An Opera enterprise goes on a journey

Until April 2020 the BUBER-DORÁTI répétiteurs and Martin Fischer-Dieskau will have compiled a complete recording of Antal Doráti’s work The Chosen featuring international solo singers from Israel and Germany with piano accompaniment. This tone document will serve as a sound reference, conveying first musical impressions of the work to the production team.

The opera houses of the Czech Republic’s capital Prague are legendary. Imbued with philosopher Martin Buber’s active co-creating of the city’s cultural discourse during the 1910s the BUBER DORÁTI FESTIVAL believes, that the author’s later only stage work Elijah will surely find its eligible performance venue on one of Prague’s historically relevant stages.

During the Jewish anniversary year of 2021 https://www.1700jahre.de/ the much-anticipated opening of Jerusalem’s Museum of Tolerance will be celebrated. With its innovative architecture it offers a phenomenal forum of presentation to The Chosen/Der Künder. It has been established as a place of dialogue on a politically controversial building ground. In the light of Buber’s genuine postulate for a Jewish integration with all of Israel’s neighbours it appears as a downright ideal performance venue for our operatic topic.

No other protagonist of the international operatic scene could appear more appropriate to face the challenge of making alive Buber’s and Doráti’s monumental opus than Achim Freyer. A man of immense talent as a visual artist as well as a stage director – meanwhile above all as a leader with an overarching worldly wisdom – seems predestined to give us an understanding of the biblical subject matter with all its philosophic-political providence.

The year 2020 will compile all necessary stage concepts and placings of all twelve singing parts. It will also mark the onset of rehearsals with orchestra, chorus and soloists and the coordination of dates for our international conference delegates. It will be decided furthermore how to incorporate a symphonic concert program to the BUBER DORÁTI FESTIVAL in the most meaningful manner. One idea would be to include Sofia Gubaidulina’s new (2018) composition Dialogue: I and Thou after Martin Buber for Violin and orchestra.  

2021: The intensive phase of rehearsals begins in Berlin. Achim Freyer’s concepts will be developed by his team of assistants. They will work with all the local forces as well as with our international singers from Israel and Germany. Then the master himself will give the finishing touches, realizing his very specific ideas of the scenic realization at each oft the three very different performance venues. The conductor Martin Fischer-Dieskau acquaints the Galilee Orchestra with all intricacies of Antal Doráti’s score in commonly called orchestra-alone-rehearsals not too few in number. The orchestra is composed of Arab and Jewish Israeli musicians in the best thinkable Buber tradition. They will introduce their manyfold musical experiences with artists like Saleem Ashkar, Sir András Schiff or Lynn Harrell into their mastering oft he Doráti score.

It is now that the merging phase of all the elements of an opera production begins. These rehearsals are called ›BOs‹ in the German stage jargon. They are being concluded with two dress rehearsals, both in costume and make-up.

After premiere nights in Jerusalem, the whole ensemble starts on a journey to Prague and afterwards to Berlin. Here the BUBER DORÁTI production will meet audiences at a performance venue especially selected for the event.

Our partner in Israel will be the team of TADMORE ENTERTAINMENT ISRAEL with its CEO Emilio Schenker and its chief production manager Ella Flexer (responsible also for the 2019 E[urovision] S[ong] C[ontest] in Tel Aviv). Both work in close collaboration with the ›Israeli Opera‹ to conjure Freyer’s production and the designs onto the amphitheatrical stage of the Museum of Tolerance. The GALILEE ORCHESTRA will be seated according to the acoustic modalities of an innovative stage situation. That way Doráti’s and Buber’s opera Der Künder will see two more performances (plus one show for young audiences) before its Czech and German premieres in  Prague and Berlin. These performances will happen in mid-September 2021. TAL AVIATION GROUP TEL AVIV looks after a smooth voyage.

