Saturday, January 12, 2008

Romeo & Juliet + The Exorcist = a new Dybbuk opera

A new production of the Dybbuk will raise curtains in Montreal in two weeks. Composed by Ofer Ben-Amots, it features Yahli Toren and the QAT Ensemble. Toren is "one of the foremost singers/performers from Tel Aviv and is known for her cross over between folklore and art music". The QAT Ensemble is a Montreal-based chamber music quartet. If you follow their links to their MySpace pages, you can hear some lovely recordings including the finale to the Dybbuk on the QAT page. Ben Amots is an Israeli composer currently on the faculty of Colorodo College. According to his bio, "Ofer Ben-Amots’ works have been repeatedly recognized for their emotional and highly personal expression. The interweaving of folk elements with contemporary textures, along with his unique imaginative orchestration, creates the haunting dynamic tension that permeates and defines Mr. Ben-Amots’ musical language"

Here's Ben-Amots 'Nigun of The Seven Circles' and 'Red Curtain Dance' from the Dybbuk Suite.

Nigun of The Seven Circles

'Red Curtain Dance'

Here's the official promo description:
"Based on the classic Jewish play by S. Ansky, this new 3-Act opera features renowned international artists, and combines music, drama, dance, realtime video projections, and more. The world premiere of this production will be held in Montreal at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts. The Dybbuk has been often described as Romeo & Juliet meets The Exorcist. Indeed, the play’s subtitle, Between Two Worlds, indicates the duality, which is both the center and source of the haunting drama of life vs. death, demonic vs. angelic, the natural vs. the unnatural, the ancient customs vs. modernity. Channan and Leah are betrothed to each other by their fathers even before their birth. But the two are denied their fate when Leah’s father breaks the marriage contract and offers his daughter to a richer man. Chanan attempts through mysticism and magic to regain Leah, but weakened from prolonged prayer and fasting, he dies and enters the spirit world.

In this chamber opera, Ofer Ben-Amots characterizes the separate realms of the two central characters by having Leah carry the vocal role - singing, reciting, and acting - while the role of the other main character, Channan, is performed wordlessly entirely on the clarinet. In Hebrew and English."
The Dybbuk will be performed on January 24th and 26th 2008 at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts in Montreal and will then tour to Germany, the Czech Republic, and the US. To bad it won't be performed anywhere near here, I'd love to see it.

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