Esther: A Lost Jewish Opera, Newly Discovered | Congregation Beth Am

Esther: A Lost Jewish Opera

Performed by the Albany Consort; Free and Open to the Public
Jonathan Salzedo tunes his harsichord

The opera Esther, commissioned by the Portuguese Jewish community of Amsterdam and composed in 1774 by Cristiano Lidarti to Hebrew text supplied by Rabbi Jacob Raphael Saraval of Venice, was lost for over two hundred years. A Hebrew libretto is unusual. Esther was discovered in 1998, and in 2000 the Hebrew University of Jerusalem staged the first known performance since 1774.   

Harpsichordist Jonathan Salzedo, a co-founder of the Albany Consort states, “Handel’s version is in English, which can never project the same energy as the Hebrew text.”

The Albany Consort, consisting of seventeen musicians playing Baroque period instruments, six vocal soloists and a choir, will bring this unique work to life as good Queen Esther bravely speaks up for her people and she and her cousin Mordechai ultimately defeat the wicked Haman. Learn more about Esther the long-lost Purim opera.

Preceding the performance, a lecture will be given by Rabbi Reuben Zellman who was instrumental in bringing Lidarti’s Esther to the United States for the first time. Both Hebrew and English texts will be projected on a screen during the performance. (Don't want to wait until the performance to read the libretto? Download the Hebrew and English texts in advance.)

This free event is graciously sponsored by Beth Am congregant Michael Morganstern.

The Albany Consort began in London in 1974, and moved to the Bay Area with founders Jonathan Salzedo and his wife Marion Rubinstein in 1981. Since then it has been a fixture of Bay Area music-making, performing the whole gamut of 17th and 18th century music. Jonathan’s attitude is that truth is found through experiment and not through fixed solutions. The group changes to meet the needs of the music, and consists of the Bay Area’s finest musicians who bring a deep feeling for old music and an interest in taking risks that invariably pay off.

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