1-20 of 23 results  for:

  • Musical Concepts, Genres, and Terms x
  • Jewish Music x
Clear all

Article

William Y. Elias

Opera in two acts (16 scenes) by Josef Tal to a libretto (in Hebrew) by Israel Eliraz; Hamburg, Städtische Oper, 9 November 1971 (in German).

Inspired by an ancient Talmudic legend, and an allegory about totalitarianism, the opera is set in an idyllic, peaceful country. The King (lyric baritone) hates the Queen (mezzo-soprano), whom he married only to prevent war with her father, and is in love with the Landlady (soprano). In Act 1, the devil Ashmedai (tenor) appears one night to the King and suggests that if he, Ashmedai, could rule as king for a year, he could turn the peace-loving citizens into bloodthirsty savages while the King could live happily with the Landlady. The King has such faith in his people that he agrees to the bet, but as soon as Ashmedai assumes the physical traits of the King and ascends the throne the citizens turn into intolerant, aggressive killers. A terrible war breaks out, causing total destruction. In Act 2, Ashmedai has won his bet, but the real King refuses to reclaim the throne because his faith in his people has been shattered. Ashmedai changes into a rooster and is devoured, unknowingly, by the Queen and her entourage. The King returns to his throne but refuses to continue the war, despite the advice of his Son (tenor), the commander of the army, and is lynched by the furious masses. Ashmedai appears to the people but they refuse to believe the truth. In an apocalyptic scene the physical world disintegrates, leaving only the King’s naked body with his anguished, faithful Daughter (soprano) leaning over him....

Article

John S. Powell

(‘David and Jonathan’)

Sacred opera in five acts by Marc-Antoine Charpentier to a libretto by François Bretonneau; Paris, Collège Louis-le-Grand, 28 February 1688.

The drama is set in the Holy Lands during biblical times. King Saul (bass), on the eve of his battle against the Philistines, consults a Witch (haute-contre), who in turn summons the ghost of Samuel (bass); Samuel predicts defeat. David (haute-contre), banished from the camp of the Israelites by Saul, has joined the Philistine army. In spite of his desire for peace, David is forced to fight against the Israelites and his beloved friend Jonathas [Jonathan] (soprano), son of Saul. When he sees his sons dying and himself about to be captured, Saul falls on his sword. Jonathan, mortally wounded, dies in David’s arms, while the Israelites proclaim David to be Saul’s successor as their king.

David et Jonathas served as a five-part intermède to the spoken tragedy ...

Article

Golem  

Andrew Clements

Opera in two parts (Prelude and legend) by John Casken to a libretto by the composer with Pierre Audi; London, Almeida Theatre, 28 June 1989.

The ancient Jewish legend of the Golem describes how a saviour figure is created to protect the innocent when a community is under threat. Casken’s treatment of the legend relates its main action in flashback. In the Prelude the Maharal (baritone) remembers in old age how, many years before, he had created a golem. Accompanied by six ghostly madrigalists (the other members of the cast), he relives in his imagination the events that led to the death of his creation, while Ometh (countertenor) reminds the Maharal of his own role in the tragedy. The Legend then tells that story in five scenes. The young Maharal creates the Golem (bass-baritone) from clay on the banks of a river, although Ometh, a wounded, Promethean figure, questions his motives. As the Golem learns to talk and to perform everyday tasks, he comes into contact with the townspeople, with Stoikus (tenor), mourning the loss of his own son, and Miriam (soprano), the Maharal’s wife, whom the Golem desires. Ometh arrives and confronts the Maharal: together with the Golem he could drive evil out of the world; the Maharal angrily dismisses him. When the townspeople meet to rise up against their oppression, the Golem unwittingly interrupts them; after being taunted he kills Stoikus. He is briefly united with Ometh, but the Maharal intervenes, only to discover the murder and what his creation has done....

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Bucharest, c 1952). Israeli soprano of Romanian birth . She studied in Tel-Aviv and in Zürich, where she made her début in 1977 as the Queen of Night; in 1978 she sang the same role at Glyndebourne. Engaged with the Deutsche Oper, Berlin, from 1980, she has also sung in Hamburg, Munich, Vienna and Cologne and at La Scala. In ...

Article

Christopher Smith

(b Paris, Jan 1, 1834; d Paris, May 8, 1908). French librettist . He belonged to a distinguished Jewish family; his uncle was the composer Fromental Halévy, and his father, Léon, was respected in literary circles. On leaving the renowned Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris he had little difficulty, despite an unimpressive academic record, in obtaining civil service appointments. Plainly he had both ability and the benefits of patronage. His interests, however, lay in the theatre. Initially he adopted the pseudonym Jules Servières, and later, in 1858, when working with Crémieux on the libretto for Orphée aux enfers (with which Offenbach was to have such a significant success), he is said to have insisted that the credit and the royalties should go to his collaborator; at a time when his prospects in colonial administration were especially promising, he was afraid his reputation might be blighted by association with opéra comique...

Article

J.B. Steane

(b Vienna, March 23, 1895; d New York, 15 Dec. 1974). Austrian soprano . She studied in Vienna and made her début at Frankfurt in 1917, appearing in small roles and achieving a first notable success in Il barbiere. After a season at Darmstadt she sang at the Volksoper in Berlin where her parts included Konstanze in Die Entführung and Violetta in La traviata. In 1926 she became principal soprano in Munich at the Bavarian Staatsoper. She enjoyed a spectacular success at Monaco as Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos and also became a favourite at Salzburg. Guest appearances at the Vienna Staatsoper in the 1930s seemed about to lead to a substantial career but as a Jew she found her way blocked, and after a heroic period with the Jewish Theatre in Berlin left Europe for America, where she married the writer Jack Siegel and gave up her public career. A delicately clear and beautiful voice combined with remarkable agility and an imaginative style help to place her few recordings among the most delightful of the period....

Article

Joseph  

M. Elizabeth C. Bartlet

Drame mêlé de chants in three acts by Etienne-Nicolas Méhul to a libretto by Alexandre Duval after Genesis xxxvii–xlvi; Paris, Opéra-Comique (Théâtre Feydeau), 17 February 1807.

Although favoured by the pharaoh, Joseph (haute-contre), known in Egypt as Cléophas, misses his family and homeland. When famine brings his brothers there, he grants them his protection and hospitality. They fail to recognize him and this allows Joseph to test whether their remorse over selling him into slavery is genuine. When Ruben (tenor) mentions that their father is nearby, Joseph decides to go to the Israelites’ camp outside Memphis. First he meets Siméon (tenor), now almost mad with feelings of guilt, and becomes convinced of his brother’s repentance. The Israelites’ morning prayers are heard in the distance. Joseph is so overcome by seeing his youngest brother Benjamin (soprano) and then his father Jacob (baritone) again that he almost reveals his identity; but, warned by Utobal (baritone), he has to leave to intercede with the pharaoh: Joseph’s enemies have criticized his generosity towards foreigners. During Joseph’s absence Siméon confesses his crime to Jacob. At first Jacob denounces him and his guilty brothers, but Benjamin and later Joseph (still incognito) plead for them. Jacob begins to relent; Joseph reveals his identity and forgives them. The pharaoh has granted them sanctuary on Joseph’s request, and all thank God for his goodness and mercy....

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(‘The Polish Jew’)

Conte populaire d’Alsace in three acts by Camille Erlanger to a libretto by Henri Cain and Pierre-Barthélemy Gheusi after Erckmann-Chatrian’s novel of the same title; Paris, Opéra-Comique (Salle Favart), 11 April 1900.

Erlanger’s second opera and first great success, Le Juif polonais, based on the same legend as The Bells, Sir Henry Irving’s favourite drama, was given more than 50 times by the Opéra-Comique in 33 years. Mathis (baritone), the burgomaster haunted by the memory of a murder that he once committed, was created by Victor Maurel, whose highly dramatic performance no doubt accounted for much of the work’s initial success. In the same way that The Bells lost its popularity after Irving’s death, Erlanger’s work, although well crafted and appropriate to the subject, was insufficiently strong to keep the opera in the repertory once the melodramatic text became outmoded. The same subject was used for an opera by Karel Weis....

Article

Hugh Macdonald

(‘The Jewess’)

Opéra in five acts by (Jacques-François-)Fromental (-Elie) Halévy to a libretto by Eugène Scribe ; Paris, Opéra, 23 February 1835.

The first production of La Juive, in 1835, with Cornélie Falcon as Rachel, Julie Dorus-Gras as Princess Eudoxie, Adolphe Nourrit as Eléazar and Nicolas Levasseur as Brogni, was one of the most spectacular ever seen at the Opéra. The Act 1 procession and the Act 3 festival became famous for their splendour. One newspaper thought the procession, with all the leading figures on horseback, was the eighth wonder of the world.

