A Lost Yiddish Opera Returns to the Stage

Today, a Yiddish opera, long thought lost, is set to be performed at the Ashkenaz Festival in Toronto. P.J. Grisar tells its story:

When it premiered on May 24, 1924, at Warsaw’s Kaminsky Theatre, its composer, Henech Kon, had to accompany the performers on piano—and sing the bass part himself. It wasn’t quite the presentation he had in mind. But Kon would go on to bigger things, composing music for the classic Yiddish film The Dybbuk. His opera Bas Sheve (Bathsheba), about King David’s sinful affair with the titular wife of his general, would be one of many lost compositions, if one that had a certain prestige.

No one could say much about how the opera sounded until 2017, when the researcher Diana Matut learned that the Yale University Library bought a handwritten score of Bas Sheve at auction. After over 90 years, the Yiddish world now had access to Kon’s melodies and the words of his librettist and regular collaborator, the influential playwright, poet, and director Moyshe Broderzon.

Well, almost. Matut, a lecturer in Jewish studies at the University of Halle-Wittenberg in Germany, sent the manuscript to composer Joshua Horowitz to orchestrate it. . . . But Horowitz ran into an immediate problem—there were sixteen pages missing. And not just any pages, but the climax of the entire work.

Read more at Forward

More about: King David, Opera, Yiddish


What Is the Biden Administration Thinking?

In the aftermath of the rescue of four Israeli hostages on Friday, John Podhoretz observes some “clarifying moments.” The third strikes me as the most important:

Clarifying Moment #3 came with the news that the Biden administration is still calling for negotiations leading to a ceasefire after, by my count, the seventh rejection of the same by Hamas since Bibi Netanyahu’s secret offer a couple of weeks ago. Secretary of State Blinken, a man who cannot say no, including when someone suggests it would be smart for him to play high-school guitar while Ukraine burns, will be back in the region for the eighth time to urge Hamas to accept the deal. Why is this clarifying? Because it now suggests, here and for all time, that the Biden team is stupid.

Supposedly the carrot the [White House] is dangling in the region is a tripartite security deal with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Which would, of course, be a good thing. But like the stupid people they are now proving to be, they seem not to understand the very thing that led the Saudis to view Israel as a potential ally more than a decade ago: the idea that Israel means business and does what it must to survive and built itself a tech sector the Saudis want to learn from. Allowing Hamas to survive, which is implicitly part of the big American deal, will not lead to normalization. The Saudis do not want an Iranian vassal state in Palestine. Their entire foreign-policy purpose is to counter Iran. I know that. You know that. Everybody in the world knows that. Even Tony Blinken’s guitar is gently weeping at his dangling a carrot to Israel and Saudi Arabia that neither wants, needs, nor will accept.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Antony Blinken, Gaza War 2023, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship