Honing their skills

The annual Opera Workshop gets under way in Tel Aviv.

June 30, 2016 11:13
4 minute read.
The annual Opera Workshop

Steven Goldstein. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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During the hot days of July, when orchestras and theaters are on their summer vacation or touring the world, the Summer Opera Program of the Israel Vocal Art Institute (IVAI) offers a unique opportunity to enjoy art in an air-conditioned space.

This year, the Opera Workshop (aka Sadna) is taking place at the Israeli Music Conservatory in Tel Aviv from July 4 to 29. The course, which was created and for many years managed by the legendary Metropolitan Opera coach Joan Dorneman, is now headed by her longtime associate John Norris, a teacher and internationally acclaimed opera/theater director. The workshop hosts dozens of aspiring young vocalists from all over the world, who will hone their skills under the guidance of experienced artists, directors and vocal coaches. Most of the daily activities, such as master classes, opera productions accompanied by piano, as well as the concerts, are open to the public at affordable prices. The program features master classes by such accomplished professionals as John Norris; pianist and opera coach Claude Webster; opera singer and actor Steven Goldstein; Israeli soprano Chen Reiss; and renowned Russian soprano Ljuba Kazarnovskaya.

The workshop offers a children’s project – an interactive concert that will be repeated three times during the course; various concerts of early opera arias and scenes; a concert competition, where the audience will choose the winner; a Mozart evening; and a concert of Hollywood hits. The closing gala concert will be accompanied by the Netanya Kibbutz Chamber Orchestra.

The list of opera productions sounds quite intriguing because of the top-quality music material and the names of the stage directors, who will help the young artists create the shows: Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, staged by Russian-born Israeli opera director Inga Levant; Verdi’s La Traviata, staged by multi-talented Steven Goldstein; and Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, produced by Edwin Cahill.

American opera singer/actor/ teacher Steven Goldstein came to Tel Aviv as an opera workshop student and later as an Israeli Opera soloist, but this will be his first time here as a teacher.

Goldsten has numerous roles to his credit. His filmography includes The Spanish Prisoner, Homicide, Things Change and The Untouchables. He has performed on stage, in musicals and in classical and contemporary operas.

He began his career as a stage actor, studying theater at New York University.

“For me, this is an important experience and I’m moved to come back to Tel Aviv as a teacher,” says Goldstein in a phone interview from his New York home.

Does he think that opera is a little outdated as an art form?

“Well, we have plays written long before many operas, like those by Shakespeare, which are still running, so it is not the age of the piece that counts. I have many favorite operas, but The Marriage of Figaro is number one. It is always perfect. You have everything there – a fading love and a lot of humor. Things like that always speak to the audience. You can find it in modern movies, too, so it is not about the libretto. Granted, we have to respect the traditions of the operatic genres but also to break forward a bit. For example, there are quite a few little opera companies in the US and throughout the world that perform opera productions in not-so-usual places,” he says.

Goldstein stresses, “Acting is important, but above all we have to make it true and honest so that the things that happen in front of the audience will become vital and important.”

Goldstein teaches acting for opera students at the New England School of Music in Boston. He is coming to the Tel Aviv workshop for a brief period of time, so what are the essential ideas he wants to convey to his students?

“I am going to tell them that we are performers. We are always telling the truth. We’re not lying, we’re not faking, not making believe. And the truth is a moment. Even if the truth is big and is sung, like in an opera, it has to be honest. And when it is, the art form is alive for the audience. Because the trick is that life is chaotic, while stage – theater and even more so opera – is very ordered. You are singing along with an orchestra, and it is a very ordered universe. But if it looks ordered, it will not be real. So it has to have a touch of chaos in it. This doesn’t mean that as an actor you have to be chaotic but rather to be available to many changes that are not ordered in it and that make it feel true,” he says.

For a detailed program of the workshop, go to www.ivai.org.il. For reservations: *9066 or www.eventim.co.il.

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