In their decades of friendship, Oliver shared many deep interests, especially in music, with Tobias Picker and Aryeh Lev Stollman, and they frequently spoke of the Awakenings patients. Sacks was deeply affected by Picker’s symphonic and especially his operatic works, which he saw in Santa Fe, New York, and Glimmerglass.
The two men began discussing an operatic adaptation of Awakenings in the late 1990s. Picker’s husband, his partner in life and opera, Aryeh Lev Stollman, is, like Sacks or Chekhov, a literary physician, who combines the acute eye and observational skills of a doctor with the eloquence of a novelist. In his libretto for Awakenings, Aryeh gives authentic life to the patients’ stories (no less than the doctor’s own story), embracing both the medical reality and the mythic qualities that make this such a deeply human tale.
Oliver would have been deeply moved to see and hear this new work, and we at the Oliver Sacks Foundation are enormously grateful to Tobias Picker and Aryeh Lev Stollman for bringing it to the world, reminding us all of the power of love, music, and human resilience.
June 5—24, 2022
2 hours, 30 minutes
130 Edgar Road,
St. Louis, MO 63119
Watch a recording from the October 2019 workshop for Awakenings, at Opera Fusion in Cincinatti, Ohio