HannahU.S. premiere scheduled:
Dec. 9, 2014 Malverne Community Presbyterian Church
Dec. 23, 2014 Hebrew Union College-
Jewish Institute of Religion, Manhattan
three-act opera by Leonard Lehrman
on libretto by composer and Orel Odinov
based on Talmudic Chanukah legends
dedicated to Xenia Odinov Protopopescu
premiered in concert May, 1980
at the American Roadside Theatre,
co-sponsored by the Seventh Army Soldiers Chorus,
Heidelberg Music and Theatre,
the German-American Institute,
the Society for Christian-Jewish Cooperation,
the Student Association of the University of Heidelberg;
and the Jewish Community of Heidelberg;
the product of extensive research,
the work was written up in a lengthy
article in Jewish Currents, April 1981;
the authenticity of the central legend
on which the opera is based
is disputed, but believed to date back
at least to the time of Rashi;
The entire opera was broadcast by WBAI-FM, Dec. 25, 1989
and is now available on CD, as well as posted
at the Florida Atlantic University Judaica Sound Archives.
Click here to hear the entire recording, track by track.
Program cover (design concept: Karen Campbell)
from 1980 production--
Nicanor, the hegemon: John Porter
Mattathias, the high priest: Hugh Egerton
Zipporah, Mattathias' wife: Ruth Stotsenberg
Jonathan, their eldest song: Joseph Ilardo
Judah, their second son: Jack Garner
Simon, their youngest son: Joan Miller
Hannah, their daughter: Julie Morgan
Eleazar, their nephew,
--betrothed to Hannah: Charles Osborne*
Dinah, their niece, Eleazar's sister,
--betrothed to Jonathan: Elizabeth Kimery
Bridesmaids: Kay Lovins, Linnie Garner-Mower,
--Mary McConnell, Ruth Weiershaeuser
Chorus: Kay Lovins, Biola Muniz,
--Ingrid Eppelsheimer, Ruth Weiershauser,
--Mark Hawley, Jerry Ahern,
--Russ McConnell (Director, 33rd Army Band)
Accompanist: Elaine Stelter
Conducted by the Composer
*This was Charles Osborne's European debut,
and the last work he sang before deciding
to become Jewish and a cantor.
The 1980 production poster by Dorothee Brown
was brought to Tel Aviv by the composer, Oct. 1984
and shared with his cousin, Mayor Cheech Lahat:
The Act I chorus, "May the Words," has been elaborated on
and incorporated into Lehrman's Friday Evening Service (1996).
The Act II Wedding Fugue,
"Blessed Be He That Cometh in the Name of the Lord,"
has been performed on various occasions, including weddings,
ecumenical Thanksgiving services, and Palm Sunday.
The Mattathias-Eleazar Duet from Act II Scene 1 was performed at
the Gala Opening Concert of the Juedischer Musiktheaterverein Berlin
April 30, 1984 by David Bloch and Klaus Neumcke.
The Consolation Duet and the Love Duet from Act I Scene 2
have been performed on numerous duet concerts,
the former most recently at the
Halifax Summer Opera Workshop, July 28, 2012.
The Hannah-Zipporah Duet, also from Act I Scene 2,
was performed by Helene Williams & Susan Blake
at Queens College and NYU, in memory of Morris Schappes.
CAST planned for the Dec. 2014 production:
Nicanor: Cantor Erik Contzius
Mattathias: Cantor Raphael Frieder
Zipporah: Cantor Fredda Mendelson
Jonathan: Cantor Moshe Bear
Judah: Cantor Barry Black
Simon: Helene Williams
Hannah: Cantor Faith Steinsnyder
Eleazar: Cantor David Perper
Dinah: Cantor Galit Dadoun Cohen
The Metropolitan Philharmonic Chorus
Conducted by the Composer
Concerts of Jewish Opera, previewing Hannah,
are planned for 8 cities in 2014:
Mar. 6 Boca Raton, FL
Mar. 30 Teaneck, NJ
June 8 Mahwah, NJ
Sept. 7 Freeport, NY
Oct. 26 Great Neck, NY
Nov. 2 Roslyn, NY
Nov. 8 Morristown, NJ
Nov. 16 Jericho. NY
Hannah, the daughter of the high priest, Mattathias,
is told she will have to spend her wedding night with
the local overlord, Nicanor, as per the local custom.
In protest against this, at her wedding ceremony,
she tears off all her clothes. This shames her father
and her brothers into taking action
against the oppressive regime.
Nicanor is killed, but so is Hannah's beloved Eleazar.
In the final scene, Hannah prophesies that
her youngest brother Simon will be the sole survivor
of the Civil War she has unintentionally ignited.
He promises to remember her,
"by lighting the earth with candles."
In the opening Prologue, Dinah
(Eleazar's sister and Hannah's cousin)
is raped by soliders in the synagogue.
Rather than prosecute them,
Mattathias puts Dinah on trial
for allegedly provoking them.
Hannah tries to console her.
In a love duet, Eleazar persuades Hannah
to elope with him.
Mattathias (with his wife Zipporah)
catches them in the act,
and decrees they must marry the next day.
At the wedding, as Judah (behind her, to her left)
and others look on, Hannah wears a purple shawl
that comes rippling down her as she disrobes.
Eleazar stops the men from killing her,
and her speech persuades them
that they must protest to Nicanor
against the law of the first night.
But Nicanor makes fun of them,
quoting erotic Greek poetry,
insisting that Mattathias bow down
to a statue of Zeus.
Mattathias's refusal results in a battle
in which Nicanor is killed by Judah,
but Eleazar is stabbed and dies in Hannah's arms.
Hannah's prophecy is taken to heart by Simon.