Entries tagged with “Tel Aviv”.

Un ballo in Maschera has a very convoluted history. Created in the years that preceded the unification and independence of Italy, the opera was originally written as a regicide plot based on the historical facts of the assassination of king Gustav III of Sweden in the 17th century. The very fact that a king was supposed to be assassinated on stage made the opera unpalatable for the censorship in Austrian-occupied Venezia, in the Bourbon kingdom of Napoli and in the church-dominated Rome. Three re-writings later the opera eventually premiered in 1858 on the very eve of the revolutionary movements that led to the creation of Italy, but it was now a completely different story. The historical drama with revolutionary hints turned into a passionate and tragic love triangle story with the national elements eliminated and the political allusions very deeply buried in the subtext. Polish director Micha Znaniecki tried in the production now staged at the New Israeli Opera in Tel Aviv to recover the political dimensions and I have mixed feelings about the result.


source http://www.israel-opera.co.il/Eng/

source http://www.israel-opera.co.il/Eng/


The cast at the current Israeli production has basically two teams, and I was lucky enough to be present at the first performance of the ‘Romanian cast’. All three lead roles were sung by singers from Romania. Baritone Ionut Pascu already sang in Tel Aviv, he may not have impressive natural skills but his voice is expressive and carefully dosed and he was a fine Renato. Soprano Mirela Gradinaru was also a guest and lead singer on the Tel Aviv stage before and on this occasion she succeeded a more than honorable version of Ammelia. Best of all was however tenor Cristian Mogosan who faced with bravery and success the role of Riccardo which was mastered in the past by names as great as Domingo or Pavarotti. He was without any doubt the star of the evening. Shiri Hershkovitz also had a remarkable and creative performance as Oscar the page. She is born in Israel, but her name may also be of Romanian origin :-)


(video source IsraeliOpera)


These were the good news. The very bad news was the orchestra, and I need to mention Italian conductor Daniele Calegari who ‘succeeded’ to get the worst of an orchestra which I confess did not earn too much respect from me in the last 20 plus years since I have to follow it. When it was not stridently loud it hardly could be heard. The overture was one of the less inspired opening pieces I heard lately. The musicians seemed bored after the first three accords.

The staging was controversial at best in my opinion. Yes, I know the history of the opera but there is too little political content in the text and especially in the music to justify the explicit statements made by the staging. Big statues of dictators seem to be the fashion of the year or of the years on opera stages in Europe, but the disconnect between the music and what happened on stage was huge. Yes, decors were (again) spectacular, and the costumes were inspired as well (the team that created those is Polish). Opera is however – at least in my opinion – first of all about music, not about staging. Not even the Romanian team of singers obliged to perform in such unsettling environment could save the evening.




Bringing to Israel the international Word Press journalistic photography winners and joining in the same exhibition the Israeli Local Testimony collection has become a tradition, and so is my visiting the show at the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv. I could not miss the 2013 edition.




Selected from over 100,00 entries submitted most of them during 2012, the World Press 2013 edition choices seemed to me less impressive than in the previous years. While in each of the other editions there were a few photographs that I remember well until today, the current one did not offer too many works that I will remember visually next year. The overall mood was also quite somber. Many of photos in the events-related categories were connected to the situation in the Middle East, and with the fading of the hopes of the ‘Arab spring’ and the civil conflicts and extreme Islam offensive that took over the area, they let room to some horrific images. But even out of the area, photojournalism of the year 2013 contained little reasons of optimism.




The ‘Local Testimony’ section occupied this year almost equal area in the interior of the exhibition space. As in the previous years the quality and intensity of the works were in some cases equal to these in the international section. The Israeli section also celebrated ten years since its first occurrence, and this is a good opportunity to see in the show a few of the best photos exposed during the decade.


source http://blog.ecla.de/world-press-photo-13-the-story-behind-an-image-revie/

source http://blog.ecla.de/world-press-photo-13-the-story-behind-an-image-revie/


The big prize of World Press 13 was awarded to a dramatic shot taken in Gaza by the Swede Paul Hansen showing the funeral of two children killed in the military actions of Israel aimed to stop the bombing in the south of Israel. Politics put aside it’s a great photo showing the horrors of war and the price inflected on innocent victims in a year which has seen too many innocent civilian victims all over the Earth.