On one of the days of rest between performances the world’s leading researchers in the field of Judaic studies and musical theatre will gather in Berlin in order to discuss all relevant correlations between opera and politics under the auspices of Prof. Dr. Paul Mendes-Flohr, Prof. Dr. Bernd Witte, Prof. Dr. Jens Malte Fischer and Prof. Dr. Jürgen Maehder. A solid foundation will be safeguarded by the new complete edition of all of Buber’s works at RANDOM HOUSE/BERTELSMANN.

Der Künder (The Chosen)

ACT I

Scene I       Night in desert

The »Voice« (God) commands Elijah to go to the city to the house of the king to speak to him.

Scene II       Square in the city

In front of the Baal temple a crowd is shouting for rain. Elijah requires entrance to the King’s Palace.

Scene III

Elijah’s cousin Eleazar and Elijah jointly enter the house of Achab. Eleazar alone demands that the Temple be destroyed and Ysebel, the whore, be dismissed. Elijah for his part declares that only »HE« can bring rain by commanding it and fortelling it to Elijah.

Scene IV

Elijah begs God to relieve the people. Tamit provides him with food and drink. Tamit’s son relates to Elijah that his family had little to eat. It was dry in Sidon, Tyros and Samaria. The father died.

The »Voice« alerts Elijah that his service to  the Lord had begun, but at the sight of the starvation Elijah regrets not being able to bring help immediately.

All of a sudden oil and flowers become apparent. Elijah now knows that the believers and the faithful will be rewarded.

Night – bandits carry off the child and steal food. In his dreams the kid is confronted with images of the father, the

king and the robbers and dies. Albeit Elijah appears, laments the wrong and calls the child back to life.

ACT II

Scene I

Ysebel and Achab in a love scene. Ysebel demands her wage. She wants land and a vineyard owned by Nabot.

Scene II

Nabot declares his vineyard not for sale. It is ancestral land, it is sacred. Ysebel urges Ahab to put to death Nabot. Achab obeys. Ysebel triumphs over Achab: The king has complied with her wishes. She – the wench of Tyros – has made the king a happy man.

Scene III

Elijah enters anew into a dialogue with the »Voice«. He hears that his task is not accomplished as yet.

Scene IV

Elijah turns back to Achab whom he now considers a murderer. It would be his duty  to assemble his people to Carmel Hill. Furthermore Elijah scorns Ysebel for having persuaded Achab to trust Baal to bring rain. Achab counterattacks: „Whether Baal or Yehova – I don’t care. I shall make it rain now myself!“

Scene V

On mount Carmel the people sacrifices for Baal as well as for Yehova. Elijah admonishes to no longer limp on two feet, to no longer pray with two tongues: One has to reach a decision in life!

An orgiastic dance for Baal begins. Elijah requests twelve tribal kinsmen to build an altar for him to pray to God. A youth’s outcry announces rain clouds. Achab rejoices with his people over the longed for rain, but Ysebel turns away devastated.

ACT III

Scene I

Peasants are ploughing their fertile fields and indulge in news about Achab bewailing his sins. Elisha, a young herdsman, deplores man’s greed: „We are no better than kings!“ The »Voice« states that Elisha should be taken into Elijah’s service.

Scene II

Elisha learns that he will have to accomplish a mission for King Achab. Elijah awaits another assignment for himself.

Scene III

Achab goes to war with Aram, king of Ramoth, encouraged by his seers. Here Elisha enters and warns the king he could be killed in the battle field. This causes Achab to shove Elisha into jail.

Scene IV

Ysrael and Syria are in battle. Achab gets wounded, but Elijah pledges rescue. Achab remembers David’s song from his childhood: „The Lord is my shepherd“ and dies. Elijah summons the  people to go home, plough and harvest, while he himself remains with the dead body.

Elijah and Elisha meet again. Elijah confesses to rank among the damned and miserable, but the »Voice« invites him to mount a chariot of fire in which he mingles with the stars while the crowd intones a final „The Lord is my shepherd“.