CNY Arts, Inc.


"The Golden Cage" to Broadcast Premiere on WCNY

Syracuse – CNY Arts is pleased to announce the television premiere of The Golden Cage, an historic operetta that tells the remarkable account of a predominantly Jewish refugee community in Oswego during the Second World War. The Golden Cage will broadcast on January 25, at 10:00 pm, and January 31, at 10:00 pm, on WCNY-TV. The Golden Cage was staged by the Oswego Opera Theater, and a recording of this original performance was co-produced by CNY Arts and edited by WCNY.

Between 1944 and 1946, 982 Holocaust survivors sought safety at the Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter, the only such facility in the United States. However, the Shelter was also temporary – displaced individuals were expected to return to Europe at the conclusion of the war. Two occupants, Austrian conductor Charles Abeles and German librettist Miriam Sommerburg, collaborated to write an original operetta. Mr. Abeles, Ms. Sommerburg, and fellow refugees hoped that the work might convince authorities to offer permanent asylum.

First performed on New Year’s Eve 1945, the story is an account of the refugees’ homeland, their escape from persecution, perilous journey to America, and experience at the Shelter. And although the Shelter served as a haven, the community lacked freedom and opportunity to live an independent lifestyle, inspiring “the golden cage.” Fortunately, just days before the operetta’s premiere, President Truman authorized visa status for Shelter residents, many of whom would ultimately apply for American citizenship.

The original score was presumed lost until a draft was recently discovered in a nearly forgotten trunk belonging to Mr. Abeles’ nephew in Germany. A copy of the text was also found in a separate document in the United States. In 2022, the Oswego Opera Theater performed The Golden Cage. The score was edited by Juan LaManna, Artistic Director of the Oswego Opera Theater and co-directed with Benjamin Spierman from the Bronx Theater Company. Many actors and musicians were cast locally, alongside performers from New York City.

Today, The Golden Cage remains an important part of our Central New York regional heritage and national history. In honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, CNY Arts invites viewers to experience a powerful and timely story and celebrate the artistry and resilience of the Jewish refugee community. CNY Arts is proud to partner with WCNY and Oswego Opera Theater, and grateful to Empire State for supporting the production of this brand-new, culturally significant telecast. 

For more information about the broadcast of The Golden Cage, please navigate to


CNY Arts is the regional arts council, promoting, supporting, and celebrating arts and culture in Central New York. CNY Arts provides support and assistance to artists and arts organizations in a six-county Central New York and the Mohawk Valley region through access to grants, capacity-building assistance, education and training, and promotional services.

Watch the preview here.