source source blog.chasejarvis.com

source source blog.chasejarvis.com

The work that impressed me most esthetically belongs actually to the sport photos section. It is taken by Wei Seng Chen and shows the finish of a bull race in Sumatra.


source http://www.eretzmuseum.org.il/e/297/

source http://www.eretzmuseum.org.il/e/297/


With the Middle East in the center of the news and of the photojournalists some of the entries in the Israeli section seem to be a direct continuation of the works in the international section. Such is the photo taken by Ammar Younis during the protest of the Bedouins against the intentions of the government to relocate them, a move they perceive like endangering their way of life.


source http://www.eretzmuseum.org.il/e/297/

source http://www.eretzmuseum.org.il/e/297/


Yohann Dobensky took a picture in the more intimate environment of an ultra-orthodox family in pilgrimage at the tombs of the great rabbis in Ukraine. The innocent game of a kid playing with a plastic gun tells a lot about the obsession of the Israeli society, even of its less militaristic circles with weapons.

Even if the awards selection falls behind the one on the previous years, World Press 13 and Local Testimony is a show to visit. More information on the Web site of the museum http://www.eretzmuseum.org.il/e/297/ and on the site of the World Press organization (including images and descriptions of the awarded works) – http://www.worldpressphoto.org/.


ICR Tel Aviv a organizat in aceasta dimineata un eveniment care i-a avut ca invitati pe scriitorii Carmen Firan si Adrian Sangeorzan care traiesc la New York, ocazie pentru publicul israelian de a-i cunoaste pe cei doi scriitori si de a asista la o dezbatere (la ‘masa rotunda’ – desi masa nu era chiar rotunda) a carei tema a fost definita ca ‘Eterna Calatorie si dilemele identitare. Despre nelinistea si provocarile drumului’. Celor doi invitati de peste ocean li s-a alaturat Vlad Solomon ca reprezentant ‘local’, iar dezbaterea a fost moderata de Marlena Braester.

Titlul evenimentului era incitant si la fel tema care a fost si va fi subiect a numeroase dezbateri intre cei care ne-am schimbat la un moment dat in viata (unii de mai multe ori) locul de trai si am reinceput vietile pe alte meleaguri, printre alti oameni si in spatii culturale si politice noi, ceea ce ne-a determinat pe multi dintre noi sa reflectam la ceea ce am fost si am devenit, la modul in care schimbarea de tara ne schimba si ne redefineste personalitatile si identitatile. Sunt intrebari pe care si le pun desigur in mod acut artistii si mai ales scriitorii pentru care limba este materia primordiala de exprimare, dar si le pun in general cred eu toti sau majoritatea intelectualilor si a tuturor celor care au trait asemenea schimbari.




Dupa introducerile de rigoare cei doi invitati au citit din cartile lor scrise in limba romana. Marturisesc ca citisem foarte putine din poeziile lui Carmen Firan si am ramas impresionat. Este o voce poetica clara, distincta, sensibila, expresiva – iar textele alese de dansa si de moderatoare au fost foarte potrivite temelor. Si proza citita de Adrian Sangeorzan a fost bine selectata si mi s-a parut a reflecta o parte din temele carora le era dedicat evenimentul, dar din opera unui prozator trebuie citit ceva mai mult decat incape in cateva minute pentru a-ti forma o parere articulata. Ocazia de a-i cunoaste pe cei doi scriitori si scrisele lor a fost pentru mine binevenita, banuiesc ca si pentru altii.

Si acum despre ‘masa rotunda’. Nu a fost exact o dezbatere, si cred ca sunt mai multe motive. Unul si poate cel esential este ca intre dilemele identitare ale intelectualului roman care se stabileste in Statele Unite sau in alt loc in Occident si cele ale intelectualului evreu nascut in Romania care se stabileste in Israel sunt foarte mari diferente pe care ori le pui pe masa si le discuti deschis si fara teama de a evita controversele, ori nu le discuti. Poti trece o prapastie daca arunci peste ea o punte, dar nu ignorand-o. Participantii la evenimentul de astazi se cunosc bine si in atmosfera cordiala si politicoasa a salii de la ICR Tel Aviv nu au dorit sa deschida o discutie care risca cu usurinta sa fie abrupta si dureroasa. Singurul moment in care diferentele au fost clar expuse a fost cel in care Vlad Solomon a citit un fragment din ciclul sau de articole ‘Cum am devenit jidan’ care a pozitionat clar problema identitatii israelianului nascut in Romania cu totul in alta parte decat in spatiul problemelor oaspetilor americani. Discutia despre aceste diferente insa, nu a urmat.




Am apreciat in cele spuse de toti vorbitorii excluderea cliseelor. Nu s-au pronuntat decat poate accidental cuvintele ‘dezradacinare’, ‘exil’, ‘patrie’, ‘acasa’, si termenul de ‘diaspora’ a fost marginalizat explicit din start. Scriitorii americani au prezentat cu sinceritate si argumente pozitia si simtamintele lor fata de problema identitara, asocierea si atasamentul fata de cultura, literatura, si spatiul lingvistic romanesc ca si obstacolele si contradictiile intalnite in drumurile lor, inclusiv confruntari cu mentalitati si abordari culturale foarte diferite de cele in care majoritatea dintre noi ne-am nascut si format. Aici am gasit multe similaritati in sentimente si problematica ceea ce nu inseamna ca am fost neaparat de acord cu toate afirmatiile facute. Mi s-a parut de exemplu exagerata afirmatia facuta de Carmen Firan despre posibilitatea sau necesitatea salvarii limbii romane de la vulgarizare de catre scriitorii care traiesc in afara granitelor Romaniei. Parerea mea este ca au existat intotdeauna diferente intre limba romana literara si cea vorbita pe strada (in sensul larg al cuvantului ‘strada’) iar limba romana literara nu are nevoie astazi de nicio ‘salvgardare’ din afara – ea evolueaza frumos si solid si o dovedesc sutele de carti de literatura buna publicate anual in Romania, si publicistica din revistele culturale si literare din tara.

A fost lasat timp pentru intrebari din public si eventuale discutii suplimentare, dar acesta nu a fost folosit decat de catre regizorul si directorul de teatru Nico Nitai pentru a multumi participantilor pentru continut si pentru frumoasa limba in care s-a desfasurat evenimentul. Sunt aprecieri si multumiri la care nu pot sa nu ma alatur. La fel nu pot decat sa sper ca filiala din Tel Aviv a ICR va continua cu astfel de initiative, si ca ele vor atrage si un public mai numeros si vor genera si mai multa dezbatere si participare de partea celor din cealalta parte a mesei (rotunde sau nu). Daca tot am vorbit despre identitate si s-a mentionat in discutie (tot de catre oaspetii americani) transmiterea componentei culturale si lingvistice romanesti a identitatii catre generatia urmatoare, cred ca asemenea evenimente nu vor putea fi considerate ca succese pana cand nu va fi prezent si activ in sala public care nu apartine numai primei generatii de emigranti (a noastra) – adica pana cand nu vor fi prezenti si activi aici si cei din generatia copiilor nostri si prietenii lor ‘ne-romani’.

Bass usually takes a back seat in jazz performances. Starting with the location on the stage, where the bass is relegated to the back of the stage (maybe no to dwarf the other instruments some will say) and especially in sounds where the it provides tonal counterpoint and rhythmic support. However in a typical jazz concert the bassists have at best a few solos. Not when Avishai Cohen and one of his bands is on stage! One of the things that is different is that with Cohen the bass dominates the show, is in the center and directing everything else that happens from a musical point of view, not to speak of Cohen’s own personality. Now, after having followed the show last night at the Zappa Club in Tel Aviv I need to get back to his older recordings with musicians like Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Bobby McFerrin, Roy Hargrove to see and hear again how he performed when he was part of the band or supporting other musicians.




