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MM -- What about the Wagner issue? There was a performance recently of some Wagner by the Israel Symphony Orchestra, Rishon le Zion orchestra, (the NIO orchestra). Was Wagner well received there?

HM -- It was, but at one concert there was a single heckler with a ratchet who attempted to disrupt it -- but failed. NIO of course would love to perform Wagner and had even hoped to include some in our inaugural season in 1995. But we are sensitive to the whole question here. We held a public debate about it -- to sound out the opinions and mood of the audience. It was one Saturday morning, and the Opera House was filled, and the debate got quite heated. Interestingly most of the objections raised came from second generation survivors rather than survivors themselves! However we realised this is still not yet the right moment.

MM -- One of the interesting aspects of opera in Israel is the possibility of bringing in Arabic or oriental influences. How far does NIO cater to this?

HM : In last year's Israel Festival we presented a performance of a famous Persian folk tale, Laila and Majnun, like Romeo and Juliet, very well known to Arabic audiences. We commissioned music for parts of it from a young Israeli composer Eliyahu Piris. It is something we would still like to develop further. So far however we have not had any operas by Arabic composers.

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Copyright © 12 April 2001 Malcolm Miller, London, UK





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