I was, like, ‘Can I even write?’ ” Spears says. “But it was a lot simpler than what I thought. I just sat with people who made me feel really comfortable. I had a lot of time for this album . . . so this was probably the most laid-back process in making an album that I’ve had. So I’ve really been blessed in that. Seriously.” Spears’ influence may be seen more directly in whom she chose to produce the songs. Hot hip-hop team the Neptunes crafted the funky “I’m a Slave 4 U,” while R&B producer Rodney Jerkins tackled Spears’ cover of “I Love Rock and Roll.” “What It’s Like to Be Me,” co-written and produced by Spears’ boyfriend, Justin Timberlake, and choreographer-songwriter Wade Robson, sounds like Timberlake’s group ’N Sync, as do “Lonely” and “Let Me Be.” Overall, “Britney” sounds funkier and hipper than her previous albums. “Anticipating” and “That’s Where You Take Me” are pleasant, shimmering R&B-styled pop that sound as if they came off Janet Jackson’s “All for You” CD. “I’ve been really inspired by a lot of hip-hop and R&B,” Spears says. “I was going to clubs and stuff, and the music that was really standing out for me was the Neptunes. Every time a song came on by them I was just, like, ‘Man, I have got to get up and dance.’ So, you know, ’N Sync had worked with them, and I told Jive [her record company] that I think I really want to work with them.” Spears says she’ll be stepping up on her tour as well. “It’s just going to be really, really crazy ——. There’s things coming in and out of every song, and you never know what to expect . . . I just want [fans] to see me in a different light,” she says. “This music that I’m singing right now is such a reflection of me and who I am, and I really think they’ll come to the show — well, hopefully they’ll come to the show — and just get a really good idea of who I really am.” And what would that be, exactly? Well, even she’s not sure at this point. “I definitely think this is a turning point in my career,” Spears says. “I think that, you know, I’m really just coming into my own and becoming the person I want to be. But honestly, I really don’t like defining myself, and I don’t even know how I am right now. You know, I just am. And have no idea what I’ll be like in the future. Hopefully, just a good person.”


Friday, November 9th
8:00 p.m. • Tilles Center

WHERE&WHEN Britney Spears performs
Wednesday at Nassau Coliseum (sold out) and Dec. 5 at Madison Square Garden (tickets, $40-$75, are available at Ticketmaster, 631-888-9000, or www.ticketmaster.com).

Positively Stellar

Long Island Philharmonic David Wiley, Music Director & Conductor
Grammy Award winning singer Roberta Flack joins the Long Island Philharmonic for an unbelievable energetic evening! This one-of-a-kind diva performs her greatest hits, and shares her greatest memories. Sponsored by:


