May 6, 2014, Montreal, QC … Sharon Azrieli Perez, whose richspinto soprano has been heard to great acclaim across the globe, takes on the role of the iconic biblical figure Esther, Queen of Persia, in a powerful new song cycle for soprano, piano and orchestra by the young Canadian composer Haralabos Stafylakis, with a new libretto by Ellen Frankel. The Esther Diaries will be part of the McGill Chamber Orchestra’s Concert Klez-Kabaret, conducted by Boris Brott, taking place on Tuesday, June 10 at 7:30 pm at Maison Symphonique in Montreal. The concert also features the band Magillah and the world premiere of Henri Oppenheim’s Tur Malka. For further information on the concert programme please see: www.ocm-mco.org.
Azrieli Perez has commissioned the new work, drawn from the Old Testament’s Book of Esther (Magillat Esther) which is read aloud with great fanfare during the Jewish festival of Purim. The story tells the true tale of an orphaned girl who becomesQueen of Persia and uses her power to save her people from genocide. This first-person retelling shifts the narrative to explore the deeper psychology of Esther’s character. Interestingly, unlike most biblical tales, individuals are credited with saving the Jewish people, not God. “It is almost a psychological thriller,” comments Azrieli Perez, “with Esther as its powerful heroine. We hope that everyone hearing the work can experience a moment of personal power within themselves, finding their own Esther.”
Adding an exciting additional layer to the song cycle will be modern dancer Roger Sinha. Throughout the work, Sinha interprets the role of the scribe to whom Esther is dictating her diary.
The score by Haralabos [Harry] Stafylakis, inflected with Eastern tonality and evocative instrumentation, transports the listener to Persia in the times of harems and Kings, using fragments of the modes from the traditional Magillah reading.Among the eight movements is the atmospheric Market Day, which trips along quickly in staccato rhythms, as Estherdelighting in the spices that surround her. In Within the Heart of Persia, the music becomes brooding and majestic as Esther begins to understand her role among the Jewish people. The dramatic, instrumental Hour of Judgment features foreboding, militant pounding of the tambourine and pensive silences, leading ultimately to Deliverance—a miracle, as Esther reflects upon the cost of freedom— bringing both relief and remorse.
SHARON AZRIELI PEREZ has been heard extensively around the world in opera and in concert, from New York to Tokyo, and from Paris to Tel Aviv. Praised for her “exceedingly beautiful voice, full of feeling” (Ha’aretz), Azrieli Perez is a specialist in the operas of Giuseppe Verdi and is considered the next true Verdiana in her embodiment of such roles as Aida and Leonora in Il Trovatore. Possessing a rare instrument, suited to the stylistic demands of Cantorial music as well as operatic repertoire, Sharon is noted for her interpretations of music on Jewish themes. Please see: sharonazrieli.com.
Labels: mcgill chamber orchestra, Sharon Azrieli Perez