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Leonore Schwarz Neumaier-A Voice Silenced: Exhibition Depicts Life of Opera Singer Killed by Nazis in 1942

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03/14/2002

NEW PALTZ -- An exhibition depicting the life of the Viennese-born Frankfurt opera singer Leonore Schwarz Neumaier, who was a victim of the Nazi Holocaust, will open Saturday, April 6, 2002 at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, State University of New York at New Paltz. Entitled "Leonore Schwarz Neumaier-A Voice Silenced", the exhibition will be on view until May 19.

Images are available online at www.newpaltz.edu/news/images/neumaier.htmlDiane Leonore Neumaier, in collaboration with her father, John J. Neumaier, created the exhibition to honor the memory of Leonore Schwarz Neumaier and the millions of innocent victims of Nazi brutality and war. The opening reception is Wednesday, April 10, 7-8pm at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art.

Coinciding with the annual observation of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yom HaShoah (April 9, 2002), the Resnick Institute for the Study of Modern Jewish Life has invited the exhibition creators to speak at its' annual Holocaust Commemorative Lecture.

John J. Neumaier's presentation is titled "One Voice, Many Voices-Memories of Persecution and the Holocaust," and Diane Leonore Neumaier's presentation is titled "The Making of the Exhibition A Voice Silenced." Their lectures are Wednesday, April 10 at 8pm in the SUNY New Paltz Coykendall Science Building Auditorium.

The opening reception and lectures are free and open to the public.

Leonore Schwarz Neumaier pursued her operatic career in Austria and Germany in the early part of the 20th century, singing with opera companies in Graz, Nuremburg, Magdeburg, and Frankfurt am Main, where she was engaged as the first contralto from 1917 to 1921. Following her marriage in 1921 to Otto Neumaier, a Frankfurt businessman, and the birth of their son Hans (John), she appeared mainly on the concert stage. The rise of Nazism in the 1930s and the growing repression of German Jews restricted her appearances to Jewish groups and organizations associated with the Jüdische Kulturbund.

When family efforts to bring Leonore Schwarz Neumaier out of Germany to the United States were unsuccessful, she was forced to remain in Frankfurt. In 1942 the Gestapo deported her to the Majdanek death camp near Lublin, Poland, where she was killed.

The exhibition includes photographs of Leonore Schwarz in various operatic roles, opera posters, and other opera memorabilia, as well as documents that provide a historical context. A recording of Leonore Schwarz's voice will be playing in the exhibition hall. The exhibition will travel to the Jewish Museum in Frankfurt, Germany in 2003.

Of special interest is the arrangement of family snapshots taken by Leonore Schwarz Neumaier's teenage son, John, with his Leica camera-a gift on his Bar Mitzvah. They reflect the values and experiences of a young Jewish boy growing up in Nazi Germany. Some are of beloved relatives who met their death in the extermination camps.

Dr. John J. Neumaier is the son of Leonore Schwarz Neumaier and is the former president of State University of New York at New Paltz and of Moorhead State University (Minnesota). As a newspaper columnist for the Kingston Daily Freeman, he has written extensively about the Holocaust, about his mother and her fate, and about his experiences and firsthand observations of life in Nazi Germany before the war. He lives in Poughkeepsie, with his wife, Dr. Sara Fletcher Luther, a graduate of New Paltz's M.A. program in African Studies.

Diane Leonore Neumaier, professor of art photography and currently Graduate Director of the Visual Arts at the Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University, New Jersey, is the granddaughter of the opera singer. Professor Neumaier is an internationally exhibited artist and the author of numerous critical texts on contemporary photography.

The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art is open Tuesday - Friday, 12:00 noon - 4:00 PM, and Saturday and Sunday, 1:00 - 4:00 PM. Special hours may be arranged for organized tours and school groups. The Museum is closed on legal and school holidays and the first three weeks of June. Please call ahead to confirm that the museum is open. For directions or additional Museum information, call 845-257-3844 or go to www.newpaltz.edu/museum on the Web.

Selected images from "Leonore Schwarz Neumaier-A Voice Silenced" are available on the Web at www.newpaltz.edu/news/images/neumaier.html. Information on other upcoming arts events at SUNY New Paltz can be found on the Web at www.newpaltz.edu/artsnews or by calling 845-257-3872.

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