2001-2002 Season

Mary’s, Castellano’s or that of the stirringly expressive Lieberson? Against a broad expanse of seamless string tremolos, dotted here and there by glinting notes like stars plucked on a guitar, a celesta or a harp, the vocal melody slowly unwinds, billowing gently. Adams is a master at playing a tune out like a fishing line; it’s the same talent that gave Pat Nixon’s aria in “Nixon in China” its dreamy charm. But birth is also an act of violence committed from the inside out, as Castellano’s poem notes — “Because you were to break my bones, my bones, at your arrival, break,” the mother says to her god-child — and Adams smuggles pain into the score without breaking the reverie. “Me flagelaba” (“I was whipped”) the mezzo sings in a snapping leap as the guitarist throws his fingers in a strum across the strings. The tremolos crest, the trombones come in, the basses take up urgent syncopations. Then the whole thing passes, and for the moment the singer is left with her tender rage, a rippling accompaniment and a more jagged vocal line. There are not many composers who can render ambivalence with so much grace. “El Niño” joins the chain of European religious concert pieces extending back to Handel and beyond, and its sources are hardly hidden. As in “Messiah,” which Adams confessed he wanted to write anew, its language is direct and its delivery crystalline — there is hardly a word that cannot be understood. Like Handel, he has a natural feel for the qualities of showmanship in music, and the piece’s sweep includes both the grandeur and intimacy of religious experience. He commands, too, a panoramic grasp of references, and this score is replete with disparate and familiar gestures: the emotion-packed recitations of Baroque opera, the punch of a well-made pop tune, the precisely articulated sentiments of a Schumann song, the grand choral canvases of Britten, Mozart and Verdi, the boogie-woogie bass lines of vintage jazz. Adams sets mostly English words — from the Bible, the Apocrypha and a clutch of poets — but the second section, like the first, reaches its heart in Spanish, again through the words of Castellanos. “Memorial de Tlatelolco” comes right after Matthew’s terse summary of the children’s massacre that Herod ordered, and it juxtaposes ancient and recent iniquities of different totalitarian regimes. Tlatelolco was Mexico’s Kent State and Tiananmen Square: In October 1968, government soldiers attacked a crowd of restive students in a Mexico City square, killing several hundred. Castellanos’ poem and the aria Adams wrote for soprano Dawn Upshaw are less about that bloody evening than about the morning after, when both the blood and the history had been expeditiously scrubbed away. The weather dominated the headlines, Castellanos writes, and on television no bulletins interrupted the flow of entertainment. Adams knows how to portray a lie. Upshaw serenades the dawn in larklike tones, pleasantly describing a pleasant morning against a dewy lilt of plucked strings and harp. But four quiet blasts of tubas and trombones act like stubborn stains on the cobblestones. Indignation soon rises to the soprano’s gorge, and while the plucking goes impassively on, she swoops to her lowest, throatiest tones. Adams is a New Englander by birth and a Californian by choice, so Tlatelolco is not his battle, which is perhaps why it belongs in this oratorio. He can treat its story as he does the biblical tales — at one remove of passion. Like Handel again, he depicts barbarity without indulging in it, filtering rage through a civilizing scrim. At key moments, string tremolos gather force, lifting the chorus, which then breaks off in a Bach-like stroke of silence. Dissonance sometimes washes in, adding brushstrokes of mystery, before subsiding. But there is nothing raw or jagged in his work, no primal orchestral shrieks, no wild-eyed whispers, no Wagnerian riptides of ecstasy. Instead, Adams answers savagery with elegance, sublimating elemental emotions — pain, loss, terror — into a tapestry of shining threads. That is how an artist of great talent and uncertain faith confronts the sometimes ghastly histories of worship: by crafting an object whose glory is beyond doubt.

Your ticket to the stars...




2001-2002 Season Underwriting Sponsor:

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Making Book on the Book
All bets are off as an insult to Oprah roils an annual literary event
By Matthew Flamm

Part 2

Reviews of “The Syringa Tree,” starring Kate Blumberg, and “North Mississippi Hill Country: A Celebration.”


Becoming an unmarried mother is for the most part congratulated, not shamed.

Mothering: A childhood friendship endures for generations.


HEY HAVE NEVER HAD either the literary cachet or the tabloid thrill of Britain’s Booker Awards, which — as envious American literati never tire of pointing out — are both broadcast live on television and followed by London’s odds-makers. But this year at least, the National Book Awards, to be announced tomorrow evening at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in midtown Manhattan, will be taking place at the center of a storm of controversy. Well, perhaps storm of gossip would be more like it. Either way, the black-tie crowd, while chuckling over the jokes of master of ceremonies Steve Martin, will likely be taking more interest than usual in the fiction category. That’s because the bestselling, most widely and favorably reviewed of the five finalists — that is, the favorite — is Jonathan Franzen’s novel “The Corrections.” And lately, the 42year-old Franzen is best known as the author who so spectacularly put his feet in his mouth that he became the only Oprah Book Club selection to be disinvited from appearing on her show. So here would be the NBA handicappers’ considerations: Will Franzen’s various book tour comments — that he was “solidly in the high-art literary tradition” and some Oprah selections were so “schmaltzy” they made him “cringe”; that he was an “independent” writer and didn’t want the Oprah logo on his book — come back to haunt him again? In other words, will the accusations from within the literary community that he was arrogant and ungrateful, along with its support for Oprah Winfrey, result in a backlash against the book?

Newsday Photo / David L. Pokress

Jonathan Franzen, above, was conflicted about Oprah Winfrey’s enthusiasm for his novel. “I would say Franzen is an 8-to-1 longshot,” laments Chris Lehmann, a senior editor at the Washington Post Book World and a fan of “The Corrections.” Pointing out that only two years ago, the National Book Foundation, which administers the awards, gave Winfrey a medal, he adds, “Marketing clout is the pre-eminent literary value of our time. Book publishing has come to resemble the music or movie industry. There’ll be as much integrity to this as the Oscars.” Of course, the literary world is far from unanimous on whether the jury is subject to influence. Novelist and poet Percival Everett, who sat on the NBA fiction panel in 1997, says it’s a myth that “the popularity of the book or who endorsed
AP Photo, 1996

Pets: Beware of shady dog obedience instructors, and do your research to find the right one.


This Femme Fatale Fails to
LILITH. Music by Deborah Drattell, libretto by David Steven Cohen. Directed by Anne Bogart. With Beth Clayton, Lauren Flanigan, Dana Beth Miller, Marcus DeLoach and Tom Nelis. Danced by the SITI Company. New York City Opera Chorus and Orchestra conducted by George Manahan. Attended at Sunday’s opening. New York State Theater, Lincoln Center. Repeated Thursday and Saturday.

Your favorite comics and Jumble, too.


Network executives are becoming depressed about the state of the TV industry.

By Justin Davidson



Advice ............................B12 Chess .............................B20 Crossword .....................B22 Dinner Tonight .............B13 Gray Matters ................B12 Horoscope ......................B21 Introductions ................B18 Jumble ...........................B20 Kidsday .........................B25 Mars & Venus ...............B13 Movie Times ....................B4 On the Dial ...................B25 On the Isle ......................B8 Singles Calendar ..........B15 Tell Me About It ...........B13 TV Listings ..............B24-27


EW AMERICAN OPERAS get staged with such demoralizing infrequency that whenever one makes it to the opening curtain, it can count on an ample fund of good will. On Sunday afternoon, Deborah Drattell’s “Lilith” squandered it all in the space of a few lugubrious minutes. Allegedly about Adam’s apocryphal and dangerously lustful first wife, Drattell’s new opera, which New York City Opera gave its world premiere, is actually an impenetrable dance pageant featuring a chorus of men in Hasidic garb and a pair of female protagonists who are barely garbed at all. According to Jewish folklore, Lilith is the original femme fatale, sapping the juice out of sleeping men so as to give birth to a race of demons. The combina-

tion of biblical and vampiric themes, plus Drattell’s long orchestral interludes, gave director Anne Bogart the opportunity to choreograph her SITI dance company in some cabalistic soft-core. Dancers and singers, clad in modest black, do some lethargic faux-Fosse numbers with chairs: “A Stranger Among Us” meets “Cabaret.” Rarely has a score portended so much and delivered so little. Trombones mutter darkly. Strings shiver in awestruck tremolos. Dark-hallway-at-night chords keep pounding away until they have outlived their ominousness. Eerie vamps resolve into plain old oompahs. Semitic melodies announce their ancestry and then have nothing more to say. The orchestral textures are soupy, and the vocal lines jerk between chant-like monotony and thankless leaps. The mood never deviates from a sacramental fug. As for the libretto by David Steven Cohen, an excerpt will suffice. Act II ends with a spasm of solemn nonsense that climaxes in a shudder of alliterative drivel: “Dark pleasure,” Eve sings. “Sweet river past teeth and tongue, a river of want,” her daughter sensibly replies. Then mother and child join together, singing “Wind Water Want. Washing away regret. Wind Water Want.” If anyone at City Opera had any doubts about the merits of this work, it was a well-kept secret: The company gave

Photo by Carol Rosegg

Beth Clayton is Lilith and Lauren Flanigan, background, is Adam’s Eve. “Lilith” an enthusiastic and expert maiden run. Beth Clayton, making her debut with the company, slinked memorably through the title role, armed with a cloak

it” affects the decision. He has other complaints about the process, however. The decision “came down to a compromise of aesthetics certainly, but those [other] considerations didn’t matter,” he says. And let’s not forget that the other fiction finalists have their fans, too. Susan Straight’s novel “Highwire Moon” has been called “an eye-opener” by The New York Times Book Review. Louise Erdrich, nominated for the well-received “The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse,” has won a raft of awards over the years. Dan Chaon’s story collection “Among the Missing” has been praised as “unforgettable, if unnerving.” And Jennifer Egan’s novel “Look at Me,” according to a critic who asked not to be named, is “so strong, that might give the jury an out.” And one might also want to take the word of the fiction panel itself. “Any time judges are charged with judging books, the responsibility is to see what’s on the page,” says novelist Colin Harrison, the chair of this year’s five-member panel, who would not otherwise comment on the controversy. Still, no amount of reassurance will keep writers from setting odds. According to novelist Alison Lurie, one of the judges who gave the 1997 NBA to Charles Frazier’s first novel, “Cold Mountain,” over Don DeLillo’s “Underworld,” Franzen’s chances will depend on the kind of success the fiction panelists have had with their own work. “Somebody who has not been rewarded in their life does not want to reward somebody who has,” she says. “And it’s more exciting to give a present to somebody who’s relatively not known.” On the other hand, some wager that Franzen has taken so much punishment he could come out ahead. “Now that he has been pummeled by the media for a few weeks, a backlash could make him an underdog,” says Elizabeth Taylor, literary editor of the Chicago Tribune and president of the National Book Critics Circle. Bets, anyone? Matthew Flamm is a freelance writer.


