A Lost Yiddish Opera Returns to the Stage

Aug. 31 2022

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.

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Read more at Forward

More about: King David, Opera, Yiddish

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship