Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Jewish Music: An Inside Look at Yossele Rosenblatt

Alex Halberstadt has a fantastic article on the life of the renowned cantor: Yossele Rosenblatt.He paints a very colorful picture of the cantor as well as his troubles:

by the mid 1920s, an investment in a failed Yiddish newspaper had bankrupted Rosenblatt. The crisis pushed him onto the vaudeville stage, a place that many among the orthodox considered undignified and possibly blasphemous. The cantor took it in stride. Billed as “The Man With the $50,000 Beard,” he toured the nation by train, entertaining at movie theaters between showings of Westerns and comedies. At a typical stop, at the Pantages Theater in San Francisco, he sang “Mother Machree” between screenings of Broken Hearts in Hollywood, with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Louise Dresser. His opening act was “child memory marvel Dodo Reid.” Rosenblatt felt at home in front of the mostly gentile audiences.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I thought you might be interested to learn that for the past three decades I’ve been pursuing a project which has been playing a modest role in the cause of keeping Yiddish alive. I have been translating the operas of Gilbert & Sullivan into Yiddish. In doing these translations I make a concentrated effort to adhere faithfully to Gilbert’s dazzling rhymes while striving to preserve unblemished Yiddish. I am never satisfied until I am absolutely certain that I've achieved a perfect match of verbal to musical cadence so that the lyric conforms to the accentuation and rhythm of each musical phrase.

These works have been successful in bringing a renewed sense of the charm of Yiddish to U.S., Canadian and English audiences via fully staged productions.

There recently ended a return 2-week engagement of the Folksbiene Yiddish Theatre's off-Broadway production in April of my Yiddish version of The Pirates of Penzance (with English & Russian supertitles). The April performances as well as the original run last October-November played to sold-out audiences. I attribute this to the 20 rave reviews in English, Yiddish, Hebrew & Russian newspapers & websites, including one by Lawrence Van Gelder in The NY Times. The web reviews brought young people of various ethnic groups to the performances. .

My Yiddish version of “The Pirates of Penzance” a.k.a., DI YAM GAZLONIM has been nominated by the New York drama critics for a 2007 Drama Desk Award in the “Outstanding Revival of a Musical” category.

Also the National Yiddish Theatre – Folksbiene has been nominated in the “Special Award Winners” category.

The awards ceremony was held on Sunday, May 20 at the F.H. LaGuardia Concert Hall. The event will be telecast by PBS on Sunday, May 27 at 12:30pm and by NYC TV (Channel 25) on Thursday, May 24 at 8pm and Saturday, May 26 at 10pm. The ceremony will be webcast live by TheaterMania.com.

To read the full story, please see: http://www.theatermania.com/content/news.cfm/story/10609.

I attended a Sunday, May 20th 5:30 to 8:00 PM reception at the Russian Tea Room and the Annual Drama Desk Awards later that night at 9:00 PM at the FH LaGuardia Concert Hall at Lincoln Center.

Zalmen Mlotek, the executive and artistic director of Folksbiene wishes to take the Yiddish Pirates production on tour. Zalmen can be reached at zmlotek@Folksbiene.org. And I am always available at savoyid@optonline.net to continue this discussion with you.

Zayt mir dervayl gezunt!

Al Grand