The Mozart Requiem in a unique staged version. Lighting designer Nadav Barnea and director Shirit Lee Weiss use light and movement to present Mozart’s immortal opus in an unforgettable staged musical experience.
The première performance is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Uriel Arnon
Complimentary tickets to active duty soldiers in uniform – courtesy of Lizika, Ami & Teddy Sagy
Celebrating the Dead
It sounds rather as a contradiction in terms. Why do we have to sing glorious music in the name of dead people? Isn't it worthier to sing for the glory of those who are alive? If we have to praise someone in song why wouldn't we praise God instead of dead people? However, everyone praises God continually, and songs of praise for the living are also common place. But praising the dead, or celebrating life through memory of the dead is something no one can avoid. Listen for example to the Kaddish and its beautiful traditional melody. It is a prayer for the dead, or to be more precise in this case it is a prayer that gives more strength to those who remain alive while a family member has departed from this world. And while the Jews have the Kaddish, the Christians have the Requiem. And as has become with many of the Christian liturgical texts, the Requiem too, has soon enough exited its pure religious connotation and moved from the church and from religion, into the secular world of the concert hall. Compared to other cultures, there is nothing really strange with the Requiem. In many societies it is customary to mourn the dead in music and dance. In so called primitive, tribal societies there are numerous ceremonies that are associated with the death of heroes, leaders and ordinary human beings alike. And if you attend a funeral at any Israeli cemetery, of someone from a Sephardi origin, more often than not you will hear wailing that has its own musical language. In the classical music world, the Requiem, which is a mass for the dead, has usually reflected the style of the individual composer who wrote it. The Requiem takes its name from the first words of this mass for the dead, “Grant them eternal rest O Lord.” The Latin Requiem Mass has always been a part of the Liturgy but was standardized after the Council of Trent (1545-63) which created the order of the liturgical parts of the mass. Polyphonic settings of the Requiem began at the 15th century with a lost Requiem attributed to Dufay. Yet the first extant setting of the Requiem belongs to a composer scarcely remembered by the name of Ockeghem. Since then numerous composers have written their own version of the Requiem. Some of these works have no doubt become masterpieces in the classical music repertoire. Verdi's Requiem is more an opera than a liturgical celebration of the dead and no wonder. With contrast to many composers who have written in various musical styles through their lifetime, Verdi is above all an opera composer. And when he uses a huge choir and the four traditional solo voices, soprano, mezzo soprano, tenor and bass, it is not surprising that what he actually produces is an opera of a grand style. The tenor aria, Ingemisco, is one of the finest he has ever written for the tenor voice, and many tenors have performed it regularly in recitals, concert programs or discs in between regular operatic highlights. And the final section for the soprano, is one of the most dramatic scenes Verdi has ever written. The real epitome in Requiem writing belongs no doubt to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Just listen to the way he describes death, or to the way he describes the Day of Judgment. No one can resist granting peace to the dead after hearing Mozart's plea. Verdi's Dies Irae is bombastic and dramatic, Mozart's is pure refinement as is his entire opus. The story of how Mozart came to write this Requiem is quite familiar and is in more than one way the center of the play and the film Amadeus. And whether or not the exact details in the film are correct, what seems to be absolute truth is the fact that this Requiem was commissioned by an unknown person who had it in his mind to present the Requiem as his own musical creation. And there is no doubt that because Mozart himself has written the Requiem literally on his deathbed, he really captures the essence of the departure from life in this piece. While Mozart imprints his own personal style on the Requiem, Faure and Brahms present the general style of their respective homelands in their rendition of the Requiem. Faure's Requiem is very French in nature and style alike. It features only two soloists, an almost unlikely coupling of a soprano and a baritone, and a very chamber orchestra, at least in nature if not necessarily in scope. There is an aura of mystery and sereneness around this specific Requiem, a captivating calmness that foreshadows no doubt French impressionism. Brahms on the other hand has written a "German Requiem" in which he conscientiously departs from the Latin mass by including German texts within the piece. And the result, again with the identical coupling of soprano and baritone, is a piece more Germanic and romantic in nature, and a mass as much for the living as for the dead, an opus that praises the magnanimity of life and the way the living deal with death. Like in almost any other Requiem, here too the chorus is of an essential importance. Benjamin Britten's War Requiem is THE Requiem for the 20th century. No longer are we associated with masses and prayers for those who departed this world in natural causes. Britten, using poetry by Wilfred Owen, and featuring a soprano, a tenor and a baritone, a huge choir as well as two - one symphonic and one chamber - orchestras on stage, laments a society in which many people die at war, a society in which war has become a much too often daily occurrence. And his Requiem is not just a bereavement for those who die in war, even more so it is an accusation against a society which allows such horrors to happen. Listen to the music and you will be at once smitten by its power, by the composer's unique style and above all by the yearn for peace in a world that has long forgotten the actual meaning of the word. Britten was a known pacifist. He hated war and for several years fled Great Britain to the USA to escape the horrors of World War II. And it is no strange then that his Requiem is a twist on the so-called regular mass for the dead. Britten has no interest in following traditional ground. He creates his own tradition, a tradition dictated by the world he lives in. And anybody who has ever listened to his War Requiem on stage knows that it is not only a profound musical experience, it is also a very moving personal and emotional one. Like the changing world we live in, the Requiem has changed considerably through the years. But what has remained intact is the power of the sensation and the glory of the music which accompanies it whether it is the immortal Requiems of Mozart or Verdi, or other samples of the genre like those by Cherubini, Liszt or Berlioz. And as long as music lovers cherish the power of the human voice to express emotions, these Requiems will always be part and parcel concerts and special music events all over the world.
Back Stage Secrets at the Opera Many Opportunities to Widen your Opera Experience
Do you want to know more about the opera you are about to attend? Do you want to find out some back stage secrets? Do you want to meet the artists after the performance? The Israeli Opera enables you to widen your opera experience with a variety of pre performance and post-performance events.
Pre Performance Lecture One hour before each opera performance there is a 30-minute introductory lecture in the auditorium (in Hebrew). Opera staffers present the opera and the production and enable the audience to get some extra information a short time before attending the performances. Admission is free for ticket holders.
Opera Talkback The curtain has just descended on the final scene of the opera. The hour is late. Nut the experience was riveting. This is the time to meet several of the performers. Come to listen and to speak. Ask questions. Meet the artists. A once in a lifetime opportunity to meet the artists who have just excited you on the stage. Opera Talkbacks takes place on the second level of the Opera House foyer and last around 30 minutes. Admission free. Opera Talkback takes place on several evenings in each production. Details can be found at the Israeli opera’s website.