The band last night at Zappa was not his usual trio (or the one he was performing with all over the world during the last year. Pianist Nitai Hershkowitz is the latest revelation of Cohen, and he is excellent – warm, articulated, with a rich sound and perfect understanding of Cohen’s musical soul. I was less impressed by the guest drummer, the Spanish Jorge Rossi – he is OK but not at the level of Cohen and Hershkowitz, but his presence was fine for the last ‘Spanish/South-American’ part of the show. Cohen himself was impressive, he is at the pick of his strength and maturity, he covers the whole stage and makes the audience vibrate despite of the fact that his music is almost at no moment ‘easy’, he relates to his instrument as to a peer with whom he dances and makes love to, and gets some of the best possible sounds.


(video source Avishai Cohen Music)


I found on the Internet a full concert of Cohen with his (original) trio from 2012, with many lines of similarity in duration and music with what he did last night in Tel Aviv. His music is complex and sophisticated, piano and bass have almost equal parts, and most of the compositions inspired (also) from the Jewish ethos and Bible characters have personality and dramatic power. If he is around your place (he will be in Romania later this spring for example) do not miss him!


The Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center (or the Opera House as it is popularly known) has a very solid dance program each season which brings every year to Tel Aviv most of the best ballet and modern dance companies world-wide. We used to be subscribed for a few years to the series, but the lack of time pressed us into giving up and attending only occasionally the ballet performances here or in other places in Israel. This time we changed the tickets to a cancelled opera performance for what was probably one of the picks of the ballet (actually modern dance) season this year.


source http://www.costanorte.com.br/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/12foto02.jpg


Deborah Colker was born in Brazil in 1960, she started her own company named now Companhia de Dança Deborah Colker in 1993. The style she developed is based on the celebration of the human body and on the artistic and acrobatic skills of her dancers. Some of the more recent performances show more sophistication in combining music, dance and stage accessories that amplify and enhance the efforts of the dancers. It’s no coincidence if the style reminds Cirque du Soleil, as Deborah created one of the most recent performance of that company.


(video source Cia Deborah Colker)


The program brought to the Israeli audiences is named Mix and brings together parts of the two first shows of the company created in 1994-1995. Six different pieces with a duration of around 10 minutes each deal with the relations between the human body and the environment, between men and machines, and between couples. The most daring piece and the one that will be remembered by all audiences who have seen the show is is the final one, which is danced on a vertical plane, creating a very special experience for dancers and viewers and challenging the sportive skills of the dancers. I have seen the idea perfected in the Cirque du Soleil’s ‘K’ show one decade after this program was created, and it seems that Deborah Colker really pioneered an idea that is still striking and daring even today.

The dancers gave last night a fantastic show, and even if the acrobatic thrills in some places seemed to prevail over the artistic emotions there can be no doubt about their dedication to the art they are making, and about their passion (and the evident pleasure of the leader of the company who showed up on stage at the end to thank the audiences) to dance and to be here. A great evening of modern dance.

The first evening in the Hot Jazz series at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art this year that I am attending (it was actually the second one, but I missed the first because of my professional trip in November) provided a revelation in meeting one of the best saxophonists today – Joel Frahm. This is not his first visit to Israel, he seems to have been here a few times, and enjoy it. And yes – I and the audiences here enjoy listening to him and to his music.


source http://www.nepr.net/blog/joel-frahm-storytelling-tenor


A classmate of Bred Mehldau at at Hall High School Wisconsin-born Frahm is a powerful gifted blower, who turns his capacity into the talent of creating a sound which is strong in volume, velvety in texture and complex in structure. He can take themes from standards and combine them into a story that becomes his owns and he drives the musicians playing with him, encourages them, appreciates them. He seems to feel equally at ease in swing and in blues. Watching him play is an experience not only because of his sound but also because of his attitude which one feels is full of respect and empathy for the musicians he is playing with and especially with his audiences.


(video source CultureBuzzIsrael)


Here is an interview he gave in Israel last week at the occasion of the visit. He speaks not only about the tour but also about the other Israeli music he met and worked with.


(video source dlhau)


Above is an excerpt of his music, but not from the last Friday concert. The show in Tel Aviv appropriately started with a tribute and dedication to Dave Bruebeck and continued with a lot of the music composed and inspired by Sonny Rollins.  The partner to Frahm for the tour was Israeli saxophonist Amit Friedman, a personality of his own about whom I plan to research, listen and maybe write more in the future. I have already noticed and mentioned bass player Gilad Abro and he did not disappointed me. I was not enthusiastic about pianist Hod Moshonov, neither did Shay Zelman break his routine.

