MALCOLM MILLER in conversation with
Hanna Munitz, General Director of New Israeli Opera
Despite the daily reportage of troubles and unrest that adorn the international
media, life in contemporary Israel proceeds as usual, an invigorating and
heady mix of cultures and ideas, of culture and hi-tech, energy and enthusiasm.
Amongst the highlights of Israeli society and more plentiful even than much-prized
water, is the musical excellence that flowers in its borders and beyond,
with several first-rank orchestras, and a host of serious and popular music
groups flowing into the thriving concert scene. Alongside the Israel Philharmonic
Orchestra, and the Jerusalem Music Center, perhaps the best known, and long-standing
musical institution is the New Israeli Opera, which last year made its first
and successful international tour to Finland's Savonllina Festival,
and this June-July presents two Verdi operas, including a new Otello,
at the Opera Festival in Caesarea. During a recent visit to Tel-Aviv I was
privileged to attend a performance of the new co-production of Norma,
and to speak with NIO's General Director Hanna Munitz about the company's
policies, programming, and future plans.
But first some background.The NIO rose phoenix-like in 1985 out of the
ashes of the Israel National Opera, a company that used to play to small
audiences in the old opera house on Tel-Aviv beach. Opera in Tel-Aviv began
in 1923 founded by the Russian conductor Golinkin, who had a pioneering
vision of mainstream opera performed in the nascent modern Hebrew language.
Spurred on by the American soprano Edis de Phillipe, the Israel National
Opera was founded at the same time as the State was declared in 1948, with
Thaïs as the inaugural production, and with Placido Domingo
as one of its earliest stars.
Copyright © 5 April 2001
Malcolm Miller, London, UK
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