Thursday, June 18, 2009

Charlette Shulamit Ottolenghi: Italia Ebraica

I recently got an email from Italian-Israeli vocalist Charlette Shulamit Ottolenghi, and I'm very glad I did. Ottolenghi is a proud heir of the Italian Jewish musical tradition and recorded a lovely album called "Hebraica Italia" that
"... reproduces melodies drawn from her early childhood religious experience and her study of the magnificent and rare Jewish Italian Liturgy.Traditional Jewish prayers in Hebrew, with the particular melodies that developed during the two thousand years of continuous presence of Jews in Italy."
It's a bit of a romantic conceit to suggest she's singing two thousand year old melodies (texts maybe, melodies no), but that's ok. It's a common one for this kind of album and it doesn't diminish her achievement. Ottolenghi's voice is stately and nuanced, even when it floats over driving mid-eastern drums or electronic burbles. Here's a great example*, where she bounces between Hebrew and Italian on the Passover classic "Who Knows One" ("Chi Sapeva" in Italian, "Echod Mi Yodea" in Hebrew.)

Chi sapeva (Who Knows One)

You can check out other samples from Hebraica on her web page.

(*Personally, while I really enjoyed Ottolenghi's album there were moments I wanted to put a cork in the soprano sax. JUST STOP PLAYING FOR A MINUTE. yesh).

Update: Ottolenghi let me know that while she has the many recorded tracks on the website, she has not released a full album yet. She's working on it and will let us know when she does.


Anonymous said...

I went to a concert of C.S. Ottolenghi a couple of years ago, in Tel Aviv. It was superbe and the audience was enthusiastic. Since then, I try to follow all her performances in Israel.

Ruth B.

Jack said...


I'm glad to hear that. I hope to catch her live someday.