Grapevine: Playing from the heart

Has anyone ever wondered why there is no opera house in Israel’s capital?

The Great Synagogue (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons/ Ariel Horowitz )
The Great Synagogue
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons/ Ariel Horowitz )
INTERNATIONALLY ACCLAIMED violinist Lior Kaminetsky, a seventh-generation Jerusalemite and the youngest of the four sons of the late Ofra and cantor Jacob Kaminetsky, has been living in Los Angeles for several years, performing all over America and beyond. In addition to his live performances on stage, he has also appeared in films, on television and on radio. Judaism and music have always played important roles in his life. Much of the music he composes is based on specific Jewish experiences in his life.
He has sung in the choir of the Jerusalem Great Synagogue and has served as a High Holy Day cantor in congregations around the world.
To honor his father’s memory, Kaminetsky put together a special concert called Nigunim Mibeit Aba (tunes from my father’s house), which he had previously performed abroad but last Saturday night performed in his native Jerusalem at the Yehuda Halevi Synagogue. It was the first time he had given this particular concert in Jerusalem.
■ WHILE ON the subject of music, has anyone ever wondered why there is no opera house in Israel’s capital? It’s another one of those chicken-and-egg stories. Does one form an opera company and then build an opera house or does one build an opera house and then form the opera company?
A group of opera buffs and performing artists have pooled their resources to introduce the Jerusalem Opera Season, which will be launched in June with a production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. But before that, on March 18, there will be a gala evening to introduce the artists to opera lovers by way of a concert featuring some of the most popular arias, plus a few musical surprises.
The aim of the nascent opera company is to have three productions a year, with a repertoire of works by Mozart, Rossini, Donizetti, Verdi, Puccini, Gounod, Massenet, Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich and various Jewish composers from which to choose.
The dream of Andre Hajdu, Julia Pevzner, Manon and Joe Weizman, Jonatan Dror and Omer Arieli, who are the initiators of the project, is to eventually build an impressive opera house equipped with spacious foyer, stage and orchestra pit, artists’ dressing rooms, rehearsal rooms, wardrobe, props and scenery workshops et al.
Perhaps there’s an opera-loving philanthropist out there who was not even aware that Jerusalem lacks an opera house and is willing to remedy the lacuna. If so, there are more than a dozen classically trained singers who have already signed up, not to mention the numerous opera singers who were trained in the former Soviet Union. There’s a treasure trove of talent. It just needs a permanent home.
■ SHAKESPEARE LOVERS should circle next Friday on their calendars and prepare to converge on the Konrad Adenauer Center at Mishkenot Sha’ananim, where British actor David Weston will be appearing under the auspices of the Friends of the Hebrew University. Weston, an expert on the bard, will present Shakespeare’s life story, discuss his works and perform excerpts from his plays. Proceeds will go towards scholarships for Hebrew University Theater Studies students.
■ OF ALL former ambassadors who return to Israel for various reasons, the most frequent visitor is arguably former US ambassador Martin Indyk, who is currently vice president of the Brookings Institution. Indyk was in Jerusalem this week to discuss “US Strategy for a Region in Turmoil” at the Hebrew University’s Third Annual Conference on The Middle East in Transition.
Speakers explored such issues as the Arab Spring, the renewal of the struggle with Syria, Turkish foreign policy, internal Palestinian politics and the rise of Islamist movements. The conference was hosted by the Hebrew University’s Harry S Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace and the Institute for Asian and African Studies.
In addition to Israeli universities, participants also came from Al-Quds University, the Gaza Institute for Political and Strategic Studies, Istanbul University and the Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies.