Hitting the high notes

With orchestras on summer break, music lovers can turn to the annual International Opera Workshop at the newly renovated Israeli Music Conservatory in Tel Aviv.

Opera coach Joann Dornemann with participant 370 (photo credit: Ariel Besor)
Opera coach Joann Dornemann with participant 370
(photo credit: Ariel Besor)
It’s been 26 years since the inimitable Joan Dornemann persuaded then-Tel Aviv mayor Shlomo Lahat that what Israel needed was an international opera workshop.
Lahat, to his eternal credit, agreed enthusiastically. Since then the International Opera Workshop has gone from strength to strength and is eagerly awaited by its many fans.
This year is no exception. Some 80 Israeli and international aspiring young opera professionals come together from July 2-26 for three intensive weeks of coaching, master classes, rehearsal and performance under Dornemann, herself a vocal coach at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, and her team of equally illustrious professionals.
This year world-renowned baritone Thomas Hampson (here as a guest of the Israel Philharmonic) will be giving a master class, only one, at the Tel Aviv Museum on July 13.
Others giving master classes are pianist/vocal coaches Claude Webster and Bradley Moore, diction coach Hemdi Kfir, director Lawrence Edelson and not least that great lady and great mezzo-soprano Mignon Dunn. Dunn, now 81, has been with IOW from the very first.
But IOW is also about performance, whether recitals or complete operas, staged on a shoestring, but usually fantastic none the less.
The performances start with a free concert at Jaffa’s Gan Hapisga (July 14) and end with a gala at the Tel Aviv Opera House (July 26). In between the concerts include Mozart operas (July 16), Bel Canto (beautiful singing) and the 19th-century (July 18) and summer Opera at the Tzora Winery (July 19), that’s become a tradition and includes dinner and wine tasting.
Dornemann chooses the operas with the singers’ voices in mind. This year’s batch: Claude Debussy’s one-act The Prodigal Son (July 20), R. Strauss’ Die Fledermaus (July 21 and 23), Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin (July 22 and 25) and Poulenc’s Carmelite Dialogues (July 24).
This year’s IOW will be held at the newly completed Ted And Lynn Arison Israel Music Conservatory in Tel Aviv.