Joel Frahm’s Web site is available here.

This is maybe one of the most unusual texts about a theater performance that I have ever written. It is not only about Shakespeare’s masterpiece, not only about the staging (and I have great references to compare with, starting with Laurence Olivier’s 1955 version in film or the classical staging in the 60s with the Romanian actor George Vraca on stage), but also about the atmosphere of the performance. The play is now staged at the Cameri Theater in Tel Aviv, together with Richard II which I wrote about a few weeks ago. Both kings are played by the same actor, Itay Tiran, the uncontested star of the younger generation of Israeli theater actors and both performances are directed by Arthur Kogan. 


source http://www.calcalist.co.il/consumer/articles/0,7340,L-3575873,00.html


The performance today in Tel Aviv had two parts of classical Shakespearean theater and one surrealistic interlude. Seconds after the first part ended with the crowning of king Richard one of the actors returned to stage and announced ‘Do not go to any other place, stay here, this is the safest place’. The Hebrew word he used has a double meaning of defended place and bomb shelter. Many of the spectators laughed at the joke, but some other opened their smartphones to learn that we were experiencing the second rocket attack alarm on Tel Aviv from Gaza in the last 24 hours. That hall of the Golda complex, two levels under the ground is really also the bomb shelter for the whole theater, the sound of the alarm sirens does not get there, but the theater staff is trained to direct people to that hall in case of an alarm. At the end of the break we were told that in case of another alarm the performance will be interrupted, and the people with seats in the balconies are asked to descend to the safer stalls level.


(video source cameritv)


There was no second alarm, and the second part as the whole performance was one of the best I have seen in the last few years on the scene of an Israeli theater. It’s much better than the pairing Richard II performance which I saw first, it’s a colorful and complex staging, with well drawn characters, which makes a good service to the Shakespearean text (well translated into Hebrew) and brings to life the bloody drama of power and human vice, of glory and moral decay. Itay Tiran is at his best, but so are also Eli Gorenstein (Sir James Tyrell as a professional killer and a lover of classical and opera music descended from Kubrick), Ruti Asersai, Elena Yaralova, Dudu Niv.

The play ends with the monologue of the Earl of Richmond which is to become Henri VII and start the dynasty of the Tudors:

Enrich the time to come with smooth-faced peace,
With smiling plenty and fair prosperous days!
Abate the edge of traitors, gracious Lord,
That would reduce these bloody days again,
And make poor England weep in streams of blood!
Let them not live to taste this land’s increase
That would with treason wound this fair land’s peace!
Now civil wounds are stopp’d, peace lives again:
That she may long live here, God say amen!

The word England was translated to Hebrew as Eretz. And suddenly the words written by Shakespeare more than 400 years ago seemed so true and so actual. Almost like a prayer. Some of the actors and many people in the audience had tears in their eyes.


I first saw and listened to Madeleine Peyroux’s music in the mid-90s. The performance was filmed at one of the major jazz festivals, maybe the one in Montreal, but I am no longer sure. She was in her mid 20s, young, beautiful and with a powerful voice. I immediately placed her high on my appreciation scale, as one of the potential divas of the coming decades.


(video source Nando Moraes)


Somehow my prediction did not fully come true. Soon after she disappeared from the front of the international musical scene, and when she came back she did not seem to fully accomplish her potential. One of the reasons I believe is that Peyroux is too respectful to the traditions she is in love with – classical vocal jazz, French chansonettes and the big ballad artists (Dylan, Leonard Cohen). She is the perfect performer to take a famous song and give it a completely new life that makes you forget the original interpretation. She does not compose too many original songs, or maybe she does not play enough of them, although the ones I heard are all original. They are however too few to create her the musical basis to become one of the divas. Maybe she foes not thrive to become one.


(video source JazzStationBZ)


The Georgia-born Madeleine Peyroux played in the last years in many famous places, she appeared in prestigious series like the Abbey Road Studio Recordings. And she is an excellent live performer, as I could see last night at the Reading 3 club in Tel Aviv, a stop in a tour which will further take her to France, Turkey and the US.