Part 2
Paramount Photo / Gale Adler

NBC’s two-hour “Frasier” celebration, with Kelsey Grammer as the sophisticated psychiatrist, begins at 8 tonight.

All Psyched Up
It’s ‘Frasier’s’ big night with episode 200 and classic moments


of long, brown, shampoo-commercial hair, a fierce and glistening soprano and a shiny nightie. Lauren Flanigan was Eve, and she gave a performance that was unstinting both in passion and in eccentricities. She staggered through the opera, trying to mimic Lilith’s way with men, and eventually appeared to learn some of her dubious skills. The score brought out the worst of Flanigan — the epileptic agonies, the martyred looks, the close-your-eyes-and-swing approach to intonation, the whooping high notes launched into space. What Flanigan does best is give outrageous substance to a character, but not even she could put meat on an utter abstraction. Besides, some manager or close friend should have advised her against singing in a clingy slip. Even in mourning uniform, Dana Beth Miller managed to stand out as Eve’s nameless daughter, and Marcus DeLoach made a good son. Tom Nelis sang the Seer quite nicely, and he got extra points for spending much of the opera standing with the beatific immobility of a mannequin in a sage’s beard and prayer shawl. City Opera continues its tradition of taking admirable gambles and risking the painful flop in exchange for the bold success. This philosophy has led to some important moments in opera. But “Lilith,” alas, isn’t one of them.

ETERAN VIDEOPHILES probably won’t be surprised to hear that a square-jawed, steely-eyed, gun-toting U.S. marshal, Matt Dillon, is the longest-running prime-time character in the medium’s history. James Arness played this likely icon on “Gunsmoke” for 20 seasons. But it may shock a lot of viewers to realize that the second-longest-running character in the annals of prime time is a soft-faced, self-doubting, opera-loving psychiatrist, Dr. Frasier ON Crane, whom Kelsey GramTELEVISION mer is now in his 18th year of impersonating. Granted, Grammer, like Yankees slugger Roger Maris, will have to live with an asterNoel isk by his Holston name. Frasier Crane started out as a supporting player in another popular show, “Cheers,” before moving into his own. But the character’s transition from Boston barfly to Seattle radio personality (“This is Dr. Frasier Crane — I’m listening”) was seamless and, in fact, more impressive for the way he developed and grew on us. Think of it. Carroll O’Connor only worked Archie Bunker for 13 seasons. Henry Winkler was the Fonz for 11. And neither of these Smithsonian-enshrined actors was still at the top of his game when his show folded. Nei-

NBC Photo

Grammer, with Woody Harrelson, John Ratzenberger and George Wendt on “Cheers” ther Grammer nor his character have worn out yet. Tonight is Frasier’s big night. In what could turn out to be the most successful programming stunt of the November sweeps, NBC is showing two choice reruns (8 to 9 p.m., WNBC / 4), including one of those inspired, Moliere-like bedroom farces at which the series excels; followed by the series’ 200th episode (9 p.m.), which includes a guest appearance by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and a half-hour of outtakes and memorable moments from the Emmy-laden comedy’s eight seasons. When producer-writers Peter Casey, David Lee and the late David Angell decided to fashion a “Frasier” spin-off when “Cheers” sounded its last call, it struck many critics and viewers as a long shot. Grammer’s character had been added to the “Cheers” ensemble in its third year, after the red-hot romance between womanizing publican Sam Malone and self-consciously cultured waitress Diane Chambers (Shelley Long) inevitably burned down. Originally Diane’s shrink and then her fiancee, the smugly intellectual Frasier matched Diane, pretense for pretense. His function at Cheers was largely to have his ego bubble burst by the bar’s more down-to-earth denizens, especially tart-tongued waitress Carla Tortelli (Rhea Perlman). Getting jilted by Diane and later marrying an even more fickle woman — Dr. Lilith Sternin (Bebe Neuwirth), a fellow psychia-


See FRASIER on B27