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Jewish Operas Vol. 2

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Eddins
This second volume of excerpts from Jewish operas continues Naxos' Milken Archive of American Jewish Music series, and includes selections from two operas based on contemporary literature, and one derived from the Bible. David Schiff's "Gimpel the Fool" 1974-1985 is based on Isaac Bashevis Singer's most famous story and was originally in Yiddish, but is presented here in an English version. Schiff's eclectic score incorporates Ashkenazi cantorial traditions, as well as klezmer, jazz, and blues influences, and its directness, humor, and melancholy are perfectly suited to the tone of the Singer story. If these brief excerpts are representative of the opera as a whole, it ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Eddins
This second volume of excerpts from Jewish operas continues Naxos' Milken Archive of American Jewish Music series, and includes selections from two operas based on contemporary literature, and one derived from the Bible. David Schiff's "Gimpel the Fool" 1974-1985 is based on Isaac Bashevis Singer's most famous story and was originally in Yiddish, but is presented here in an English version. Schiff's eclectic score incorporates Ashkenazi cantorial traditions, as well as klezmer, jazz, and blues influences, and its directness, humor, and melancholy are perfectly suited to the tone of the Singer story. If these brief excerpts are representative of the opera as a whole, it would be a very attractive piece to hear and see in its entirety. The excerpts receive assured performances from Kenneth Kiesler leading the University of Michigan Opera Orchestra and Chorus and soloists. Theodore Bikel provides the narration that ties the excerpts together. Elie Siegmeister's 1985 "Lady of the Lake" is based on the story by Bernard Malamud, and concerns the disastrous romantic consequences of a man's denial of his Jewishness. Siegmeister's score exemplifies much of what was wrong with American opera in the second half of the twentieth century -- a musical language hovering uneasily between tonality and atonality, unwilling to relax into genuine lyricism, random-sounding text setting that expresses little relationship to the dramatic situation, and ponderously overwrought orchestration. The New York City Opera premiered Hugo Weisgall's "Esther" in 1993. Weisgall has the instincts of a theater composer, and while his music is primarily atonal, he writes skillfully for the voice, and his inventive and atmospheric musical gestures aptly express the drama on-stage, drawing the listener into the characters' dilemmas. The intriguing and too-brief excerpts here leave the listener wishing for a complete version of the opera, which would make an ideal project for the Milken Archive of American Jewish Music. Gerard Schwarz leads the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and soloists in confident performances of the Siegmeister and Weisgall. Naxos' program booklet includes librettos and extensive notes on the operas.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 11/21/2006
  • Label: Milken Archive
  • UPC: 636943945025
  • Catalog Number: 8559450
  • Sales rank: 284,486

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Gimpel the Fool, opera: Scene 10: Lullaby - David Schiff & Theodore Bikel (3:59)
  2. 2 Gimpel the Fool, opera: Scene 11: Pantomime - David Schiff & Theodore Bikel (1:39)
  3. 3 Gimpel the Fool, opera: Scene 11a: Bread Song - David Schiff & Theodore Bikel (3:24)
  4. 4 Gimpel the Fool, opera: Scene 11b: Night Music - David Schiff & Theodore Bikel (2:41)
  5. 5 Gimpel the Fool, opera: Scene 11c: Gimpel and the Goat - David Schiff & Theodore Bikel (2:17)
  6. 6 Gimpel the Fool, opera: Scene 11d: Elka's "Gvald" - David Schiff & Theodore Bikel (1:32)
  7. 7 Gimpel the Fool, opera: Scene 11e: The Divorce - David Schiff & Theodore Bikel (3:09)
  8. 8 Gimpel the Fool, opera: Scene 11f: Gimpel's Second Monologue - David Schiff & Theodore Bikel (1:33)
  9. 9 Lady of the Lake, opera: Scene 5 - Elie Siegmeister & Gerard Schwarz (9:15)
  10. 10 Lady of the Lake, opera: Interlude - Elie Siegmeister & Gerard Schwarz (1:25)
  11. 11 Lady of the Lake, opera: Scene 6 - Elie Siegmeister & Gerard Schwarz (2:18)
  12. 12 Lady of the Lake, opera: Scene 7 - Elie Siegmeister & Gerard Schwarz (4:47)
  13. 13 Esther, opera: Act I. Scene 8 (excerpt) - Hugo Weisgall & Juliana Gondek (3:48)
  14. 14 Esther, opera: Act III. Scene 2 - Hugo Weisgall & Juliana Gondek (3:57)
  15. 15 Esther, opera: Act III. Scene 10 - Hugo Weisgall & Juliana Gondek (7:28)
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