Nothing is missing in this prodigious resurrection of a distant century. The costumes of the warriors, civilians and ecclesiastics are not imitated but reproduced in the smallest detail. The armour is not paste-board, it is real metal. One sees men of iron, men of silver, men of gold! The Emperor is a glittering ingot from head to foot! The Opéra may become a power capable of throwing its armies into the balance of power in Europe....

Article

Barry Millington

(Petrovich)

(b Yaroslavl’, 17/Sept 30, 1917). Israeli director of Russian origin. He began his career as an actor in Moscow, first with the Second Studio of the Moscow Arts Theatre, and then at the Vakhtangov Theatre, with which he toured Europe in 1957. From 1964 to 1984...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Haifa, July 2, 1949). Israeli soprano. She studied in Italy and in 1976 sang Leonora (Il trovatore) in Stockholm. She also sang Leonora with the WNO (1977) and the First Lady at Glyndebourne (1978); at Wexford (1978–9) she sang Marta (...

Article

Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

(d Kensington, London, bur. Aug 28, 1784). English soprano, actress and dancer. The daughter of a Jewish merchant (or tavern keeper) she made her début as Polly in The Beggar’s Opera at the newly opened Covent Garden Theatre in December 1732, with a run of 20 nights in succession. She played Deidamia in Gay’s posthumous ...

Article

O.W. Neighbour

(b Pressburg [now Bratislava], 1882; d Vienna, 1966). Austro-Hungarian writer and librettist . She came from a prosperous Jewish family and studied medicine, qualifying as a specialist in skin diseases in 1910. She married a psychiatrist, Hermann Frischauf. A convinced socialist by 1930, she joined the outlawed Austrian communist party but emigrated to Paris before the Anschluss and escaped to Mexico in 1940. In 1947 she returned to Vienna, where she continued to practise medicine until 1952.

As early as 1906 Pappenheim had published verses in Karl Kraus’s journal Die Fackel. Her importance in music is as the librettist of Schoenberg’s monodrama Erwartung (1909). After this collaboration she remained in touch with Schoenberg’s circle. She published a novel (1946) and a volume of poetry (1962).

E. Weissweiler: ‘“Schreiben Sie mir doch einen Operntext, Fräulein!”: Marie Pappenheims Text zu Arnold Schönbergs “Erwartung”’, NZM , Jg.145 (1984), no.6, pp.4–8...

Article

Bradford R. Devos

(b Constantinople [now Istanbul], Jan 6, 1903; d Long Island City, ny , Feb 28, 1974). American composer of Austrian descent. He studied at the Vienna Conservatory and later in Berlin with Schreker before emigrating to the USA in 1940. Settling in New York, he taught at the School of Sacred Music at Hebrew Union College and served as music director of the Free Synagogue in Flushing. He composed orchestral, chamber and vocal music, including three one-act operas. Isaac Levi, to a libretto by Ray Smolover, was first performed on 11 Dec 1956 in White Plains, New York. In a declamatory style with Romantic elements, it deals with problems facing contemporary Jewry, such as renunciation of faith, intermarriage and the Creator’s goodness. Satan’s Trap, to a libretto by Charles Levy after Gottfried Keller’s novel Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe, had its première in New York on 26 November 1961...

Article

Elizabeth Forbes

(b Liegnitz, Nov 22, 1921; d Heidelberg, Jan 15, 1989). Israeli bass of German birth. He studied in Berlin and Mannheim, making his début in 1961 at Gelsenkirchen as Iago. Engaged at Stuttgart, he sang regularly at Munich, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Düsseldorf and Berlin, where he created Soroker in Blacher’s 200 000 Taler (1969). Though his vast repertory included Don Alfonso and Hans Sachs, he specialized in 20th-century opera; he sang Dallapiccola’s Ulysses, Morone (Palestrina), Duke Adorno (Schreker’s Die Gezeichneten), Busoni’s Faust, Satan (Penderecki’s Paradise Lost), Reimann’s Lear and Schoenberg’s Moses (he has twice recorded the role of Moses). He created Löwel Perl in Penderecki’s Schwarze Maske at Salzburg (1986). The role that best displayed his outstanding musical and dramatic gifts was Dr Schön in Lulu, which he sang at Covent Garden (1981), at the Teatro Real in Madrid (...

