The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra is older than the State of Israel. It was the brainchild of famous Polish-born, Vienna-based violinist Bronislaw Huberman. A perspicacious virtuoso, Huberman persuaded about 75 musicians from major European orchestras to make a bee-line to Palestine. It wasn’t out of fear of impending danger; it was just a nice cultural idea that he had formulated in 1931, when he was more Zen than Zionist. But by the time of Hitler’s rise, it had become an urgent mission.
An even better Mozart-motivated movie than “Amadeus” has yet to be made. The subject: Wolfgang’s magnificent collaborator, Lorenzo Da Ponte, the libertine librettist of “The Marriage of Figaro,” “Don Giovanni” and “Così fan tutte” — arguably Mozart’s greatest works, and watersheds in the history of music and theater, not to mention humanity. The episodic cinematic epic might be called “The Menace From Venice.”