The year was 1922: World War I had just come to a close, the Ottoman Empire was in decline, and Asa Jennings, a YMCA worker from upstate New York, had just arrived in the quiet coastal city of Smyrna to teach sports to boys. Several hundred miles to the east in Turkey’s interior, tensions between Greeks and Turks had boiled over into deadly violence.

Turkish soldiers proceeded to burn the city and rape and kill countless Christian refugees. Unwilling to leave with the other American civilians and determined to get Armenians and Greeks out of the doomed city, Jennings worked tirelessly to feed and transport the thousands of people gathered at the city’s Quay. With the help of naval officer Halsey Powell, and a handful of others, Jennings commandeered a fleet of unoccupied Greek ships and was able to evacuate a quarter million innocent people.

    Bard SummerScape 2013 presents seven inspired weeks of opera, music, theater, dance, film, and cabaret. This summer Bard College, in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, presents their 24th annual Bard Music Festival with the theme "Stravinsky and His World."

A major highlight of the season, however, isn't by Stravinsky but is instead by Sergey Taneyev - a composer Stravinsky admired. Thaddeus Strassberger returns to SummerScape to direct Oresteia, with The American Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leon Botstein. Performances begin at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts on Friday, July 26th.

Thaddeus and SummerScape Opera producer, Susanna Meyer join us to tell us more.

Joe Donahue speaks with Madeline Miller about her book, The Song of Achilles: A Novel.