With style and panache

Soprano Keren Hadar sings the title role of Carmen in the season opening of the Haifa Symphony.

October 20, 2011 16:03
3 minute read.
Soprano Keren Hadar

Soprano Keren Hadar 311. (photo credit: Daniel Chechik)

"For me, with my theater background, when it comes to opera performance, credibility is what counts,” says singer Keren Hadar, who will appear with the Haifa Symphony and its artistic director Noam Sheriff in their season’s opening concerts in the title role of Bizet’s Carmen.

“I am proud to join the impressive list of soprano singers who have performed Carmen. Although this is a mezzo-soprano role, it is also sung by sopranos; but for this role a special temperament is demanded. But then again, this role is true challenge,” says Hadar. “Carmen is a strong and independent personality. She knows what she wants from her life, her freedom is dear for her; and in a way, I can easily identify with this character. Whatever happens – and even when she realizes she is going to die – she keeps her style and her dignity, and she is always cool!” she says.

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“In theater it is the text that is important, while in opera it’s the music. Carmen is a Gypsy. With her, I feel more liberated as compared to Mozart arias. I feel free to sing in the way I would say it as a theater actress. And I hope I will do it well.”

One of the important Israeli singers today, Hadar got hooked on opera at the age of 15 when she first heard The Phantom of the Opera musical, believing that this was a true opera.

She entered the Petah Tikva Conservatory, where she studied music “with the utmost passion,” as she recollects, and continued her studies in two directions. She is a graduate of the Beit Zvi Theater School and the Music Academy.

In 2007, she spent “probably the most exciting and important year” in Berlin, studying opera with the support of the Barenboim – Said Foundation. “I got the full scholarship, and it was by pure chance. I was asked to pass a score on to Daniel Barenboim, who at that time was in Jerusalem. When I entered his room, somebody said, ‘This is that singer I told you about.’ ‘So you are a singer,’ said Barenboim. ‘Come and sing for me tomorrow.’ After the audition, he granted me the scholarship on the spot,” she recounts.


“In Berlin, I had four lessons a week, and I went out to opera houses almost every night. Once, I heard three different versions of The Magic Flute within one month! And then I kept touring, dividing my time between Europe and Israel.”

After performing a few roles at the Cameri, Beersheba and Sifriya theaters, she now dedicates her time to music. At the opening of the 2011-12 season, she has already appeared with the Rishon Symphony with a program of Luciano Berio songs, and with the IPO performing Leonard Bernstein’s vocal pieces. Her future plans include appearances with local orchestras, recording sessions at home and abroad, as well as recitals.

Opera and Hebrew songs are two of Hadar’s major loves. “I believe that we have nothing to be ashamed of,” she says. “Musically speaking, Hebrew songs are as rich as German lieder and French chansons.”

Today Hadar is a proud mother of a 18-month-old twins, a boy and a girl. “Because of them, I stopped touring abroad. It turned out that I am simply unable to tear myself away from the kids. But next summer I will go to Poland for two weeks to record an opera, and most probably after that I will resume touring.”

But she is very happy in her new quality. “Not only has my voice improved since they were born, but the kids have given a real taste to my life. How do I manage to combine motherhood with my professional career? That’s a good question. The overall feeling is one of guilt – that I am not enough: I don’t spend enough time with my infants and don’t dedicate enough time to the music!” she laughs.

The Haifa Symphony under Noam Sheriff performs Carmen on October 30 and 31 at the Haifa Auditorium. Among the soloists: Raffaele Seppe, Gabriele Ribis, Michael Gaisinsky, Maria Kabelsky and others, as well as the Bat-Shir and Yihud choirs. For reservations, call (04) 859-9499.

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