The Israel Festival is, of course, the biggest event in the national cultural calendar, and it would be a shame not to catch at least one show from the 19-day program, even if you don’t live in Jerusalem.
Those who are worried about their car’s ability to make it up the hills – or just feel Jerusalem is a long way to go for a show – will be delighted to know that there is plenty of festival fare on offer elsewhere in the country. Tel Aviv and its environs, naturally, hosts most of the non-Jerusalem shows, but there are theatrical and music shows in Modi’in and Haifa, too.
The main extra-Jerusalem venue is the Holon Mediatheque, with three shows.
On May 29, it will stage a coproduction between the house theater company and the National Theater for Youth, based on the Erich Kastner book Lottie and Lisa
, called Double Ora
in the Hebrew version.
The book is a comedy which tells the story of two nine-year-olds who meet at a summer camp, and discover they are twins. One lives in the city and the other in the country; at the end of the camp, they decide to swap homes.
The show will take place in Holon on May 29, at 11 a.m.
A couple of weeks or so later (June 10), the Familie Flöz troupe from
Germany will return for a third appearance at the Israel Festival, this
time with a performance of Hotel Paradiso
as “a theatrical nightmare infused with dark humor and a dose of
melancholy.” The Familie Flöz actors wear masks and do not speak as they
go through their highly physical routine, preferring the visual to the
There is more non-verbal entertainment on offer at the Holon Mediatheque
on June 5 and 6, when the Fingers Theater of Georgia puts on its
show. As the name suggests, the Georgian
theater company “actors” are fingers which perform spectacular dance
pieces, normally clothed in flashy costumes.
The theater’s repertoire incorporates a range of dance styles, from
Georgian to Irish, hip hop to can-can – and even Michael Jackson-style
is a combination of
theater, dance and visual art designed to cover a wide emotional
spectrum, from sorrow to joy, and from compassion to irony.
Meanwhile, down the road toward Jerusalem, at Heichal Hatarbut in
Modi’in, there are some dance high jinks – not to mention high kicks –
to be enjoyed at the Nuevo Tango
show, courtesy of
the Tangokinesis company of Argentina.
Tangokinesis creates cross-genre artistic dynamics through the use of
traditional tango and modern dance, whereby the female dancers come from
a classical ballet background while the men are tango dancers. Nuevo Tango
is choreographed by Ana Maria Stekelman
and comprises four works that offer visual comedy, acrobatics and the
ever-present underlying sensuality of tango. The show takes place in
Modi’in on May 29, at 9 p.m.
Northern jazz fans can take advantage of the Andrzej Jagodzinski Trio’s
trip to Haifa, where the Polish band will perform at the Krieger Center
for the Performing Arts, on June 1 at 9 p.m. Chopin works are not only a
popular repertoire for classical pianists; they have also provided the
artistic bedrock for increasing numbers of Polish jazz acts in the last
20 or so years. Pianist Jagodzinski and his cohorts, bassist Adam
Cegielski and drummer Czeslaw “Maly” Bartkowski, will perform four
numbers written by Jagodzinski, inspired by Chopin creations.
More eclectic musical fare will be available at Modi’in’s Heichal
Hatarbut on May 26 at 8:30 p.m., when the world-renowned Grammy
Award-winner the King’s Singers a cappella sextet performs a diverse
program of songs ranging from material by 16th-century Franco-Flemish
composer Orlandis Lassus, to the late-19th-century song by English
composer Edward Elgar “O Happy Eyes,” closing with a titillating
nine-minute piece by contemporary English composer Paul Drayton bearing
the not inappropriate title of Masterpiece
There is more English repertoire at the Rappaport Hall in Haifa on May
26 at 8:30 p.m., and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art on May 27 (8:30 p.m.)
when an Israeli-British lineup of the Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra, the
New Vocal Ensemble and the Taverner Consort Soloists of London team up
to perform Henry Purcell’s King Arthur
. The concert
marks the 350th anniversary of Purcell’s birth, and Andrew Parrott will
direct proceedings from the conductor’s dais.
Possibly the most intriguing Israel Festival slot taking place outside
Jerusalem (at Holon Mediatheque on May 26, 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.), as
well as at the Jerusalem Theater (June 9, 7 p.m.), is a multimedia
performance of Prokofiev’s ever-popular Peter and the
by the Israeli Revolution Orchestra from Rishon Lezion.
The show is divided into two parts. The first half features the 30-piece
orchestra playing the Prokofiev work, with the alternative Oscar
Award-winning British animation film of the story screened as a
In the second half the ensemble plays a piece written by Rafi Kadishzon,
with narration by Ephraim Sidon – and added, surprising, entertainment
value and food for thought offered by actor Natan Datner, who plays a
lawyer defending the wolf. Without letting the cat, or the duck, out of
the bag, a word of caution to carnivores may be in order here.
Besides the artistic composition, there is philosophy behind the show
“When they say ‘a show for the whole family,’ they normally mean it’s
something for little kids up to the age of seven who drag their parents
along with them,” observes conductor Ro’i Oppenheim. “Peter and
is for children from the age of seven.”
Oppenheim says he wants to appeal to as broad an audience base as
possible, without commercializing the “product.”
“There are, for example, 40,000 students at the Hebrew University, and
very few of them go to classical concerts on campus, even if they are
free. We have to change the image of the orchestra,” he says.
That, Oppenheim continues, entails using quality material in a
thought-provoking setting. “The Revolution Orchestra is first and
foremost a creative ensemble. There are plenty of excellent orchestras
in Israel so there was no need to aim to add another. We commission work
from contemporary Israeli composers. It is very important to promote
that side of the arts here.”
Over the years, the orchestra has performed pieces by various young
Israeli composers, and integrated work by a developing generation of
animators from the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design.
“A work should provide the audience with an experience, and the music
should become an integral part of the Israeli environment,” Oppenheim
declares, adding that this approach informs the orchestra’s work ethic.
“In a way we operate like a rock group, and almost always work with our
own material. We also want to convey the idea that animation is not only
for kids, and classical music is not only for adults. I grew up on
Peter and the Wolf
, as well as Shalom Hanoch and The
Beatles, but today I don’t want to hear a child-oriented version.
Still, that approach does present its own logistical challenges.
“These productions are complicated and expensive, so we can’t go on tour
with them. This Peter and the Wolf
example, couldn’t have happened without the support of the Holon
Mediatheque. But I think the end result is well worth the effort.”