Peyroux impresses as soon as she starts singing. A tall and powerful woman close to her 40s she is not any longer the beautiful young girl I remembered, but as soon as she talks you feel her non-formal and direct personality, and as soon as she sings you cannot but vibrate to her strong and yet so sensitive voice. A first (non-Obama :-) ) joke established immediately the relation with the audience, she explains her music in simple words and in a style that seriously asks you not to take her too seriously.


(video source kinkradio)


Every instrumental sequence is listened with attention and appreciated by her as leader of the band. Gary Versace at piano and organ reached incandescence in a couple of pieces, and guitarist John Harrington also demonstrated that he is a fine musician. I was not enthusiastic about Israeli-born bass player Barak Mori (too slow to my taste) but I enjoyed the local guest performer trumpet player Avishai Cohen.


(video source okeydokeyy)


The program was a combination of classical jazz, soul (‘I Can’t Stop Loving You’), ballads and two or maybe three original songs which just proved what a fine musician Peyroux can be.




Among the last songs of the evening Peyroux sand a song in French (which she does in every show as a salute to her French ancestry) and Leonard Cohen’s Dancing to the End of Love which she re-created in a manner that made an enthusiast even of a non-fan of Cohen as I happen to be.

The Web site of the artist can be found at http://madeleinepeyroux.com/.

Below are a few pictures taken this morning during a short tour in Tel Aviv and Yaffo.



Beit Tamar is the name of the building that stands at the intersection of the streets Chelouche and Shabazi in the Neve Tzedek area of Tel Aviv – restored by somebody who liked a good laugh.



My profession almost never leaves me, so I learned a new meaning of the acronym WWW ….



… as well as a new place where open source is being largely used.



Good news! The rock of Andromeda is in our hands!



Yes, there is a lighthouse in Yaffo.



There is also a church at the end of the tunnel …



… and there is a new and beautiful fountain also (or at least I do not remember having seen it before).


Twenty years ago Liliana and me visited Paris for the first time in our lives. It was a memorable trip from many respects, and one of the major highlights of that first encounter with the magic city was the exhibition Munch et la France at Musee d’Orsay, one of the most comprehensive exhibitions of Munch’s art ever, focused on the personal relation and artistic synchronicity between Munch and the major artistic movements of his time which were mostly coming from or inspired by Paris.


(video source The Munch Museum)


Without the need to compare with that exclusive show, the currently open ‘Encounters in Edvard Munch’s Space’ exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art contains a remarkable set of prints which echo many of the major paintings and themes created by Munch during his life. The show is also enriched with works by three Israeli artists (Orit Hofshi, Michal Heiman, Shai Zurim) in dialog with Munch, as well as a few films made by Munch in the late 20s in Germany, while he was experimenting with a camera.


source http://fillingspaces.wordpress.com/2011/09/07/edvard-munchs-vampire/


Vampire from 1895 focuses on the relation between the two characters hinted by shapes and the striking color of red on the (mostly) black and (some) white surface of the rest of the print.


source http://www.moma.org/collection/object.php?object_id=75905


Jealousy dated 1896 is one in a series which combine the psychology and the social commentary which reminds us that Munch and Ibsen belong to the same space and times.


source http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/edvard-munch/the-sick-child-ii-1896


The malady and death of his sister was an event that influenced strongly Munch emotionally and inspired him into creating a long series of work dealing with loss, absence, death – here is The Sick Child from 1896.


source http://twi-ny.com/twiny.04.12.06.html


Anxiety (also from 1896) is poignant with the direct and blank stares, reflecting the deepness of the feelings of angst of the humans.


source http://www.culch.ie/2009/09/21/edvard-munch-prints-exhibition/


There is nothing that needs to be said about this print version of one of the most famous works in the history of art.


source http://theibtaurisblog.com/2012/08/06/the-graphic-works-and-prints-of-edvard-munch/


Dated 1930 Self-Portrait with a Wine Bottle seems like a glaze back to a life of creation and artistic success built on some of the most troubled feelings, events, relations that the human soul can encounter. It is also a good closing for the exhibition and my short review.