Dec. 9, 2014 8pm Malverne Community Presbyterian Church
(in memory of Robert Sullivan)
NY City premiere: Dec. 23, 2014 7pm Hebrew Union College-
Jewish Institute of Religion, Manhattan
(in memory of Shlomo Lahat)
co-sponsored by The After Dinner Opera Company
Click here to view a video of the production.
Click here for a short review by Mark Greenfest
of the US premiere with production photos.
Click here for a lengthier review by Dr. Jonathan Dzik
of the NY premiere with production photos.
CAST for the Dec. 2014 production:
Nikanor, the hegemon: Cantor Erik Contzius
Mattathias, the high priest: Cantor Raphael Frieder
--(cover: Cantor Moshe Bear)
Zipporah, Mattathias's wife:
--Cantor Fredda Mendelson/Cantor Janet Leuchter
Jonathan, their eldest son: Cantor Moshe Bear
--(cover: Michael Plant)
Judah, their second son: Jonathan Kline
Simon, their youngest son: Helene Williams
Hannah, their daughter: Cantor Meredith Greenberg
Eleazar, their nephew,
--betrothed to Hannah: Cantor David Katz
Dinah, their niece, Eleazar's sister
--betrothed to Jonathan: Cantor Galit Dadoun Cohen
The Metropolitan Philharmonic Chorus:
Sopranos: Audra Moricca, Nancy Zucker, Vanessa Bright
Altos: Sandra Fox, Amy Glass, Galina Leybovich
Tenors: Prof. Thomas Smith, Rabbi Joshua Minkin
Baritone: Michael Plant
Basses: David Aubrey, Charles Samuel Brown
with Organist Pedro D'Aquino
Violin Solo: Nathaniel S. Lehrman/Audra Moricca
Rehearsal Pianist: Joel Mandelbaum
Art Direction: Barbara D'Andrea; Lighting: Nic Christopher
Conducted from the piano by the composer
Click here for the production video promo
or here for the Indiegogo fundraising page,
and see also the Nov. 6, 2014 HUC-JIR press release,
the December 2014 article in Long Island Woman,
the Dec. 2, 2014 article by George Robinson in Jewish Week,
the Dec. 5, 2014 article by Micah Danney in The Valley Stream Herald,
and read Mark Greenfest's Dec. 20, 2014 review
--with current production photos in SoundWordSight.
3-act opera by Leonard Lehrman
on libretto by composer and Orel Odinov
based on Midrashic Chanukah legends
(87 sources, 24 books of the Bible
and the Apocrypha, including 36 psalms)
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 known to date back
to the 2nd century C.E.
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.
Click on "View Album," download,
and scroll down the document for the program and complete libretto.
Program cover (design concept: Karen Campbell)
from 1980 production--
Nikanor: John Porter
Mattathias: Hugh Egerton
Zipporah: Ruth Stotsenberg
Jonathan: Joseph Ilardo
Judah: Jack Garner
Simon: Joan Miller
Hannah: Julie Morgan
Eleazar: Charles Osborne*
Dinah: 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 convert to Judaism and become a cantor.
Watch his reminiscence here.
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.
In 2014 it was translated into, and performed in, Hebrew.
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 also
by Helene Williams & Halifax Summer Opera Workshop director
Nina Scott-Stoddart, July 28, 2012.
The Hannah-Zipporah Duet, also from Act I Scene 2,
was performed by Helene Williams & Susan Blake in May 2007
at Queens College and NYU, in memory of Morris Schappes.
Helene Williams sang Dinah's Lament at FAU Mar. 6, 2014.
Five excerpts were performed at the
Puffin Cultural Forum Mar. 30, 2014:
Baruch Haba (Wedding Fugue)
Additional excerpts were performed at the
Freeport Memorial Library, Sep. 7, 2014, including:
Mattathias' Law Aria
Mattathias' Monolog & Duet with Eleazar
Mattathias' Final Scene
The following singers have sung various roles in excerpts from the opera:
Kathryn Osborne, Yvonne Parks, Karen Smith, Sherry Zannoth,
--Helene Williams, Susan Blake, Faith Steinsnyder, Lauren Levy (Hannah)
Edward Swenson, Charles Osborne, Gregory Mercer,
--David Perper, Richard Newman, David Katz (Eleazar)
Paul Gibbons, Ronald Edwards, Raphael Frieder (Mattathias)
Jan Edwards, Kathryn Wieckhorst, Nina Scott-Stoddart,
--Helene Williams, Galit Dadoun Cohen (Dinah)
Carol Skinner, Helene Williams (Zipporah)
Peter Ludwig (Nikanor)
Sarah Bachman, Helene Williams (Simon)
Concerts of Jewish Opera, previewing Hannah, in 2014:
[Click on hypertexted links for video excerpts]
Mar. 6 Boca Raton, FL
Mar. 30 Teaneck, NJ
June 8 Mahwah, NJ [cancelled]
Sept. 7 Freeport Memorial Library, Freeport, NY
Sept. 23 Sid Jacobson Jewish Community Center, East Hills, NY
Oct. 26 Temple Israel, Great Neck, NY [cancelled]
Nov. 2 Bryant Library, Roslyn, NY postponed to Dec. 1
Nov. 9 Temple B'Nai Or, Morristown, NJ
Nov. 16 Jericho Jewish Center, Jericho, NY
Hannah, the daughter of the high priest, Mattathias,
is told she will have to spend her wedding night with
the local overlord, Nikanor, 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.
Nikanor 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 Nikanor
against the law of the first night.
But Nikanor 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 Nikanor is killed by Judah,
but Eleazar is stabbed and dies in Hannah's arms.
Hannah's prophecy is taken to heart by Simon.