Maestro magic

Mozart’s childhood opera travels over a few centuries and arrives at a swinging 60s club.

mozartconcert311 (photo credit: .)
(photo credit: .)
The Israeli Opera of Tel Aviv is performing Mozart’s opera Bastien and Bastienne, written by the precocious composer at the age of twelve. The performance is part of Magical Sounds with Nitza Shaul, a series of operas on the childhoods of the great composers, from Beethoven to Bach. The series is aimed at children, and mostly features young actors and singers.
Bastien and Bastienne is a love story about a shepherdess Bastienne who fears that her love Bastien has forsaken her for another. On the advice of village magician Colas, Bastienne turns a cold shoulder to her love in the hopes that it will bring him back to her. Nitza Shaul decided to change the setting from an old pastoral village to a modern seaside sports club. “Usually it’s about a shepherd and his girlfriend,” she said, “but this time we thought we would bring it forward to our time.”
The opera features singers, acrobats, and a string quartet. 17-year-olds Lihi Kornovsky and Shira Pachornick sing the parts of Bastien and Bastienne, respectively. The acrobats are in their twenties, and Shaul says “the only one who spoils the [young] atmosphere is me.” Shaul plays the originally male role of Colas the magician, which she converted to female for the performance.
Shaul’s Magical Sounds series is in its 13th season. “I write mostly about the childhood of the great composers,” she said. “About little Beethoven, Bach, and Hendel. I write full stories, combining music, dance, and beautiful costumes.” This time, she says “it’s not about Mozart’s childhood, it’s his actual opera.”
Speaking of the music itself, Shaul says “the song is breathtaking. We can hear all the Mozart elements to it. Genius simplicity. It’s so honest.”
Other performances this season told of the childhoods of composersBach, Mussorgsky, and Bartok. The season will end with The Legend ofthe Four Guys from Liverpool, about the Beatles.
Responding to why she left the classical ages to fast-forward to the60’s, Shaul quotes American composer Leonard Bernstein.“Bernstein oncesaid that the songs of the Beatles are on such a high level thatsometimes they can be compared to Schuman. They are considered some ofthe best musicians in the world. It’s a phenomenon. Their songs aretimeless, and they remind me of classical music. Even today, all agescan relate to the Beatles’s music.”

Mozart’s Bastien and Bastienne runsTuesday through Thursday at the Tel Aviv Opera House at 5 p.m. and 6:30p.m. NIS 85. For more info call (03) 692-7777 or