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Concert workshop of Act III, Scene 1
This workshop included the first scene of Act III, which takes place in Korczak's Warsaw ghetto orphanage in the first week of April, 1942. At this point in the opera, the people in the orphanage have all come down with dysentery, and the opening ensemble ("Even the food makes me sick") is filled with grotesque imagery of moths, bedbugs and lice. KORCZAK, despite his efforts to maintain normalcy in the orphanage, is beginning to abandon some of his routines, including his ritual weighing of the children. He recalls days gone by when he was in greater control of his environment, helplessly singing "Wasn't I a doctor then? Didn't I cure what ailed them?" STEFA enters the scene, and though Korczak promises her an orphanage in Palestine when the war is over, she acknowledges that this will never happen.
Stefa deliberates about how to best heal the orphans and teachers, but Korczak identifies a deeper need: to prepare the children to face their own deaths.