On December 24th a foursome of Israeli vocalists - pop singer Shlomit Aharon and three tenors Guy Manheim, Yosef Aridan and Yotam Cohen - supported by seven musicians on a richly designed stage, will present their new program in a festive concert at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center.
The project is an amalgam of old Israeli songs in new arrangements as well as opera classics, says Aharon, as she sits in a bustling Tel Aviv cafe on a winter afternoon. "Opera has theatricality and powerful emotions that have always attracted me and that are sort of subdued in pop music, which is my major field. This style gives me an opportunity to fully express myself.
Coming from a family of Holocaust survivors, Aharon says she knew that she was born to sing from an early age. "I believe that I have inherited this gift from my mother, who was a soprano singer in Yiddish theater. I think it was singing that helped her to rebuild her life in the new country. We never spoke of the Holocaust at home, but there always was that slight cloud of sadness and my sister and I knew that we needed to be good girls so as not to hurt our parents after everything they had been through."
Aharon is probably most famous for her membership in the cult Hakol Over Habibi ensemble, with which she toured Israel and also appeared abroad. But after fifteen years with "Habibi" Aharon quitted and launched an independent career, appearing with solo programs and producing albums. She also successfully performed together with a Russian Israeli opera tenor Yevgeny Shapovalov, and when the latter left the country, Aharon felt that she wanted to keep developing the same style.
"KIKI ROTSHTEIN, once a 'Habibi' member and later a producer and my personal manager, is behind our current program," says Aharon, noting that finding tenors for this specific program was not an easy task. "My three partners are excellent opera singers and charming human beings, which is very important, because things start to happen on stage due to the interaction between us.
Old songs from the "Habibi" period, as well as other pieces, were arranged by Ohad Hitman, and Aharon finds them "absolutely great. Ohad took the old songs to new places, they got a new and contemporary look. This is not simple, and people aren't always ready to accept it, but Hitman did a clever job here and from the audience's reaction we see that it works. Sometimes he simply plays with the songs, so that opera arias sound jazzy. I love working with him, because the text and the overall message of the song are as important for him as they are for me."
Aharon adds that some of the arrangements were created by her pianist Dror Alexander, "and they are excellent, too. The songs are familiar to the audience, but because of arrangements and rich stage direction by Tzedi Tzarfati the listeners receive something new and different."
The festive concert takes place December 24 at 9 P.M. at TAPAC, with more concerts scheduled to take place throughout the country.