Another extremely enjoyable concert was held at Bet Israel recently: “Opera Fashion”, sponsored jointly by “She’arim” and “Bet Israel”. Here are some photos (courtesy of Alan Stein), followed by a detailed description of the concert by Marsha Stein.
On Wednesday evening, November 30th, we attended a She’arim gala concert, entitled “Opera Fashion,” held at our synagogue in Netanya. We have attended numerous such concerts during our eight winters here but in my opinion, last night’s was the best so far.
Some of the performers were familiar to us from past concerts; several were new to us. One standout was soprano Galina Khylzova in her performance of “The Doll Song” from J. Offenbach’s “The Tales of Hoffman.” In this aria, the artist portrays a doll-like woman and Khylzova added charming acting abilities to her outstanding voice. Dressed in pink from head to toe, she made her way to the stage in staccato-like movements and sang the piece as if she were a mechanical doll, even “winding down” a few times, requiring a young man from the front row to mount the stage and “rewind” her before she continued the aria. Parts of the song are exaggerated notes that both show off the soprano’s musical talent and highlight her acting skill. An opera-loving friend sitting next to me remarked that Galina was as good as anyone she has seen in the role.
Five opera singers, three pianists, and a string and flute orchestra performed on a stage adorned with hanging collages of the singers in their various roles. The bema looked more like a stage and less like a religious platform due to the work of decorator Tatiana Voronin. Our host and emcee, Dr. Aiton Birnbaum, spoke in both Hebrew and English so the varied audience of Russian, Hebrew, French and English speakers could understand more about each composer and each opera and selection being highlighted.
Violinists Liora Altschuler, Elizabeth Kutsovsky, and Anna Doulov along with violist Svetlana Litvin, cellist Alexander Doulov, contrabassist Alexander Osipenko and flautist Michael Litvin opened the program appropriately with “Uvertura” from Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville.” The delightful orchestra of young musicians was accompanied by Irina Rozhneva on piano. It was not lost on me that there appeared to be two couples in the grouping, in keeping with the not infrequent appearance at the Monday noontime She’arim concerts of musical couples performing together.
Baritone Igor Tavrovsky sang “Largo al Factotum” from “The Barber of Seville” acompained on piano by Irina Rozhneva.
In addition to “The Doll Song,” which I so enjoyed, soprano Maria Kabelsky and mezzo-soprano Ilona Toivis, performing the role of a man, sang Offenbach’s “Barcarolla” accompanied by Alla Danzig on piano. Charming as Toivis, whom we have heard before, is singing a female part, she did a fine job of singing the male role, dressed as she was in 17th century suit with her hair worn not unlike a man might have worn it in the late 1800s.
Next we heard two works by Donizetti from “The Love Potion” (L’elisir d’amore), “Romanza di Nemorino” song by tenor Yotam Cohen and accompanied by Alla Danzig on piano, and “Duet Nemorin & Adina” for which Maria Kabelsky joined Cohen with her lovely soprano and Nadia Fridkovsky (Alla Danzig’s sister) accompanied on piano.
After a brief intermission to mingle with friends in the audience, Yotam Cohem, with Alla Danzig accompanying, performed “Smith’s Serenade” from “The Fair Maid of Perth” by Bizet.
Selected from “The Snow Maiden” by Rimsky-Korsakov was “Snow Maiden’s Aria” sung by the former doll, Galina Khlyzova to Irina Rozhneva’s accompaniment and the “Duet of Snow Maiden and MIzgir” with baritone Igor Tavrovsky singing with Khlyzova.
Ilona Toivis, performing again as a woman, sang “Cavatina de Page (Non, vous n’avez jamais) from “Les Huguenots” by Meyerbeer. Alla Danzig accompanied on piano.
The program ened with three selections from Verdi’s “La Traviata.” Maria Kabelsky sang the aria of Violetta, “E strano!” accompanied by Nadia Fridkovsky. She was then joined by Yotam Cohen for the duet between Alfredo and Violetta “Parigi, O Cara” and finally, “Libiamo” for which all the singers joined the pair on stage.