These days, you’re not going to grab too many headlines by merely putting on a multidisciplinary entertainment offering. We are long used to mixes of, say, classical music and animation or various fusions of music and dance.
Then again, Roy Oppenheim and Zohar Sharon have been at the forefront of shaking up our perceptions of artistic presentation for some time. The former is a conductor-pianist, who also blows a good tune or two on saxophone and trumpet, while Sharon is a leading composer-educator. In 2004, the former fellow Hebrew University Academy of Music and Dance students founded a vehicle for furthering frontier-flexing projects which, naturally enough, they called the Revolution Orchestra.
Sharon serves as the ensemble’s music director, while Oppenheim can generally be found on the conductor’s dais.
The orchestra is probably best known as the linchpin of the ClassiRock series at the Opera House, which featured a host of big names from the commercial end of the music sector, such as Aviv Gefen and Ninet Tayeb. That was a good primer for the latest Oppenheim-Sharon cross-genre offering, a four-part series of hybrid creations that will run at the Opera House over the next nine months. First up is the Lanua Bli Lazuz show slated for 9 p.m. on Thursday.
The name of the show is a head scratcher if you’re looking to convey the meaning in English.
Basically, lanua and lazuz are synonyms for the verb “to move” in Hebrew. So what gives? What gives is a multidisciplinary, multi-sensory production that marries high-quality orchestral music with acting, dynamic performance and some envelope-pushing technology. The latter, overseen by Yoav Cohen, in collaboration with director Ido Riklin, choreographer Miri Lazar and lighting designer Ronnen Najar, will help to give the impression of movement by various members of the orchestra and add visual and emotional depth to the show.
Even after more than a decade of sterling adventurous work, Oppenheim says the upcoming series is a game changer for him, Sharon and the rest of the artistic revolutionaries.
“This year, we are taking a meteoric leap in terms of the Revolution Orchestra,” he suggests. “The Opera House is hosting a new series which is all original Israeli work and interdisciplinary.
Thursday’s series opener is classified as “a musical fantasy for an actor, orchestra and video.”
The thespian in question is Ran Danker, who is probably better known for his rock vocals but has also built up a neat acting portfolio over the years. The other three legs take in theater, pop and rock, in tandem with the classically oriented orchestral score.
“We were looking to do something with music and something else, but with music always at the core,” explains Oppenheim.
Clearly, neither Sharon nor the conductor is a beaten path advocate.
“An orchestra comprises players who perform music, and music is not a genre,” notes Oppenheim. “We are used to defining music as classical, modern and such like. But that is not the case.”
Then again, if you are going to challenge the public and try to drag them away from the tendency to pigeon hole, you are going to have to educate your audiences, too. Sharon is aware of that.
“When people hear the word ’orchestra’ and the word ‘opera,’ they immediately assume they are going to hear an orchestra play opera music,” he says. “But we are not a regular orchestra. We are people who create. We are not going to have any opera. The nearest we get to opera in this series is rock opera. Part of our work is to explain to people that they are not coming to hear repertory music or opera. They are coming to hear original work.”
The term “original” can set some on their hind legs and impart the idea of left field endeavor.
That can be a complete turn-off for those who prefer to stick to their comfort zone. Sharon is quick to scotch that idea.
“Original work means we create communicative music. This is not avant-garde; we are not going to play anything bizarre. This is all new music, which is communicative, for a new show,” he says.
What the audience will get on Thursday is a feast for the eyes and ears and more. Sharon is confident that he, Oppenheim and the rest of their cohorts will have their Opera House audience riveted to its seats and coming back for more.
“Some of the people that come to the Opera House are open-minded. I am sure they will become our subscribers. That’s what happened with Replay,” he notes, referencing the orchestra’s 2014 visual-sonic extravaganza at the Opera House which evoked the ghosts of such past cultural icons as John Lennon, Astor Piazzolla, Glenn Gould, Jimmy Hendrix, Luciano Pavarotti and Edith Piaf.
“I saw interviews with some of the members of the audience after the show,” Sharon continues.
“They didn’t know what they were going to get, but they really enjoyed it. People don’t just come to consume music. They come for the experience.”
“We call it a roller coaster ride,” adds Oppenheim. “They come for an interdisciplinary intercultural event. Zohar and I call ourselves roller coaster roller coasters. We know when it’s time to take a turn, when to go into a loop, and when to take a breather. At the end of the day, people don’t say [in serious tones] ‘I heard Bach’ or ‘I heard some other well-known composer.’ It’s about the experience. People don’t know what they are going to get. They are going to get something interesting.”
Having an experience on Thursday appears to be well and truly in the cards.
Lanua Bli Lazuz will be performed on Thursday at 9 p.m. at the Opera House in Tel Aviv. For tickets and more information:
(03) 692-7777 and www.israel-opera.co.il