Opera: ‘July 20th, 1944’.

On July 20th, 1944 a bomb went off in Hitler’s military conference room, wounding him and killing four others. It was the culmination of a series of failed attempts on Hitler’s life.

Our opera concentrates on the most interesting of the July 20th conspirators: Adam von Trott. On the surface he was a person of many contradictions – an aristocratic populist, a libertarian socialist, a nationalistic internationalist, a passionate anti-Nazi patriot. At a deeper level he embodied hopes that barely survive today – for a world in which nations, peoples and individuals respect each other.

Hitler’s murderous regime made things difficult for opposition groups. One by one, organisations were rounded up for imprisonment and/or murder: communists, socialists, free-masons and Christian activists.

Our opera ‘July 20th 1944’ is an attempt to encompass the story of von Trott and his times, seeking to place the story in its wider human setting and in its relevance for today.

Two scenes from the opera have been performed in the CLF Arts Cafe, Bussey Building, Peckham Rye, London. Scene 4 is a final meeting of friends and conspirators before the attempt on Hitler’s life. (CAST: Inge – Isolde Roxby; Rosa – Fiona Hymns; Helmut – James Way; Adam von Trott – Alexander Jones; Kaspar – Mat Palmer.)

Scene 5 is the end-scene. Von Trott has been executed and his wife is in prison; the spirits of those who died sing of their hopes that the desire for peace and human freedom will live on.

To hear the last ten minutes (Text of the audio extract below):

Text of the audio extract:

ILSE VON HASSELL: ‘Be a rock for the children,’ my husband wrote to me. And then… they killed him. How I wish I could follow him; but I will obey. May we hope the beliefs of the ancients are right?: that the souls of the upright, the strong and the noble, who sacrifice their lives, enter again the life stream of the world, to work for the salvation and good of all?’

CLARITA (reading): Be good and strong, dear Clarita. I think of Adam and of the psalm: A thousand years in your sight are but yesterday. I do not know what this means, but I feel it so strongly. Can we regret what they have done? Did they regret what they had done? No, not one, not for one moment! No matter what happens, they were the upright, the strong, the noble, and we honour their memory and stand with them in their fate.

[Enter three unnamed DEAD MEN, who begin to sing the CHORUS OF THE DEAD in which they are eventually joined by CLARITA and ILSE VON HASSELL.]


Where all roads seem to end in darkness, there speaks the old, hard word of fate: From the heart which endures the terrors of the night comes forth new blessedness; and as the nightingale sings in darkness, so only in deepest suffering does the living song of the world ring sacred in our ears.’ And in that living song, we find our peace.


The night was well reviewed here:


Composer – Noah Mosley, Librettist – Ivo Mosley.

‘July 20th 1944 – A Last Farewell’ is scored for two sopranos, tenor, and two baritone soloists, and chamber ensemble.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *