Music by Meira Warshauer, Libretto by Susan Levi Wallach and Meira Warshauer. Beth Greenberg, Dramaturg.
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 playing hide and seek with her devoted younger brother, Prince Raphael (Rafi). In a remote section of their castle, Shula finds a dark room with an enchanted mirror. Believing the mirror can show her who she is (In this Mirror I am Glowing), Shula peers into it only to become prey to a mirror demon that captures her soul and leaves her frozen in stone. A horrified Rafi sets out to save his sister. His quest takes him deep into the forest where, directed by a man gathering mushrooms, he finds Auntie Malka with her niece Zohara. Auntie Malka, a healer, instructs Zohara and Rafi to find Elijah’s violin which can free Shula, but only if played with pure heart and true intent. To help Zohara overcome her fears, Auntie Malka teaches her to turn within, focus on her breath, and find her inner strength (Close Your Eyes). After a scary night alone in the forest (Auntie, I Miss You), they find Elijah, who assures Zohara that she can play his violin (Hold it Close). Back at the palace, Rafi and Zohara put their newfound strengths and confidence to work. Per Elijah’s instructions, Rafi burns 3 strands from the violin bow. Zohara then plays the violin, freeing Shula from her stone prison and restoring her soul (My Own Heart’s Song). Shula celebrates finding her true identity (A Mirror’s Just a Piece of Glass) and all rejoice (choral reprise of Close Your Eyes.)
*Source: Oral tradition, Egypt. Retold by Howard Schwartz in Elijah’s Violin and other Jewish Fairy Tales, Harper and Rowe, 1983.
Duration: 45-50 min. with narration. Full length: anticipated 75 min.
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 or Children’s Chorus, Narrator (for shorter version).
“Auntie, I Miss You” from UNC Wilmington Opera Outreach Project performance March 18, 2018, Temple of Israel, Wilmington, NC. (Catriona MacLean as Zohara, Tanya Wheeler as Auntie Malka, UNC-WOOP Chorus) Score sample below audio.
“Close Your Eyes,” Samantha Leibowitz as Auntie Malka, Marie Putko as Zohara; Luke Fang, piano, recorded for FBN Productions, March, 2016.
“Bracha,” source for violin theme in the opera, recorded by Opus Two–William Terwilliger, violin, and Andrew Cooperstock, piano.