Music by Meira Warshauer, Libretto by Susan Levi Wallach and Meira Warshauer. Beth Greenberg, Dramaturg.
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Elijah, the ancient prophet, has a magical violin that can release the imprisoned melodies of the heart. As adapted from the classic Jewish fairy tale,* this family opera follows young people as they overcome fears and discover the healing power of song.
Princess Shulamit (Shula), a teen in search of her identity, is hiding from her brother Prince Raphael (Rafi) when she finds an enchanted mirror. Believing her reflection will reveal her true self, Shula falls prey to a mirror demon that captures her soul, leaving her frozen in stone. A horrified Rafi, determined to rescue his sister’s soul, ventures into the demon-filled forest. There he encounters a mushroom gatherer who directs him to Malka, an old healer who lives deeper in the forest. Rafi finds Malka with her young niece Zohara, a healer-in-training. Auntie Malka instructs Zohara to go with Rafi and find Elijah’s violin, a magical instrument which can release the imprisoned melodies of Shula’s heart and restore her soul. But there’s a catch: Zohara must not only play the violin, but do so with true intent and a pure heart of her own. When Zohara’s fears and self doubts arise, Auntie Malka teaches her to turn within and focus on her breath in order to connect with her inner strength. After an anxious night alone in the dark forest, the two find Elijah, who entrusts Zohara with his violin. With help from Rafi and the audience (toning), Zohara overcomes her fears so that the violin’s healing music can emerge. Back at the palace, the violin, in Zohara’s hands, plays the song of Shula’s heart, freeing her from the demon’s hold and restoring her soul.
*Source: Oral tradition, Egypt. Retold by Howard Schwartz in Elijah’s Violin and other Jewish Fairy Tales, Harper and Rowe, 1983.
Duration: ca. 50 minutes.
Instrumentation: Violin, Flute, Cello, Piano
Cast: Princess Shulamit, mezzo soprano (or soprano); Prince Raphael, tenor; Auntie Malka, mezzo soprano (may double Shulamit); Zohara, soprano; Mycologist (mushroom gatherer)/Elijah, bass; Children of the Forest and various other roles, S/A Children’s Chorus.
Performance in San Francisco September 15, 2019.
Listen to Bracha, musical source for the violin’s theme in the opera.