RIO DE JANEIRO — A new opera based on an 86-year-old Yiddish poem about a Taino indigenous chief who resisted the Spanish invaders will have its premiere in Havana next month. “Hatuey: Memory of Fire,” will first be performed in Havana on March 3, reported the New York Times. Composed by Frank London of the Klezmatics, the…
The story of the Golem has been told in literature, film and theater, including a puppet production created in 1997 by the Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre. Now that show is back as part of La Mama Experimental Theatre Club’s 50th anniversary season, featuring music by The Klezmatics trumpeter Frank London. Unusually for the company, the show is danced as much as it is spoken. The Arty Semite caught up with writer-director Vít Hořejš and composer Frank London to ask about reviving the story of the clay man.
The Jewish Daily Forward presents the third installment in a new series of innovative arts programming. “Jewish Art for the New Millennium” showcases cutting-edge Jewish artists and thinkers who represent their identity in the most original, innovative ways.The Arty Semite: A Night of Music, Poetry, and a Whole Bunch of Jews
Maybe it was only a matter of time before Socalled, the frizzy-haired, klezmer hip-hop hipster, tried to sidestep his ever-expanding identity as a “Jewish artist.” The arbiters of Jewish cultural identity go to great lengths to rope in the eclectic and the original, and a klezmer hip-hopper is a no-brainer. But no one wants to be pigeonholed.
A Monument to Hatuey in Baracoa, Cuba. Photo by Michal Zalewski.
Is there a grouch in the world who can maintain a proper scowl while listening to French swing? There is something about the sound of this music (is it the sweet, kaleidoscopic chord changes, or the bouncy, peripatetic bass lines?) that seems to rob even the devout pessimist of any meaningful sense of gloom. Wistfulness is possible, yes: One sighs with vague nostalgia for some half-forgotten past, but it’s difficult to concentrate on the horrors of the present or the hopelessness of the future with all those guitars and ukuleles thrumming in one’s ears.
“The Klezmatics are the Jewish equivalent of arena rock,” ethnomusicologist Bob Cohen deadpans early in Erik Greenberg Anjou’s documentary “The Klezmatics: On Holy Ground.” “They’re not heavy metal; they’re heavy Yiddish.”
For all of its charitable mishloach manot-giving and passive-aggressive gragger-shaking, Purim is hardly the tamest Jewish holiday. At its best (worst?) the celebration follows a sort of Bakhtinian carnivalesque disorder, with masks, public denunciations of the villain Haman and booze — lots of booze.
I never learned to speak Yiddish. As a child in the 1950s and ‘60s, it was the language of my grandparents, the language that my parents only spoke when they didn’t want me or my brothers to understand what they were talking about (and I don’t think they spoke it when my childhood friend Michael Wex was in the house). And yet, there is something about Yiddish theater and song (and, of course, Yiddish theater songs) that makes me feel very connected to my Jewish heritage.
On the Yiddish Song of the Week blog, Forverts associate editor Itzik Gottesman writes about “A Sikele, a Kleyne,” as sung by his mother, Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman: