About the Opera

About the Opera

The Sparks Story

The Sparks Fly Upward begins on October 28, 1938 with the deportation of Polish Jews residing in Germany to Poland, and concludes with the liberation of Berlin in May 1945 and the re-dedication of the Neue Synagogue in Berlin in 1995. At times the families turn to the Book of Job for diversion, reassurance and enlightenment. Job’s suffering, and the contest between good and evil represented in his story, are reflected in the lives of the characters, who boldly face the question of man’s obligation to man in times of moral and political crisis. The Sparks Fly Upward is told completely through music and lyrics.

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The Sparks Music and Production

The Sparks Fly Upward premiered on November 8, 2008 in Des Moines, Iowa before a sold out audience of approximately 1100 people that gave the production a long and enthusiastic standing ovation.

Sparks and its music have been described as “beautiful,” “compelling,” “inspiring,” “unforgettable,” ”powerful,” “moving,” and “profound.” The Sparks production uses over 100 historical photographs and newspaper clippings projected on stage, which give the story authenticity and context.

The historical accuracy of the story, music, lyrics and photos taken together teach history, pay tribute to the victims and heroes of the Holocaust, and provide audiences with a deep and moving theatrical experience. Sparks has a transformative message and the power to inspire audiences to awareness and action about the Holocaust, genocide, intolerance and hatred.

Watch this Sample of the Music from Sparks

This promotional video was prepared for a special free screening of The Sparks Fly Upward at MetroStage Theater,  Alexandria, VA, in 2014.

A Concert Production of “Peace”

Listen to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology concert choir singing this piece from the opera at the university’s holocaust commemoration.


“Seventy years ago in Germany, when Nazi officers incited the overnight riots that became known as Kristallnacht, the event was marked by violence and ugly ignorance. On Saturday here in Des Moines, the world premiere of an opera about the Holocaust had just the opposite effect. “The Sparks Fly Upward,” by Drake University law professor Cathy Lesser Mansfield, is a moving testament to the power of peace and understanding.”
“But to Mansfield’s credit, she strikes a fine balance between left-brained history and right-brained art. She distills decades of research into a compelling story with authentic shivers of fear and surprising grace.”

What They’re Saying…