Article

Cori Ellison

(b Kraków, Jan 27, 1895; d New York, Oct 17, 1985). American conductor of Polish birth. His musical studies were in Kraków and in Vienna with Schreker. He began his career in the opera houses of Darmstadt (1922–5) and Wiesbaden (1925–7). He spent one season at the Metropolitan Opera, where he made his début directing Lohengrin in 1929. Returning to Europe, he was music director of Mannheim Opera (1930–33) and of the Jewish Kulturbund in Berlin (1933–6) until he was compelled to flee Hitler’s Germany; he then conducted in Tokyo from 1937 to 1941. In 1948 he began a long association with New York City Opera, culminating in his appointment as general manager (1952–6). After conducting in Cologne, 1958–9, he returned to the Metropolitan (1961–8), directing 175 performances of 16 operas, chiefly works of Mozart, Strauss and Wagner....

Article

William Y. Elias

[Karl ]

(b Heidelberg, Nov 13, 1897; d Beit Zayit, nr Jerusalem, Jan 15, 1974). Israeli composer and conductor of German birth . A pupil of Richard Strauss at the Berlin Academy of Arts, he became a répétiteur at the Berlin Staatsoper, sang at the Hamburg Opera and conducted in Baden-Baden. After settling in Jerusalem in 1933, he became the first music director of the Jerusalem Broadcasting Service in 1936. In 1938 he founded the Israel Radio SO (now Jerusalem SO), and from 1957 to 1962 he was director of the Israel Broadcasting Authority’s Transcription Service. In Germany he was active in reviving Handel’s Rodelinda and in 1944 he organized the first Bach and Handel festival in Jerusalem.

On his arrival in Israel, Salmon became influenced by the folk music of the region, which resulted in such works as the Symphonic Suite on Greek Themes (1943) and the Sephardic Suite...

Article

Salome  

David Murray

Musikdrama in one act by Richard Strauss to Hedwig Lachmann’s German translation of Oscar Wilde’s play; Dresden, Hofoper, 9 December 1905.

After the mildly scandalous success of his second opera, Feuersnot, Strauss needed a new subject. Wolzogen, his collaborator on Feuersnot, worked hopefully at another raffish one-act comedy, drawn this time from Cervantes, but Strauss did nothing with it. Then a young Viennese poet sent him Wilde’s Salomé, proposing to adapt a libretto from it; the composer was cautiously interested (he imagined it, incredibly, as a possible pendant to Feuersnot). Though Wilde’s French original had been a failure in Paris, and in England the play was banned by the Lord Chamberlain, a German version had been well received in Breslau in 1901. Using a new translation, Max Reinhardt staged the play in Berlin the following year with spectacular success. Strauss saw it early in 1903 and swiftly decided to set this Lachmann version of the text as it stood, except for judicious trimming (mostly of subordinate clauses, though also of some marginal dialogue and one or two small roles). He began in earnest as he put the last touches to his ...

Article

Hugh Macdonald

(‘Samson and Delilah’)

Opéra in three acts and four tableaux by Camille Saint-Saëns to a libretto by Ferdinand Lemaire; Weimar, Grossherzogliches Theater, 2 December 1877.

In 1867, two years after composing his first opera, Le timbre d’argent, and with no clear prospect of seeing it staged, Saint-Saëns embarked on an oratorio on the biblical story of Samson and Delilah. The subject was suggested by Voltaire’s libretto Samson for Rameau. He admired Handel and Mendelssohn and was an enthusiastic supporter of the newly flourishing French choral movement. Saint-Saëns later wrote:

A young relative of mine had married a charming young man who wrote verse on the side. I realized that he was gifted and had in facts real talent. I asked him to work with me on an oratorio on a biblical subject. ‘An oratorio!’, he said, ‘no, let’s make it an opera!’, and he began to dig through the Bible while I outlined the plan of the work, even sketching scenes, and leaving him only the versification to do. For some reason I began the music with Act 2, and I played it at home to a select audience who could make nothing of it at all....

Article

Harold Love

(b Jan 30, 1830; d Melbourne, Nov 29, 1899). Australian impresario. A violinist of German-Jewish descent, he went to Australia in 1865 as a touring concert artist with his French wife Fannie (née Dehaes, 1835–96), a soprano. In 1866 the couple joined W. S. Lyster’s opera company, in which Fannie had great success as Sélika in L’Africaine and Martin a less shining stint as conductor. In 1876, after alternating for some years between Australia and Europe, the couple formed a touring opéra bouffe company whose chief production was Maillart’s Les dragons de Villars. When, after Lyster’s death in 1880, his successor George Musgrove withdrew from the promotion of grand opera, Simonsen seized the opportunity to recruit a large Italian company, which toured with great success in 1886–7. A second Simonsen Italian company (1888) was of lesser calibre. Depressed by encroaching deafness and blindness, he died by his own hand. Three of his daughters by Fannie became professional singers, the best known being Frances Saville (...