'Alice in Holyland'

The all-time classic has been transformed into a Hebrew speaking, full scale opera.

alice311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The stage: a kitchen table. The backdrop: a sink, a counter, and a window with curtains.
That was Hila Fahima’s first performance. To some it may have merely been a kitchen, but to Fahima it was Wonderland. This week, in the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center, Fahima will appear on a grander stage, performing as Alice, in Alice in Wonderland, orchestrated by David Sebba.
Fahima’s original passion was singing. Starting when she was eight years old she sang in a choir, as a soprano. Over time she has gone on to more distinguished roles such as singing with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra. Now, at the age of 25, she has followed her heart to a bigger, more dramatic, stage.
“Opera is always an exciting challenge. You get to combine singing, dancing, acting, and theatrical musicality, into one show. The energy brings you alive,” said Fahima.
Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll, is an all-time classic that has sent many through a whirlwind of fantasy. Growing up, Fahima was no exception. In preparation for her role, she has traveled back in time to her childhood’s “Kitchen Wonderland” and has translated her dreams into her present role as Alice. Like Alice, Fahima looks at the world around her and chooses to create a world within, with an array of engaging creatures and enchanting scenery.
One would be presumptuous in saying that it would be difficult to capture Alice’s enthralling imagination in Hebrew. Although it is no secret that many of the most dynamic and endearing aspects of Alice and Wonderland could easily be lost in translation, Fahima suggests otherwise. Not only has the commonality between Alice’s imagination and Fahima’s allowed her to transform into the character of Alice with ease, but she is convinced that Alice’s uncontrollable curiosity shines through the opera as she succumbs to every adventure her desires lead her on.
Operas are generally performed in their original language. The strength of the emotion lures the audience, captivating them, and allowing the onlookers to connect to the characters. By orchestrating the Alice in Wonderland opera in Hebrew, Sebba has created a level of comfort that would have been unreachable had the script remained in English.
Fahima explains that performing this roll she feels as though it is an energetic conversation between friends, rather than an elusive script.
The cast feels as though the scenery and the costumes in the production have set the scene for a vivid dream, allowing them to easily shift into character, hopefully bringing the audience into the enchanting world Alice has created for herself. “I want everyone to love the show and to find a way to relate to the show. I want everyone to remember the importance of dreams, and to realize that a life without dreams is a life full of boredom,” says Fahima.
Alice in Wonderland runs through Wednesday at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center, with an additional show in Jerusalem August 22. For more info visit www.israel-opera.co.il